Day One of OTAs Shines Light on Backup QB Competition

The Chiefs took to the field on Tuesday for their first OTA practice

We're 110 days away from the Kansas City Chiefs stepping on the field for their Week 1 game against the San Diego Chargers at Arrowhead Stadium.

The game takes place on September 11, so there's obviously plenty of time between now and then for some of the key positional battles for the Chiefs to work themselves out.

One of those battles is for the No. 2 quarterback job behind starter Alex Smith.

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It's a position that had been held for the past three years by veteran Chase Daniel, who left this offseason and signed with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Daniel's departure opened the door for fourth-year player Tyler Bray and third-year player Aaron Murray to compete and push one another to earn that backup role heading into this season.

While it's only the first day and much can change throughout OTAs and into training camp later this summer, the first reps for the No. 2 job went to Bray, while Murray and the rookie fifth-round pick out of Stanford, Kevin Hogan, took the reps behind Bray and Smith.

"Somebody's got to be the No. 2, so [Bray] is the No. 2 right now," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said after Tuesday's practice. "It's an open competition. We're only out here for so long, so we try to get as many reps with each one of them as we can, but somewhere you have to distinguish one over the other."

Reid went on to say that he was encouraged by what he saw from each of the quarterbacks on Tuesday, including Bray.

"I thought [Bray] did a nice job," Reid added. "I'll go back and look at the tape on it, but he looked like he handled things well. I thought all the quarterbacks kind of handled it very well, even our rookie (Kevin Hogan).

"It was fun to watch."

Smith, who is coming off the best year of his career with more yards passing (3,486) and yards rushing (498) than any other in his 11-year NFL career, likes what he's seen from the two young quarterbacks as they've been competing through the first few weeks of the offseason program.

"They've both grown up a bunch in these few years and both have changed a lot," Smith said. "It has been fun to watch up to this point and here we kind of really get going. This is the start of it. They're both great teammates who put in a lot of time and a lot of work—they sacrifice a lot, you know it means a lot to them.

"I'm anxious to watch it as it goes along."

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A look at the quarterbacks during the Kansas City Chiefs offseason OTAs.

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For Bray, who has had his last two seasons cut short due to injuries, just getting back on the field and getting reps against defenders was the first step in the process.

It had been a while since he last stepped on the field in a meaningful game, which came back in 2012, when he threw for more than 3,600 yards with 34 touchdowns and just 12 interceptions as a junior at Tennessee.

Compared to last year, Bray said his understanding of the offense is much further along here in his fourth season.

"Night and day," Bray said in comparing where he's at right now to a year ago. "Last year—just trying to remember formations, just off the play call and stuff like that, I was still struggling to learn. This offense takes a couple of years to master.

"This year, they call a play and I can spit out the formation pretty well."

Murray, who is entering his third year in this offense after a stellar collegiate career in which he became the SEC's all-time leading passer at Georgia, knows that he's competing with Bray for the No. 2 job while at the same time pushing Smith.

"We're all competitors," Murray added. "You can't be in the NFL if you're not a competitor. This is a competitive league whether it's with veterans or with rookies coming in. Everyone's pushing each other and that's what makes teams better.

"I want to keep showing these coaches that I've taken the past two years to learn from Alex, Chase and the coaching staff and am able to go out there and demonstrate it with my knowledge of the plays, protections and defenses.

"Every day is really an audition to demonstrate that I've taken full advantage of these redshirt years."

Hogan, who has only had about a month to learn this system, is also in the mix but has a steep learning curve to master an offense that is verbose as many out there.

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A look into day one of phase three of the Chiefs offseason program at the University of Kansas Hospital Training Complex

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Hogan has the pedigree of being the all-time winningest quarterback in Stanford history, which also includes a 16-6 career mark against teams in the AP Top 25. That gives you reason to be optimistic about his opportunity and ability to compete moving forward as well.

"I'll be curious to see how they do through camp and then once we get into the preseason games," Reid explained. "We'll see how they roll there. Whatever happens, happens.

"None of them have experience, so it's as wide open of a competition as you can have there."

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