KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Chiefs addressed the loss of starting right guard Geoff Schwartz, who signed a free-agent deal with the New York Giants, by signing offensive lineman Jeff Linkenbach.
Jul 29, 2013; Anderson, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts offensive guard Donald Thomas (66) and offensive tackle Jeff Linkenbach (72) go through blocking drills during the Indianapolis Colts training camp at Anderson University. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
While Schwartz’s previous spot is open, Linkenbach, formerly with the Indianapolis Colts, understands nothing will be handed to him ahead of training camp.
“You never know in this business how things are going to work out,” Linkenbach said during Thursday’s media conference call. “I’m not here to replace anybody, necessarily. I’m just here to compete, looking for an opportunity I get, whatever opportunity that is to make the team.”
Still, what could boost Linkenbach ahead of the inevitable battle is a four-year career where he’s shown an ability to play various positions along the offensive line.
“I play so much everywhere,” he said. “It’s where I get the most reps during the week and I feel more comfortable during that week. I’ve played all four – guard and tackle positions – I feel comfortable pretty much everywhere.”
The 6-foot-6, 325-pound appeared in 60 games with 33 starts in four seasons with the Colts. He displayed that comfort level in 2011 when he started all 16 regular season games, splitting time at right and left guard.
And when it comes to the Chiefs, versatility – much like what they had in Schwartz and currently have in offensive lineman Donald Stephenson – is coveted.
“You have to have those guys,” Chiefs offensive coordinator Doug Pederson said of interchangeable linemen in early January. “You have to have those swing tackles and guards that can play center.”
For his part, Linkenbach echoed Pederson’s previous sentiments when asked about the interest he drew from around the league prior to settling on Kansas City.
“I think there’s always interest for a guy who has such versatility as I do,” Linkenbach said. “So there’s plenty of interest, just happy to get it locked in and over with relatively early.”
In the meantime, the Chiefs could still add offensive linemen through free agency or May’s NFL Draft.
But for now, Linkenbach is set to compete against Rokevious Watkins and Rishaw Johnson, among others currently on the roster.
Linkenbach, who turns 27 on June 9, has age on Watkins and Johnson, both of whom turned 25 in February.
He also has valuable NFL playing experience working in his favor, as Watkins and Johnson each have one career start.
Nevertheless, Linkenbach isn’t above helping teammates during the upcoming competition.
“I’ve been around a while,” Linkenbach said. “I still feel I’m young enough to play for a long time, but I’m old enough to be able to help the young guys.
“The Chiefs’ offensive line is one of the youngest in the league, so however I can help whoever, whether that’s starting or being a sixth or seventh guy, I’m just looking forward for the opportunity to get in there with the guys, get to know me and me get to know them.”