Notebook: Chiefs rookie WR Chris Conley happy to return to practice

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ST. JOSEPH, Mo. – Chiefs rookie wide receiver Chris Conley spent 10 “super frustrating” total training camp practices watching teammates on the field before returning Monday.

(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Tuesday marked the first time Conley, whose knee strain prevented him from practicing during that span, addressed the media since July 28 when he reported for camp.

And the rookie appeared in good spirits despite the missed time.

“I’m a guy who prides myself on my play,” Conley said. “I like to practice because I like to get better; I like to learn from guys who are vets. Having (Jeremy Maclin) and (Jason Avant) out there is invaluable so I don’t want to miss any of that time, but it was good because I was able to meet with those guys off the field and get with those guys in the film room and stay up to date.”

The 6-3, 205-pound Conley split time with the first- and second-team offenses Monday and Tuesday, and appeared to run without limitations.

He said he felt good on the practice field, adding he was able to “open it up.”

As for his time away from participating on the field, Conley had a lot of help to stay up to speed on the playbook.

“The coaches did a great job of keeping me involved,” he said. “Although I was off to the side, they kept my mind sharp and kept me up to date on the installs and where the offense was at. When I came in here today, I was able to move in seamlessly, so it’s been a good transition.”

Offensive coordinator Doug Pederson also came away encouraged with what he saw out of the rookie.

“He challenges himself every day,” Pederson said. “He studies, he takes notes in the meetings and he comes out here and listens and learns. He is a very intelligent receiver and I just look forward to good things and big things from him later on in preseason.”

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The Chiefs had rookie Mitch Morse at center, Zach Fulton at right guard and Jeff Allen at right tackle with the first-team offense for the fourth straight day.

A shift in direction is arguably clear to the naked eye when considering center Eric Kush and tackle Donald Stephenson now run with the second team.

But like coach Andy Reid, who said Monday the team was looking for combinations, offensive coordinator Doug Pederson isn’t committing to a starting unit.

“I think that we are at that time of camp where obviously, bottom line, when you get to the regular season,” Pederson said Tuesday, “you want to play the best five and there are still plenty of guys in there.

“Seeing how Mitch Morse, we know what Zach Fulton does – he started 16 games for us last year, so now, we want to see Mitch in there and see how he handles going against the starting defensive front and spend a couple days there and see where he is at working with the first unit.”

Pederson also echoed Reid when it came to a potential deadline to establish the starting unit.

“We are still trying to put the pieces together, nothing is set,” Pederson said. “Nobody has necessarily made the team yet. We are still working on finding that five.”

OBSERVATIONS

• Donald Stephenson, who worked at left tackle with the second-team offense, didn’t fare well against outside lineback Frank Zombo in two straight plays during 11-on-11 drills. Zombo, who is filling in for Dee Ford (concussion), drove Stephenson back into the pocket on the first play, forcing quarterback Chase Daniel to throw off balanced. Zombo then got around Stephenson on the next play and would have sacked Daniel if not for the no-contact rule in place with quarterbacks.

• Undrafted rookie wide receiver Donatella Luckett hauled in a perfectly thrown pass from Daniel to beat rookie cornerback Steven Nelson down the field during an 11-on-11 drill.

• The Chiefs used cornerback Sean Smith with the second team, allowing rookie cornerback Marcus Peters and cornerback Phillip Gaines to run with the first-team defense for a third straight day. Jamell Fleming took the right cornerback position with Gaines sliding inside in the nickel package.

• The return to pads Tuesday meant physical one-on-one drills between the outside linebackers, defensive linemen and offensive line. Undrafted rookie Charles Tuaau had one of the best bull rushes of the segment, displaying power by pushing rookie center Mitch Morse back into the imaginary pocket and driving him to the ground. Defensive end Mike Catapano also had an excellent speed rush to easily get past guard Paul Fanaika.

• With wide receiver Jeremy Maclin (neck) and Albert Wilson (illness) not practicing, the Chiefs worked mostly with Frankie Hammond Jr., and Fred Williams in the first-team offense. Hammond, Williams and De’Anthony Thomas lined up together during three-wide receiver sets. Chris Conley also rotated in with the first-team unit.

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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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