NFL Wire News

Chiefs’ Maclin sits and Conley makes his mark


The Sports Xchange

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — With starting wide receiver Jeremy Maclin technically eligible, but still inactive for the Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, rookie Chris Conley got the chance to start in the Kansas City Chiefs offense.

It was a chance for him to make up for what was a bad performance the week before in the game against Minnesota, where he dropped several catchable passes.

“It feels great after a shaky week last week for me,” Conley said. “For the team to come out and for (quarterback) Alex (Smith) to still believe in me and give me those opportunities speaks volumes of his trust.”

Nobody with the Chiefs is going to forget about a third-round draft choice playing just his seventh NFL game. He was a factor in the team’s 23-13 win over the Steelers. Conley showed why he was selected, catching six passes for 63 yards and his first NFL touchdown grab, a 6-yarder. Smith said a strong preparation week made all the difference for his rookie.

Maclin actually passed all levels of the NFL concussion protocol according to the Chiefs, but they still held their leading receiver out of Sunday’s game against Pittsburgh.

“There’s a lot of layers to this thing and we felt as a group that it was best to hold him,” said Chiefs head trainer Rick Burkholder after the game. “That’s what we do as a medical staff in the NFL. We’re charged with protecting these players and we made the decision to hold him. He’ll be evaluated again (Monday) to see what his status will be for London.”

Meanwhile, Conley made the most of his opportunity, despite not knowing he was going to get the shot.

“With Jeremy going through the whole process, he got a lot of reps and he had a whole week of preparation,” Smith said. “Then, I think the longer you do it, the more this slows down for you. You’re better at processing all the new stuff that comes in and retaining it on game day.”

Through the season’s first seven games, Conley has caught 13 passes for 154 yards and his first touchdown.

–Like a lot of football coaches, Andy Reid has an on-again/off-again relationship with his kicker. But second-year booter Cairo Santos is winning over his head coach with games like the one he had Sunday against Pittsburgh where he hit three of four field-goal attempts, missing only from 54 yards. Those nine points were very important for the Chiefs in the first half of their victory over the Steelers.

Santos has now made 15 of 19 field-goal attempts, a success rate of 78.9 percent. That doesn’t rank high in the NFL this season, but in recent games he’s been the team’s biggest point producer, hitting 12 field goals for 36 points in the last four games. The Chiefs scored a total of 71 points in those games.

“Right now he’s kicking as well as anybody out there,” Reid said. “He’s got to keep his focus. It’s a long season and it’s important that he keeps working the way he’s working. He puts a lot of pressure on himself during practice and he’s got to maintain that and stay sharp. You want to keep yourself in rhythm.”

–Safety Eric Berry recorded his first interception of the season on a pass tipped by Pittsburgh wide receiver Antonio Brown in the middle of the field. For the cancer survivor, it was another marker along the road of his recovery over the last 11 months.

“It would have been a big play if we didn’t get the win,” said Berry. “But getting the pick and helping the team get the win, I think that was a big part of it. We’ll keep moving forward and seeing what we can come up with.”

Berry’s last interception before Sunday was in December 2013 at Oakland.

Notes: Defensive end Mike DeVito (concussion) was inactive for Sunday’s game after not passing all of the NFL concussion protocols. … Inside linebacker Ramik Wilson (knee/ankle) was inactive and his status going forward has yet to be determined.

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