Breaston readies for variety of roles in KC's offense

Posted May 7, 2012

Steve Breaston saw limited snaps out of the slot in his first season with the Chiefs

When Jonathan Baldwin returned from a preseason thumb injury nearly three months into the Chiefs 2011 regular season, most assumed veteran Steve Breaston would shift inside as the team’s slot receiver.

It was a shift that never fully materialized.

While Breaston saw some snaps as the team’s slot receiver, most of his plays came as an outside target opposite Dwayne Bowe.

In fact, Baldwin would play more inside snaps than Breaston last year.

“It’s funny, a lot of people are always talking about me being a slot receiver, but my whole career, I’ve been outside,” Breaston clarified. “Last year was my first year that I even attempted at being the slot.

“Even when I was at Arizona, Q (Anquan Boldin) was mainly in the slot. I played opposite of Larry (Fitzgerald) outside.”

One of the biggest misconceptions among fans and media in Kansas City has been labeling Breaston as the Chiefs’ slot receiver.

He’s smaller and faster than both Bowe and Baldwin. In addition, Breaston played third-fiddle to Fitzgerald and Boldin throughout most of his tenure with the Cardinals.

Assuming Breaston lines up inside is a common mistake, especially when he’s put into motion.

However, Breaston isn’t opposed to moving inside if the Chiefs new playbook under offensive coordinator Brian Daboll calls for it. The limited snaps Breaston took out of the slot late last season helped him prepare for whatever role Daboll has in mind.

“I played outside the whole path, but I think last year when I went into the slot, I learned a lot being there,” Breaston said. “I can play every position. That’s no problem for me. I think I’m more comfortable with it than in years before.”

Kansas City just spent a fourth-round draft pick on Fresno State speedster Devon Wylie in an effort to strengthen the team’s inside receiving presence moving forward. It’s been a struggle for the Chiefs to find consistent production out of the slot for several seasons.

Bobby Engram, Lance Long and Bobby Wade were all given opportunities to win the job in recent years.

Last season, the Chiefs turned to veteran Keary Colbert despite a two-year absence from the game. If it wasn’t Colbert, Jerheme Urban received looks.

Neither player remains part of the Chiefs roster.

“The more I play there, the more I understand,” Breaston said of playing the slot. “The pace that I had at receiver is different than being outside. I don’t want to say it’s easier, but there is a lot of room inside there. You’re off the ball a lot when you’re in the slot, but as the season went on, I understood what went on. There are backers inside there. There are certain things inside there that you don’t have when you’re outside.

“Usually when you’re outside, you’re working man-to-man, and it’s probably you against that defensive back. There are a lot of things that happen inside the slot that you have to pay attention to. Last year being down inside, it just helped out being an all-around receiver.”

In a perfect world, the Chiefs will be able to use Breaston’s versatility in week-to-week game planning against opponent matchups.

Should Bowe’s contract situation be resolved in an timely manner, Baldwin take the ever important second-year leap and Wylie show the ability to contribute as a rookie, Breaston’s position flexibility could make him Kansas City’s wildcard - especially if TE Tony Moeaki can return from knee surgery at full strength.

It’s the type of roster situation also that gives the Chiefs options at the back-end of the receiving corps, particularly with Terrance Copper and Jeremy Horne, who have been two of the team’s most active special teams contributors.

“In certain offenses, right now when you look across the board, the No. 2 and No. 3 guys are just as important,” Breaston said. “When people go out, you’re expected to fill that position, whether it’s me, whether it’s JB (Jonathan Baldwin) or a number of guys behind us. You have to come in. You have to be ready to start.

“We have to carry that load and I think we have the guys capable of doing that. I think we have a couple of draft picks that can come in and contribute, too.

Of course, there are alternative scenarios that could see Breaston line up as the team’s No. 1 receiving option as well.

Breaston is currently doing so with Bowe staying away from the team’s offseason program.

“Right now it’s early, and with OTAs, especially with JB, he’s going to develop,” Breaston said. “He’s going to have this offseason to develop. JB is raw, but JB is athletic and he can make plays. That’s why he’s here.

“When the offseason goes on and he gets the reps that he may not have had before because Dwayne isn’t here, he’s going to develop and he’s going to be a lot better of a receiver.”

In the interim, Breaston readies for a multitude of roles.

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