KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Chiefs rookie Chris Conley made his first official entry in the box score in Week 3 with his first career catch, a 16-yard effort against the Green Bay Packers.
“The first one is always the hardest one, they say,” Conley said. “Now that that’s out of the way, we can move on and continue to focus on getting better every day.”
And the Chiefs apparently include Conley in future plans.
“Yeah, yeah,” offensive coordinator Doug Pederson said. “He’s the type of kid where the more opportunities he gets to play — a snap here, a snap there, maybe a series or two — he’s such a smart kid, he’s like a sponge.”
Conley’s football intelligence shouldn’t come as a surprise. The Chiefs drafted the 2014 SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year, after all.
But his playing time certainly increased in Week 3.
With Albert Wilson dealing with a shoulder injury, Conley played on a season-high 35 offensive snaps after totaling six snaps on offense in the previous two games.
The 6-3, 205-pound Conley remains a contributor on special teams, totaling 17 against the Packers. He has played on 50 special teams snaps entering Week 4’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Conley is in position, however, to make a strong case for even more playing time on offense if Wilson’s injury lingers beyond Week 4.
And the rookie wide receiver appears ready for more responsibility.
“He’s just absorbing all the information we’re giving him and he’s done a really good job when he’s in there,” Pederson said. “He’s a guy that we continue to give him a couple reps here and there.”
The Chiefs already faced Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers, and now have the opportunity to play against Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton, one of the NFL’s hottest signal callers.
Not the easiest three-game stretch for any defense, especially when considering the Bengals’ passing attack ranks sixth in the league (285 yards per game).
Dalton, in particular, holds a 121 passer rating, which is second in the league behind Rodgers (135.4).
“I think Andy Dalton is probably playing the best football he’s played,” defensive coordinator Bob Sutton said. “He’s very efficient, not turning the ball over. He’s done a great job in these first three games here for them. It’s a good job, they’re surrounded by some really good players.”
Like Manning and Rodgers, Dalton has a strong supporting cast.
The Chiefs not only have to contend with Dalton, but need to figure a way to slow down running backs Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard, wide receivers A.J. Green, Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones, and tight end Tyler Eifert.
“Cincy has really good balance from the running game, to tight ends, to wide receivers, to backs as far as being involved in the passing game,” Sutton said. “They demand a lot of things from you and it’s hard to say, ‘Hey, if we can just take this away, we’re in good shape.’ We have to take away a lot of things in this game to do a good job on defense.”
ONE PLAYER TOO MANY EXPLAINED
The Chiefs defense drew two infractions for 12 men on the field in Week 3, as the Packers quick-snapped the football to catch the Chiefs off guard.
Conventional wisdom suggests tempo played a role for the penalties, but Sutton took a moment to explain what happened.
“One of them was more on us, they switched personnel,” Sutton said. “We thought there should have been a little more time for us to switch personnel. That didn’t work out that way, but that’s the game.
“We probably still could have made it off, but really we felt we should have gotten a little more time on that. But yeah, they do a good job, it’s something that we practice hard on and we didn’t do a good enough job on it.”