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Chiefs notebook: Smith OK with KC’s snap decision

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Along with developing rapport with new receivers, Kansas Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith is working with new centers after spending his first two Kansas City seasons taking snaps from Rodney Hudson.

Free agency saw Hudson leave for the Oakland Raiders, and now working at the top of the K.C. depth chart at center are third-year man Eric Kush and 2015 second-round draft choice Mitch Morse.

“I’ve had Kush here the last couple years and to be honest, it’s been very, very seamless,” Smith said. “Rodney is a heck of a player and is missed. I haven’t really missed a beat. Kush has stepped in, he knows the offense, he knows what we’re doing and he’s a really good communicator. He and I already have a really good rapport together.”

Morse has been working with the second offense, sometimes mixing in with the starters at guard.

“Mitch is quickly picking things up and we’re cross-training him at both center and guard,” said offensive line coach Andy Heck. “We love his quickness and his leverage. He’s a very explosive guy.”

Right now Kush has the edge for claiming the starting job.

“He’s been in our system now for a couple years,” said Heck of the 2013 sixth-round draft choice. “He knows our calls. He’s been drilling our techniques for a couple years. He’s right where he needs to be.”

— In his rookie season last year, De’Anthony Thomas joined the Chiefs and was assigned to work with the running backs and assistant coach Eric Bieniemy. When De’Anthony showed up six weeks ago for the start of this year’s Chiefs offseason program, Thomas was told to join the wide receivers and assistant coach David Culley.

After getting a look up close at the type of speed and quickness the diminutive Thomas can bring the offense, coach Andy Reid and his staff hope to give him more chances on the edge of the defense.

“Basically after looking at it, we used him more as a wide receiver coming out of the backfield catching balls,” said Culley. “It just made sense for him to be in that room learning what it is to be a wideout doing those same things. Now, he’s more outside, he’s getting comfortable with it, he’s learning and doing a heck of a job.”

Last season in limited offensive snaps, Thomas caught 23 passes for only 156 yards, with 30 of those yards coming on one play. The other 22 catches went for 126 yards, a paltry average of 5.7 yards for a guy with his explosive talents.

“(Thomas) feet are remarkable,” said quarterback Alex Smith. “In and out of cuts, the speed he has, the burst, those are all things that I think that can help compensate because he is a little undersized (5-9). All of a sudden guys are scared of his speed, so he does get cushion. Guys are afraid of being able to get a hand on him and all of a sudden he’s going to be gone.”

— The rules change on PAT kicks has dominated the special teams portions of the Chiefs OTA sessions in the first two weeks. Kicking game coach Dave Toub is giving extra time in his portions of practice to working with kicker Cairo Santos and his field-goal protection unit.

With the snap moved to the 15-yard line, the PAT has become a 33-yard kick and will no longer have that 99.4 percent success rate of last season.

“It’s a big difference,” said Toub. “You can’t mishit a 33-yard field goal. If you mishit, you’re going to miss. A lot of times with those kicks on the two-yard line, you can have a bad hit and it’s going to go through no matter what. (Santos) has got to focus and we’ve really got to practice. We’ll be practicing a lot more, and we have to make that 33-yard extra point mentally seem just like a PAT last year. We’ll have to kick a lot of them.”

The other part of the new PAT that Toub has his group working on is protection. The defensive rush will be tougher to handle, especially up the middle, because the chance of a fake is gone.

“Nobody’s going to want to try to run a fake for two points from the 15-yard line; it’s too hard to get,” said Toub. “Chances of a fake are slim so guys are going to try to go after it a little more … the mindset of the field goal team too that’s going to change. They have to be a lot more solid because they’re going to get some hard pressure up the middle.”


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