Notebook: Chiefs rookie James O’Shaugnessy making most of opportunity

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ST. JOSEPH, Mo. – Chiefs rookie tight end James O’Shaughnessy is currently second on the depth chart behind starter Travis Kelce.

Quite a jump for a player from Illinois State, but O’Shaughnessy had plenty of mentorship along the way since arriving in May as a fifth-round pick.

Aug. 3, 2015; St. Joseph, MO: Chiefs tight end James O'Shaughnessy catches a pass during training camp drills. (Emily DeShazer/The Topeka Capital-Journal)

Aug. 3, 2015; St. Joseph, MO: Chiefs tight end James O’Shaughnessy catches a pass during training camp drills. (Emily DeShazer/The Topeka Capital-Journal)

“The whole tight end group helped me out,” O’Shaughnessy said Saturday, “especially Kelce and (tight ends) Coach (Tom) Melvin, our OC (Doug Pederson) and Coach (Andy) Reid.

“It’s kind of been a collective help from everybody. I’ve been very fortunate with that aspect that they all have been willing to help me through my growing pains and help me work through whatever I need to get done.”

The 6-4, 245-pound O’Shaughnessy has split time with the starting unit in two-tight end sets and backup offenses through training camp.

And he has made the most of his opportunities and carried over momentum from organized team activities and mandatory minicamp to catch the coaching staff’s eyes.

“He’s working hard on his fundamentals,” Reid said. “He’s not the biggest guy, so he has to be technique-sound. So for the four (padded) practices, he’s worked on that. Every day he improves, which is kind of a neat thing to see, he’s from a smaller school. For him to handle what we’re asking him to handle, he’s doing a heck of a job.”

Reid said O’Shaughnessy has made improvements as a receiver and a blocker, with the latter showing the most gains.

“We know he’s a pretty good catcher,” Reid said. “Blocking is where he needed the most improvement and he’s been doing well with that.”

The Chiefs will continue to give O’Shaughnessy repetitions with tight ends Demetrius Harris (foot) on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list and Ryan Taylor dealing with a quad injury.

But while Reid likes what he sees so far in the rookie, O’Shaughnessy knows there is plenty of room to continue growing before the regular season.

“We’re only a week into training camp, a little bit over,” he said. “Every new thing that we put in is new for me, so I just have to keep accepting the coaching, and accepting the learning curve and try and make as many plays as possible.”

ALLEN FOCUSED ON NOW

Right guard Jeff Allen has the edge in the battle for the starting right guard spot, and he arguably has extra incentive to nail it down.

Allen, who currently sits atop the depth chart, enters the final year of his contract, but he doesn’t want to dwell on that situation.

“I’m not really worried about my contract,” Allen said.

Instead, he and the Chiefs have other immediate goals, and it’s the best goal for an NFL player.

“Me personally and the other four guys,” Allen said, “we all have to play our best to give us the best shot to reach our goal, and that goal – I’m sure the same goal for everybody in the NFL – is to win the Super Bowl. But we have a strong belief here we have a shot. We’re going to go out there and attack it.”

ATTENDANCE IN FORCE

The rain that pushed the start of practice back at hour didn’t affect attendance at Family Fun Day.

More than 6,000 people were present for Saturday’s practice, according to a Chiefs spokesman.

“It was good to get out here with the fans,” coach Andy Reid said, “we appreciate all their support. I was told that it was the second-largest (non-stadium) crowd they’ve had here, so that’s a positive thing. The players feed off of that, especially during a tough practice like this one.”

The largest crowd to attend a Chiefs training camp practice at Missouri Western State University came in 2010 when more than 10,000 attended a night practice at Spratt Stadium.

OBSERVATIONS

• Second-year cornerback Phillip Gaines showed off impressive athletic leaping skills by climbing the ladder for an interception off of quarterback Alex Smith during 7-on-7 drills.

• Defensive end Allen Bailey got the best of left guard Ben Grubbs during one-on-one drills. Bailey did a bull rush, got underneath Grubbs and drove him back before planting Grubbs flat on his back. Defensive end Mike Catapano also looks very impressive the drills, consistently getting into the pocket using bull rushes or speed to get past blockers.

• The Chiefs had a first on the offensive line through training camp by giving rookie Mitch Morse a go at center over Eric Kush and Zach Fulton moving in to right guard. Jeff Allen shifted to right tackle from right guard in place of Donald Stephenson, who ran with the second team at left tackle. Kush was the center with the second unit.

• Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin made a leaping grab at the back of the end zone on a pass from quarterback Alex Smith during 11-on-11 red zone drills. Maclin showed the ball with one hand after getting both feet down before his momentum took out of bounds.

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Herbie Teope is the lead beat writer and reporter for ChiefsDigest.com. Use the contact page to reach him or find him on Twitter: @HerbieTeope.

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