Chiefs like Kpassagnon's versatility

Aug 17, 2017 - 10:54 PM ST. Joseph, Mo. -- Kansas City Chiefs second-round draft pick Tanoh Kpassagnon found himself lining up at multiple defensive positions in the preseason opener against the San Francisco 49ers, including defensive tackle, end and outside linebacker.

"They're definitely trying to see where I can fit best," Kpassagnon said. "It was fun. I like it."

The 6-foot-7, 280-pound Kpassagnon possesses a blend of athleticism and quickness that belies his size. Former general manager John Dorsey said following his selection that he projected Kpassagnon as a five-technique defensive end lining up outside the tackle. He also said the rookie from Villanova could add additional weight to his frame.

Yet, the Chiefs now appear comfortable keeping Kpassagnon at his current weight and utilizing him at multiple positions. Defensive line coach Britt Reid said the rookie displays a rare versatility.

"Especially going from nose to end all the way to outside 'backer, very rare," Reid said.

Kpassagnon spent practice this week working on his coverage skills. He found himself racing step-for-step with veteran running back C.J. Spiller. He picked up a pass defended by breaking up the catch.

"I knew I could do it," Kpassagnon said. "I actually got to get better at, being able to turn around and then get a pick off that. That's not enough."

Lining up as a linebacker in coverage is new to Kpassagnon, but it's a role he relishes an opportunity to try.

"Playing an outside linebacker position is difficult fun and difficult too," Kpassagnon said. "But I like being everywhere. You kind of get to know the whole defense."

--Chiefs quarterbacks came out firing down field in the preseason opener against the San Francisco 49ers but don't be surprised if the team focuses on the run Saturday night on the road against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Head coach Andy Reid said the team's emphasis on the passing game short-changed his running backs. The team rushed for just 31 yards on 14 carries. Reid wants to bolster that effort through a better performance from his offensive line.

"When it really comes down to it you still have to get a body on body, secure that level one so there's not penetration and give the back at least a chance," Reid said. "If you're not blocking a secondary defender then just give them a chance to make that guy miss."

Incumbent starter Spencer Ware remains first in line in the backfield, but rookie Kareem Hunt now receives the plurality of second-team snaps ahead of Charcandrick West and Spiller.

One of the more intriguing candidates in the backfield is Spiller. Running backs coach Eric Bieniemy says Spiller still has remarkable speed and can contribute in all aspects of the offense.

"We know he can do a great job of running it," Bieniemy said. "But also he has done a great job of making plays down field in the pass game and he is doing a great job picking up blitzes."

Spiller believes he still has the legs to play at a high level, but he also believes he's a more patient runner than in his younger days.

"There's still a lot of stuff that I have to get better at to become a better football player, to heighten my football IQ so that's why you go through training camp to try to get better at those things before the season gets started," Spiller said.

--Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith called it "crazy" that former teammate Colin Kaepernick remains on the sidelines without a NFL quarterback job.

"It is crazy to think that he is not playing," Smith said. "That is a crazy thing because like I said as good as he was playing, young, strong, I felt like he had a long career ahead of him and it is crazy at this point he is out of a job."

Kaepernick opted out of his contract with San Francisco in March, officially making him a free agent. He emerged as a polarizing figure last season after choosing not to stand during the national anthem as part of a social justice protest.

Smith described the controversy involving Kaepernick as something he never saw coming.

"My relationship with Kaep is we always got along really well," Smith said. "He was always extremely respectful with me so he and I got along really well."

Kaepernick and Smith found themselves involved in quarterback controversy during San Francisco's 2012 Super Bowl season. The 49ers went 6-2-1 with Smith as starter before a concussion knocked him from the lineup for two games. Kaepernick filled in ably and finished the season as the team's starter.

The former 49ers quarterback Smith said he hasn't spoken with Kaepernick for a long time.

"Obviously a lot has changed since then, but it is hard to even comment on it," Smith said. "Like I said, I don't know. There is a lot going on in that landscape right now."

Smith said he would have no problem welcoming Kaepernick as a teammate once again.

"He was always someone who was really, really respectful," Smith said. "He was a really good teammate. He cared, so yeah, no question."

--The Chiefs closed training camp in St. Joseph, Mo., but the future location of the team's training camp remains up in the air for now.

"It is something that we'll sit down and talk about as an organization," team chairman and CEO Clark Hunt said when asked about returning in 2018, "but personally I hope we'll be able to come back."

The club and Missouri Western State University, the host of the team's training camp the past eight seasons, hold mutual options for the 2018 and 2019 seasons. University officials indicate they are ready to execute their option.

The state of Missouri helped recruit the Chiefs to move their training camp to St. Joe after 19 seasons in River Falls, Wis. The agreement provided the Chiefs with $25 million in tax incentives contingent upon the team remaining in Missouri for 10 years. The organization needs two more years to complete the arrangement without facing partial repayment of the incentives.

Team president Mark Donovan said the club continues exploring its options. He believes it difficult the Chiefs would move their camp to another off-site location in Missouri.

"We like it here," Donovan said. "We like the relationship, we like the efficiency, we like the familiarity and consistency. So, I think it would be tough for somebody to come in and wow us and take it away from here."

The team could, however, move to the University of Kansas Hospital Training Complex, the team's headquarters and practice facility located near Arrowhead Stadium.

Relocating to the training complex means addressing obstacles such as housing for the team's players and coaches, logistical support such as meals and security and accommodating fans.

Hunt said he plans to consult with head coach Andy Reid and general manger Brett Veach before making a final decision.

"I know Andy feels very positive about having training camp here, Brett feels very positive about having training camp here," Hunt said. "I think it's a good experience for our fans who are able to drive up from Kansas City."

Reid said he supports whatever decision Hunt makes, but spoke positively about the experience in St. Joseph.

The people here have been phenomenal," Reid said. "They have done a nice job for us and we appreciate that."

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