Minicamp Notebook: Martin Rucker Lands on IR

Posted Jun 13, 2012

Rucker will undergo season-ending knee surgery, plus other notes from minicamp including Wednesday’s third-down emphasis and Matt Cassel’s acclimation to new center Rodney Hudson

After receiving a second opinion on his injured right knee, tight end Martin Rucker has opted to undergo season-ending surgery. Chiefs head coach Romeo Crennel announced the news following Wednesday’s minicamp practice.

Rucker was originally hurt in a goal line drill on June 1st and is scheduled to undergo surgery later this week. The Chiefs officially placed the three-year NFL veteran on injured reserve late Wednesday afternoon.

“He’s going to take some time to recover from (surgery), so we’re going to put him on IR and then go from there,” Crennel said after practice.

The tight end position group as a whole was depleted during Wednesday’s minicamp session with Tony Moeaki continuing rehab on his left knee and Jake O’Connell sidelined with a thumb injury suffered in the opening practice of minicamp.

Just three of the team’s six tight ends were healthy enough to practice, but Crennel isn’t ready to declare the position in flux.

“I think it just depends if Tony is able to make it back or not,” Crennel said. “If Tony comes back I think (the group) will be pretty good. The guys we had out there have been working good, but we may have to add another for training camp.”

Moeaki is scheduled to meet with doctors on Monday to determine whether or not he’ll be cleared for camp.

“I’ve been told that he’s making good progress and I expect that he will be in training camp and ready to go,” Crennel said.

Rucker’s unfortunate injury leaves the Chiefs with an open roster space on the club’s 90-man squad. One of the candidates to fill that void could be exonerated linebacker Brian Banks, who worked out for the team Tuesday afternoon.

“It went pretty good considering he hasn’t been playing football,” Crennel said of Banks’ private workout at the Chiefs’ Practice Facility. “But you can tell that he has been working out and the football drills, he still remembers those things. I think the more workouts he has with teams, the more it will come back to him. But it was a pretty decent workout.”

Asked if the Chiefs might use their open roster space to sign Banks, Crennel deferred to the general manager.

“That’s his job,” Crennel said. “I just coach the guys that he gives me.”

Heavy Third-Down Emphasis

The Chiefs spent the majority of 11-vs-11 work on third-down snaps of varying distances. All four quarterbacks received work, but Matt Cassel was the only one to find much success.

Cassel and the first-team offense converted four-of-six third-down opportunities to open the period with receivers Steve Breaston and Dexter McCluster each hauling in two first down receptions apiece.

Two of the four conversions came in third-and-10 situations, but the day belonged to the defense following the hot offensive start.

Running with the twos, Ricky Stanzi threw three incompletions to convert just one-of-four third-down snaps. Rookie receiver Brandon Kinnie recorded the lone first-down reception on a comeback route.

When Brady Quinn’s turn came, the first-team defense was back on the field and created heavy pressure going against reserve offensive linemen. Quinn’s squad also converted just one of their four tries – a handoff to rookie Cyrus Gray - and Quinn was sacked on two of his three pass attempts.

Dontari Poe recorded one of the sacks out of a sub-package defensive set in what may have been the play of the day. He was on Quinn as soon as the quarterback finished his drop. The other sack could have gone to a multitude of players including Justin Houston, Allen Bailey or Tyson Jackson.

Alex Tanney, working with offensive reserves, received two snaps against the first-team defense and showed good awareness in scrambling away from Tamba Hali’s blindside pursuit for a first down. His only pass attempt sailed far wide of its intended target and landed out of bounds.

Kansas City’s offense converted 36% (81/225) of its third-down snaps last season to rank 19th in the NFL. The defense held opponents to a 34.3% (72/210) conversion rate and finished with the eighth-best mark in the league.

Cassel Adjusting Without Wiegmann

Matt Cassel hasn’t taken a snap from anyone besides Casey Wiegmann for more than two seasons.

In typical Wiegamann fashion, the ironman center has quietly headed into the Iowa cornfields this offseason without a formal retirement gala. Of course, no one can count out a guy that played 11,162 consecutive snaps from 2001-2012.

Things have obviously been different on the offensive line this offseason without Wiegmann. The 17-year veteran mentored Rodney Hudson as best he could last season, but no player other than Wiegmann has snapped the football in Kansas City since the start of the 2010 season.

That’s a total of 2,084 consecutive snaps.

“Casey Wiegmann is a guy that had an unbelievable career, was a staple for us these last few years, a guy with tremendous experience,” Cassel said. “Now, Rodney is coming up and he’s done a great job so far, and he’s also learned a lot from Casey. I think it was a great year for him to be able to learn from such a professional like Casey.”

After opening their first OTA session with several fumbled exchanges, Cassel and Hudson have appeared to find their groove. The mishandled snaps have disappeared over the past month and Cassel says he’s comfortable working with Wiegmann’s projected replacement.

“It’s always different when you have a different rear end in front of you, so to speak,” Cassel said.

“He’s done a great job adjusting so far and he’s been handling a lot of calls up front, and he’s done a great job recognizing front and blitzes and doing all that, so he’s caught up to speed right now and I expect good things from him.”

Hudson spent most of his rookie season working as a guard, but has served as Kansas City’s starting center throughout all of OTAs and minicamp.

Bowe and Berry Miss Again

Franchised wide receiver Dwayne Bowe continues to stay away from minicamp with an unresolved contract situation and Eric Berry was once again excused for personal/family reasons.

Tight end Jake O’Connell (thumb) was the only addition to the injured list on Thursday. Joining O’Connell on the sideline was offensive lineman Rob Bruggeman (finger), running back Jamaal Charles (knee), safety Kendrick Lewis (shoulder/pectoral), tight end Tony Moeaki (knee) and receiver Devon Wylie (hamstring). 

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