ST. JOSEPH, Mo. – Some players fade as training camp progresses, while others consistently command attention.
Chiefs wide receiver Frankie Hammond belongs in the latter group, and it’s not just media or fans in attendance taking notice.
“When we watch film as quarterbacks,” rookie signal caller Aaron Murray said Wednesday, “we look at the receivers, and he is definitely one of the guys every day that stands out to us.”
It’s hard to miss Hammond through six days of practice, especially after Sunday’s eye-popping catch-and-run when he turned a short pass reception from quarterback Chase Daniel into a highlight reel affair.
The second-year receiver, who possesses 4.44 40-yard dash speed, juked a cornerback on the right side of the field, cut back across the grain all the way to the left sideline and left defenders behind en route to the end zone.
“He has been dominating,” Murray said. “I think he is one of the top two or three guys so far this camp with the amount of catches he’s had. So he’s had a fabulous camp. I don’t think he really has dropped any balls and he definitely looks good out there.”
The Chiefs originally signed Hammond in 2013 as an undrafted free agent out of Florida.
The former Gator, who tips the scale at 6-1, 184 pounds, spent the season on the practice squad where his development caught the attention of offensive coordinator Doug Pederson.
“He showed enough last year running the service team,” Pederson said, “the look teams to say, ‘Hey, there’s a guy we can develop and bring in a young, talented receiver that has enough size.”
For his part, Hammond said on July 22 the time spent on the practice squad proved vital to his development.
“I get to focus more on the playbook and it takes off the pressure because you are not actually going to the games and playing in the games on that Sunday,” Hammond said. “So it is a little extra time to just develop and focus in on things because you may see things.”
“You can try different things without worrying about, ‘What if I get that wrong?’ So it lets me try inside releases instead of outside releases and see how that goes because I’ve got room for error and see how that works out, and kind of play with things and see how it works out.”
Pederson enjoys Hammond’s football acumen and the dedication to improve.
“He’s sharp,” Pederson said. “He’s very athletic. One thing we noticed this offseason was he got bigger, he got more physical at the line of scrimmage.”
And it’s paying off to the point where No. 85 isn’t hard to find on the football field.
Just look for the wide receiver consistently making plays.
Starting right tackle Donald Stephenson caused a scare Sunday after he went down with an ankle injury. The third-year pro had to be helped to the medical tent and couldn’t put pressure on his left ankle.
Given how the injury looked, it didn’t appear the Chiefs would have Stephenson back any time soon, much less Wednesday.
But Stephenson said he underwent “double treatment” to return to action.
“I got back faster than I thought I would,” he said, “and I’m proud of it.”
The Chiefs offensive line is in transition this season, and having a healthy Stephenson, who started seven games in 2013 (four at left tackle, three at right tackle), is critical.
“He’s a tough kid,” offensive coordinator Doug Pederson said. “Physically, he’s going to be fine.”