KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Chiefs rookie wide receiver Chris Conley fielded a kickoff 9 yards deep in the end zone late in the third quarter with his team holding a 14-13 lead over the Seattle Seahawks.
Most returners in that situation would arguably take a knee, but Conley didn’t hesitate to take it out before being stopped at the 14-yard line for a 23-yard return.
Perhaps to the casual eye it was a case of rookie jitters or first preseason action for Conley, who didn’t play in the preseason opener.
The rookie wide receiver, however, didn’t lose situational awareness in those situations; it was by design.
“It’s a mentality they want us returners to have, especially in the preseason,” Conley said. “When you get your hands on the ball, make something happen with it. That’s the mentality that I want to carry over, be courageous. I think we got great guys on the front line and I felt like I had space, and they encourage that.”
Conley had another opportunity to display aggressiveness on a punt return in the fourth quarter when he fielded the ball 2 yards deep in his end zone.
The coverage quickly bore down, but Conley sprinted to his left with a defender in pursuit and took it out of the end zone before being stopped at the 3-yard line.
Conley indicated the thought never crossed his mind to down the ball, largely because of special teams coordinator Dave Toub’s approach to the return game.
And that sits perfectly fine for Conley.
“I love playing the game of football and when I’m coached to be courageous and make it happen, that’s all the more encouragement for me to make those plays,” Conley said. “I trust my teammates and in any situation I believe that they can make those blocks, I’m just going to run as hard as I can.”
Conley, who didn’t record a catch on offense, finished the game with two kickoff returns for 46 yards and the 5-yard punt return.
NELSON OWNS MISTAKE
Seahawks rookie wide receiver Tyler Lockett lined up in the slot on the left side of the formation in the third quarter on the Chiefs’ 29-yard line.
Chiefs rookie Steven Nelson took his position close the line of scrimmage to defend Lockett as a nickel cornerback. Lockett quickly beat Nelson at the snap, and headed up the field to haul in a 25-yard pass from quarterback R.J. Archer to the Chiefs’ 4-yard line.
It’s a play Nelson won’t soon forget as he grows into the nickel cornerback role, a position he never played until landing with Chiefs.
“He’s a good player, but I put that one on myself,” Nelson said. “Not to take away from him, but I knew I messed up. When you can coach yourself, then that’s when it’s correctable.”
Nelson intends to look at the film and is confident he can fix technique errors that allowed a big play.
“It was little technique things playing the slot,” he said. “Instead of me supposed to move my feet, I kind of got stuck with my feet. It’s a small mistake, but in this league playing defensive back, not moving your feet can cause a catch.”
WILDCATS RETURN TO AREA
The Midwest welcomed back a pair of Seahawks rookies.
Quarterback Jake Waters and wide receiver Tyler Lockett played collegiately at Kansas State, and the return carried special meaning for both.
“I think, for me, it was a great feeling,” Lockett said. “For me it will probably be the closest I’ll ever be to next to home. I played at Kansas State, which is two hours away and living in Tulsa, Oklahoma, this is probably the closest I’m ever going to get. I had a lot of friends and a lot of family come and watch me. It was a great feeling to come out here and play against a team my dad got drafted by. I had a great time out there.”
Waters, who did not play Friday night, recently signed with Seattle and he is enjoying the reunion with his former favorite wide receiver target.
“It’s been awesome having a guy like Tyler and the relationship we built in college and to come here, we roomed together last night in a hotel again just kind of like old times,” Waters said. “It’s great to even get a chance with any organization in the NFL, but to do it and have one of your best friends there to kind of experience it with is awesome.”
Lockett finished the game with three catches for 42 yards, adding two punt returns for 20 yards and a kickoff return for 19 yards.