KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A three-year apprenticeship has potentially reached its end if Eric Kush has anything to say about it.
The 6-4, 313-pound Kush, who joined the Chiefs as the first of two sixth-round draft picks in the 2013 NFL Draft, sat behind center Rodney Hudson the previous two seasons.
But the starting job is available with Hudson signing a free-agent deal with the Oakland Raiders in March, and Kush found himself taking first-team repetitions when the Chiefs opened organized team activities (OTAs) Tuesday.
“It’s awesome,” Kush told reporters Wednesday on working with the starting unit. “It’s everything growing up as a football player you hope to achieve. Opportunity is knocking. It’s right there. I’m ready to keep rolling and do this thing.”
Nothing will be handed on a silver platter to Kush, of course.
He will have to earn the job when considering the Chiefs drafted offensive lineman Mitch Morse, who can play center, in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft.
The Chiefs also signed center Garrett Frye as an undrafted free agent, and signed versatile rookies Daniel Munyer and Melvin Meggs, both of whom can play center, after each had successful tryouts during rookie minicamp.
While Kush understands he will be pushed, he enters the upcoming practices with the correct mindset.
“It’s competition,” Kush said. “I’m out here just working with the guys, working the best I can, playing as well as I can and keep this thing rolling and bring the energy to practice every day.”
What could work in Kush’s favor throughout the competition surrounds his experience in the Chiefs’ offensive scheme.
He has repetitions from two years of practice and a Week 17 start at center in 2013. From reading a defense to training his eyes across the line of scrimmage, Kush knows what to expect.
And those areas should apply to what he does on the field in the coming weeks leading to training camp as he gets set to battle for the starting job.
“Year Three feels great,” Kush said. “It felt great before, but Year Three, the third time doing this thing, everything just seems smooth as butter to you. You get everything locked in and just ready to play some football, get out here and get some sun, have some fun.”
Kush’s understanding of the offensive system has impressed his new teammate Ben Grubbs, a two-time Pro Bowl left guard acquired during an offseason trade with the New Orleans Saints.
“Kush is very knowledgeable,” Grubbs told reporters Wednesday. “He has a good foundation of the playbook and he’s been helping me out – him and Fish (Eric Fisher), they’ve been doing a great job. I don’t want to be a burden too much, but there are some things that I just haven’t quite gotten the grasp of and they’ve been doing a really good job bringing me along with them.”
The Chiefs will have a new look on the offensive line in 2015 with Fisher as the lone returning starter at left tackle from the 2014 season and Grubbs projecting as the starting left guard.
Center, right guard and right tackle, however, are prime positions for heavy competition, with Kush, Jeff Allen, Donald Stephenson headlining the charge against the likes of Paul Fanaika, Zach Fulton and Morse, among others.
Despite the pending competition, Kush said the relationship among his teammates has “been great” and members of the offensive line got together during Memorial Day weekend to hang out and bond.
That budding chemistry should go a long way for the offensive line players, especially for Kush, as the team looks to lock down the unit for the regular season.
“We got new guys plugging in and everybody working together,” Kush said. “Our biggest challenge is going through OTAs, fixing and fine tuning everything, so when we get ready to really do this thing, it’s smooth as butter.”
NOTES: Safeties Husain Abdullah and Daniel Sorensen, and defensive end Allen Bailey returned to the practice field Wednesday after missing practice Tuesday for personal reasons.
Herbie Teope is the lead beat writer and reporter for ChiefsDigest.com. Use the contact page to reach him or find him on Twitter: