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Archive for Tuesday, August 11, 1998

August 11, 1998

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— Chiefs tight end Tony Gonzalez likely will be a prime target of QB Elvis Grbac this season, which is just fine with Gonzalez.

Tony Gonzalez cracked a wide smile as a zealous Chiefs fan asked if he'd make a good fantasy league pick this season.

``Get on it, baby,'' Gonzalez exclaimed. ``I'll go out and play my hardest.''

Gonzalez, Kansas City's second-year tight end out of California-Berkeley, is expected to dramatically increase his totals of 33 receptions for 368 yards and two touchdowns of a year ago.

Everybody seems to be impressed with everything about the 6-foot-4, 244-pounder.

``I've been around some good tight ends in the past,'' KC quarterback Elvis Grbac said. ``He has more talent and ability than all of those guys combined. He can do a lot of things and he can play in this league a long time. He's in a very good situation right now. He understands how good he is and how hard he has to work at it. I think he's just going to get better every year.''

Especially with Grbac planning on throwing him the ball ... a lot. Gonzalez has been kept busy at practice, chasing down short passes and deep ones alike.

``That's something I want,'' Gonzalez said. ``If the coaches and players want to throw me the ball, that's fine with me. I don't want to set any goals for what I can do this year. Put it this way: I want to do a lot better than I did last year. And I'm not just talking about my stats. I'm just talking about as a player.

``We've got some good receivers. Andre Rison, Derrick Alexander. You can't double-team everybody. That's going to create some one-on-one matchups for me.''

Those are matchups coach Marty Schottenheimer and new offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye figure to exploit.

``A guy with physical skills at that position can create a lot of problems for a defense. That's what we're trying to capitalize on,'' Schottenheimer said.

It also doesn't hurt that Grbac and Gonzalez are in their second year together. Familiarity breeds receptions.

``It's getting to the point where I know all his different moves,'' Grbac said.

His best move may be his vertical jump. He is a former basketball player who can sky.

``The tight end is a unique position in football. A lot of them have played basketball,'' Schottenheimer said. ``To find a guy who has the athletic skills to run and jump and catch and then the ability to stand in there and block guys that weight 290 and 300 pounds, it's hard to find that.

``You can get one guy who can block and sometimes the guy who can run and catch. But often times the guy who can run and catch can block but doesn't want to block. He views himself as a receiver.''

Gonzalez is working to improve as a blocker.

``He's got the skills you need and competitive nature you have to have,'' Schottenheimer said. ``Blocking is no fun if you are a guy who can catch 80 balls. He's got a way to go. I'm not going to stand around and say he's going to be here or there or whatever.

``That is not fair to the kid. I know this. He's got talent and he's got great competitiveness about him. He has got great pride in what he does. Take those qualities and combine them you usually have a chance to get a pretty good football player.''

-- Gary Bedore's phone number is 832-7186. His e-mail address is gbedore@ljworld.com.

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