Heartland Health Training Camp Preview: Tight Ends

Posted Jul 21, 2012

Three questions surrounding the Chiefs tight end position heading into training camp

1) How prevalent will two-tight end sets be in the Chiefs new offense?

There was no shortage of two-tight end sets included in Chiefs practice scripts this offseason.

Even in the absence of Tony Moeaki, Kansas City practiced plenty of double tight end formations during OTA and minicamp practices. New offensive coordinator Brian Daboll’s first play-call on the job featured two tight ends and the trend continued throughout the offseason program.

“Obviously I like the more tight ends the better,” Moeaki said. “Having multiple tight ends is a good balance. Every team you see is using tight ends, so hopefully me and Kevin Boss can contribute to that.”

Daboll found success with two-tight end formations as the season went on in Miami last year.

After beginning the year primarily as a three-receiver team, the Dolphins gradually progressed to more two-tight end formations. The result was a 24.7-point scoring average over the final nine games of 2011 (the Dolphins posted a 6-3 record). It was a point total that placed Miami as a top-10 offense during the season’s second half.

“What we tried to do (in Miami) and what we’ll try to do here is be multiple in our personnel groupings,” Daboll said. “When you have guys that can do multiple things and play multiple roles – whether that’s receiver and running back or playing tight end and fullback – it gives you a lot more flexibility.

“We’re not going to try and hamstring ourselves with a specific personnel group. We’re going to try to use as many (groupings) as our players can handle.”

The Chiefs rotated first-team personnel next to Kevin Boss throughout the offseason. With Moeaki expected to re-join the position group for training camp it will be interesting to see if Daboll tries create a hybrid tight end/fullback with one of the reserves.

Charles Clay was effective in a hybrid role for the Dolphins last season.

2) What does Daboll want out of his third tight end?

Assuming the Chiefs keep three tight ends on the 53-man roster, Daboll has a diverse group to choose from in filling out the position group after Kevin Boss and Tony Moeaki.

The above-mentioned hybrid role could potentially be served by veteran Jake O’Connell or undrafted rookie Tim Biere. With that said, the Chiefs have traditionally carried a block-first tight end on the roster as well.

Anthony Becht often served as a “sixth lineman” last year when the Chiefs wanted a bigger, pass-eligible player to stay in against the blitz or help pave rushing lanes. Leonard Pope previously served that role before Moeaki’s injury thrust him into a starting role.

Steve Maneri could have an inside track at the No. 3 tight end job if Daboll wants to carry a block-first player in the position group.

A tight end in college, Maneri played offensive tackle during his first two NFL seasons before making the move back to tight end this offseason. Maneri logged one reception last season when he lined up pass-eligible tackle.

Between the position battle at fullback and the reserve ranks at tight end, Daboll has plenty of options when constructing his final offensive roster.

3) Will the Chiefs add another player to the competition?

The Chiefs lost Martin Rucker for the season to a right knee injury during offseason practices. It was a tough break for Rucker, who would have been competing for a roster spot in front of a hometown crowd in St. Joseph.

Rucker gave the Chiefs even more options at the position with his history as a pass-catching tight end. His strengths complimented the position group nicely while Moeaki rehabilitated last season’s left knee injury.

Kansas City has yet to fill Rucker’s roster spot and still has one opening remaining on its 90-man roster. The Chiefs were actively looking for tight ends before ultimately signing Rucker off a tryout in May.

With Rucker out of the mix is this position one GM Scott Pioli still feels the need to address or is Kansas City now content with its roster makeup at tight end?

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