Chiefs QB Alex Smith and WR Jeremy Maclin Couldn't Be Off to Better Start

Looking at two of the key components of the offense in 2015

For more than a month, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith and one of his newest receivers, veteran Jeremy Maclin, ran around the practice field throwing and catching passes at will.

Now for 10 of the OTA practices and the three-day mandatory minicamp, there were defenders, but no pads. The rest of the time they were going against air, trying to perfect the timing and precision needed to execute coach Andy Reid's offense at the highest level.

But in all actuality, it wasn't really football.

That doesn't begin until training camp on August 1 on the campus of Missouri Western State University. That's when the guys can throw on the pads and really get after it.

But even so, the two were still able to get meaningful work done throughout these offseason workouts and enough to compare it to past experiences. For Maclin, whether it was running through plays in 11-on-11 drills, talking in meeting rooms after practice or simply communicating what they're seeing from the defense between plays, he had high praise for how well he and Smith have clicked since he arrived in Kansas City.

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"I don't think I've ever been off to a better start with a particular quarterback in my life," Maclin stated.

After being the Eagles first-round pick back in 2009, Maclin has amassed 343 receptions for 4,771 yards and 36 touchdowns in his five seasons on the field. He missed all of 2013 with a knee injury.

Four of the five seasons Maclin has been on the field have been with coach Andy Reid, offensive coordinator Doug Pederson, receivers coach David Culley and many others who now find themselves in Kansas City.

"He's only a couple years removed from our system," Pederson said. "We've changed some things since he's been in the offense, but he's such a smart, savvy, veteran guy that he's picked up on what we're doing really fast.

"He and Alex have sort of developed that continuity right away."

But even before Maclin signed with the Chiefs back in March, Smith had been aware of what Maclin could do in this offense.

"We watched a lot of Eagles film a few years ago when coach Reid and company first came over from Philadelphia," Smith said. "Obviously, (Maclin) was all over that film. Certainly you could see what a playmaker he was, how explosive he was.

"But it's the competitiveness that really jumps out at you when you're around him."

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Maclin put that competiveness on display throughout offseason workouts.

If there was a ball in the air, he was going for it.

Maclin often found himself on the ground after the play from either diving for the ball or getting tangled with a defender after a duel in the air.

Maybe most importantly, Maclin was showing his quarterback how hard he'd fight for the ball when it comes his direction.

Regardless of whether he is wearing shorts and going against teammates or what is to come this fall when the Chiefs step between the lines for real, Maclin showed that he is a competitor this offseason.

"He's a guy that can do everything," Smith said of Maclin. "At this level, that's so rare. A guy that has the speed and quickness to be a threat downfield, but also has the size to move inside. He wants it coming his direction.

"As a quarterback, you want that. You want those guys on the outside to kind of have that confidence about them—that no matter what, they're going to win."

Photos from the career of Chiefs WR Jeremy Maclin

Smith could see on tape three years ago the physical ability Maclin possessed, but it's his mental approach to the game that has really surprised Smith since they started working together.

"It's easy for receivers to just worry about their job and to worry about their route," Smith explained. "You can see pretty quickly how aware (Maclin) is of the entire defense. He's not just seeing a corner; he's seeing the safeties and all of the linebackers.

"He knows what kind of coverages they're in and how they're defending him. He's smart. And with that, he can anticipate when the ball is coming his way."

Coming off a Pro Bowl season in which he produced 85 receptions for 1,318 yards and 10 touchdowns, Maclin was at his best when his team needed him the most.

He averaged 20.2 yards per reception when the score was tied and 15.6 when the Eagles were behind. He even averaged 20 yards per reception and had four of his 10 touchdowns in the fourth quarter when the game was within one score.

Simply put, the Chiefs have a guy that is used to making the big catches when his team needs him the most.

"He has a guy he can trust," Maclin said of Smith. "He can put the ball in different spots and I'll go out there and make plays.

"I'm looking forward to doing some special things with him."

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