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Jason Avant Says Chiefs Were Always No. 1 Choice

Posted Nov 26, 2014

The newest Chiefs receiver is excited to be in Kansas City

The Kansas City Chiefs recently signed nine-year NFL veteran receiver Jason Avant after he was released from the Carolina Panthers just one week ago.

Avant spent the first seven years of his career with Chiefs coach Andy Reid in Philadelphia (2006-12) after being a fourth-round draft pick by the Eagles out of Michigan in 2006.

During those seven seasons with the Eagles, Avant played in 100 games for Reid and had 259 catches for 3,199 yards and 10 touchdowns.

When Avant had a chance to rejoin his former coach in Kansas City, he jumped at the opportunity.

“The Chiefs were always my number one choice,” Avant said on Tuesday. “Everything doesn't always work out the way that you want it to work out. I was glad to be able to come here on the second go-round. This is where I always wanted to be.

“I always wanted to play for coach Reid and [wide receivers] coach (David) Culley so it's a dream come true for me."

Besides just Reid and Culley, Avant will see some other familiar faces around the practice field on offense.

Offensive coordinator Doug Pederson, running backs coach Eric Bieniemy, tight ends coach Tom Melvin, quarterbacks coach Matt Nagy and assistant offensive line coach Eugene Chung also spent time with Avant in Philadelphia.

With all of that familiarity, Avant said he knows about 65 to 70 percent of the playbook right now, although he said with different personnel in Kansas City and Reid’s ability to adapt to the players on the roster, there are some things he’ll need to pick up.

"There are some similarities but it's a lot of new things,” Avant said. “I just want to be ready and prove to them that I can grasp the playbook in such a short notice [and] have them have confidence in me being out there."

Avant explained why he wanted to play for Reid again.

"I think some of the biggest things you appreciate are him knowing how to use personnel,” Avant explained. “He's had big receivers like (Dwayne) Bowe and he's had small receivers like DeSean (Jackson). He's been able to use those guys in the right way. He's great at game planning and he's just a great person. I respect him and his family so much.”

While learning the playbook is one part of the difficult equation for a new player to join the team in Week 13 and hope to make a difference, the continuity between a receiver and his quarterback is something that normally takes time, which the Chiefs don’t have a lot of with just five regular season games remaining

That continuity and timing is something Avant and quarterback Alex Smith will try and develop in the limited amount they have.

"Alex (Smith) is a guy that I've admired from afar,” Avant said. “Just talking with him, he's a very heady guy that's able to take in a lot of information and make the correct reads and that's what you want as a receiver, a guy that's going to put your team in a position to win and so I'm looking forward to working with him.

“[Alex] thinks about leverage, he thinks about what the defense is trying to do and he's always trying to game plan against those things. I really respect that and I'm glad to be here."

In 11 games for the Panthers this season, Avant had 21 catches for 201 yards and one touchdown.

Avant doesn’t shy away from the chip on his shoulder and he’s clear on what drives him to succeed.

“I don't just play this game for me,” Avant explained. “I play it for those people that watch me on the south side of Chicago. I play this game for the coach who coached me in high school and my coach in college. I'm a very competitive person and I like to prove those people right that acquired me."

The Chiefs acquired Avant after dealing with some injuries this season at the receiver position. Veteran Donnie Avery has missed the last seven games after sports hernia surgery, and AJ Jenkins was just put on injured reserve with a shoulder injury.

The Chiefs have relied on veterans Dwayne Bowe and Junior Hemingway, along with young players Frankie Hammond, Albert Wilson and De’Anthony Thomas at receiver this season.

It’s a group that has yet to catch a touchdown pass through 11 games, and Avant knows coming into this situation as a veteran receiver with a lot of young players still developing around him that there’s a leadership opportunity for him.

"The first thing you have to do is lead by example every day in practice because your example gives you a right to speak,” Avant said. “You show that you work hard and then will a person listen to you. I think it's often too many times where people talk a bunch and their example doesn't practice what they preach so that's what I'm trying to do."

During his seven years with Reid in Philadelphia, Avant spent the majority of his time at receiver in the slot position.

In fact, Avant never had a season with less than 79.8 percentof his snaps coming out of the slot when he was with Reid.

But this season in Carolina, Avant played just 25.7 percent of his snaps in the slot.

While Avant doesn’t know if that’s where he’ll play with the Chiefs, he said it’s more natural for him because of his experience there, but he’s willing to play wherever Reid wants him.

“When you play there for eight years, you definitely get comfortable with it,” Avant said of the slot. “But I'm comfortable being on the football field. It's something like I said, I enjoy doing. I'm pretty sure coach Reid is going to move me around as best as he sees fit for this team.

“Every team has different needs. Every team has different schemes and thought processes so whatever it is that he sees fit, I'll believe in what he's preaching.”

What this Chiefs team really needs is a win on Sunday night against the division-leading Denver Broncos, and it will be interesting to see whether or not Avant plays any kind of a role in helping accomplish that goal.

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