KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Six seasons in the Canadian Football League resulted in 442 receptions for 6,531 yards, including four straight 1,000-yard seasons, and 43 touchdowns.
A two-time CFL All-Star and CFL Most Outstanding Rookie in 2008, wide receiver Weston Dressler excelled in Canada after going undrafted out of college by the NFL.
And the Chiefs took notice, eventually signing him on Feb. 4 to a three-year contract.
“I think he’s a very unique player, he’ll have a little bit of return thing in here,” Chiefs general manager John Dorsey said last month at the NFL Scouting Combine. “The way Andy (Reid) uses certain players and finds roles for him, it’s interesting. But again, that’s a player you bring into camp. Let’s see how he competes and let’s see how he fits.”
Dorsey’s last comment is the kicker.
Dressler, 28, knows regardless what he accomplished while with the Saskatchewan Roughriders that nothing comes guaranteed with the Chiefs.
He’ll have to prove himself all over again.
“I’m coming in to compete for a spot on the roster,” Dressler said during Monday’s conference call with the Chiefs media. “I think from my experience in the CFL, I’ve played receiver and a little bit of a returner as well, so to be able to compete in those spots and try to come into camp and earn my way throughout camp and earn my way onto the roster.”
Still, Dressler will face obstacles teammates vying for his roster spot are already accustomed to, specifically the rules.
Listed at 5-foot-7, 179 pounds, Dressler won’t have a running start to the line of scrimmage. However, he can draw from his experience with American football rules while at the University of North Dakota to help ease the transition.
Dressler said he’s been working out in Canada since signing with the Chiefs in preparation to moving to Kansas City, but admits the overall transition to NFL rules won’t happen overnight.
“Being up there for the last six years, I started to get comfortable with some of their rules and changes to the game that they have,” Dressler said. “I think it’s just going to take a little bit of time to get to that comfortable level of being comfortable with all of it.”
Meanwhile, former Chiefs wide receiver Danan Hughes, now an analyst with the Big Ten Network and Time Warner Cable SportsChannel, points out another area Dressler must adapt to.
Hughes said in phone interview the former CFL star is about to deal with something he likely didn’t experience in Canada.
“Although he’s played against professionals, the NFL is a different animal,” Hughes said. “The adjustment that I made out of college is the same that he’ll have to make is the speed. He hasn’t seen the type of speed – on-field speed and detail – that he will see in the NFL.”
Hughes has a unique perspective on what Dressler hopes to accomplish.
He compares Dressler’s path to former teammates Joe Horn and Tamarick Vanover, both of whom successfully made the jump from the CFL to the NFL.
Hughes said it’s difficult to see Dressler coming in and having an immediate impact. But Hughes adds he could see Dressler competing at fourth or fifth wide receiver, both spots mostly associated with special teams, much like his former teammates had to do.
“Tamarick came in specifically as a kick returner and then made his way into the starting lineup to be an asset on offense,” Hughes said. “But he came in with a role and responsibilities – same as Joe – as a No. 4 or No. 5 receiver, and allowed the maturation process to take over. He was in the system for a couple of years, and then you got to see his real ability shine.”
Dressler’s opportunity to contribute could very well start off on special teams when considering the Chiefs lost punt returner Dexter McCluster and kick returner Quintin Demps to free agency.
If that’s the route he has to take, Dressler can also return punts, evidenced by 907 yards and a touchdown on 92 career punt returns in the CFL.
And potentially being a returner with the Chiefs means working with special teams coordinator Dave Toub, a scenario that has Dressler excited.
“Just to see what he’s done in this league throughout the years is pretty incredible, the numbers he’s been able to put up with his special teams unit,” Dressler said. “The guy obviously knows what he’s doing and he’s produced some pretty special returners. I look forward to working with him and being able to learn from him and take in as much knowledge as I can.”
For now, Dressler’s moment to show he belongs in the NFL has arrived and he’s in a good situation.
The Chiefs have needs at wide receiver and returner, and the team could still add receivers through free agency or May’s NFL Draft.
Nevertheless, Dressler’s experiences should translate to a hard look in the coming months.
And whatever happens on the road to training camp, it’s clear Dressler is happy his journey from the CFL landed him in Kansas City.
“I think just talking with some of the guys in the Chiefs organization, they believe I have the skills and the ability to play in the NFL,” Dressler said. “And I have believed that about myself for years now. Just to have this opportunity, I’m very thankful for that, thankful for them giving me the opportunity to come in and try and earn a spot on the team.”
Notes: Dressler said he looks forward to catching up with inside linebacker Joe Mays, who played at rival school North Dakota State … Dressler said he believes the Chiefs honored his request to wear No. 13, his way of paying tribute to Saskatchewan Roughriders fans … “I don’t want to say for sure – not yet – until I see that on a jersey, but I believe that I will be,” Dressler said of his request.