St. Joseph, Mo. Tony Moeaki spent most of the Kansas City Chiefs’ offseason workouts watching from the sideline with a baseball cap on his head. Donnie Avery did the same thing.
They’re both happy to have a helmet on instead.
Moeaki had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee after last season, keeping the tight end from participating in the first round of practices under new coach Andy Reid. Avery only managed to get in a couple workouts before a high ankle sprain sidelined the wide receiver.
“Good, it’s good to be back out here. It was a long offseason,” Moeaki said after a workout Wednesday on the campus of Missouri Western. “The training staff did a great job of getting me back and I’m just excited to be out here.”
Moeaki is no stranger to the Chiefs’ training staff.
He has a history of injury problems dating back to his college days at Iowa, and that hasn’t changed with the Chiefs. He missed time his rookie season with a head injury, and then missed the entire 2011 season with a torn ACL. He was bothered by a shoulder injury last season, too.
He can’t afford to miss any time under a new regime.
Reid and new general manager John Dorsey aggressively sought to upgrade the tight end position during the offseason, luring away free agent Anthony Fasano from the Miami Dolphins and then drafting Travis Kelce in the third round to provide a downfield threat.
The Chiefs envision using their tight ends much as the New England Patriots and Detroit Lions have done the past few years — as bulldozers, for Pro Bowl running back Jamaal Charles, and as options in the passing game for new quarterback Alex Smith.
“They like to use the tight ends, move us around, so we just have to be prepared and ready to go every day,” Moeaki said. “There’s some carry-over (in terminology), but football is football.”
Moeaki has been a reliable receiver when healthy, catching 80 passes for 1,009 yards and four touchdowns. But he’s only played in 29 games over three seasons — and now has competition.
“We have a great tight end group,” Moeaki said. “Just have to keep working hard, keep paying attention in the meetings. Every year, everyone is fighting for a starting spot. I’m just coming out here — I’m not putting expectations on myself. I’m just trying to do the best I can.”
Avery doesn’t have to worry about his place on the team.
The Chiefs cut Steve Breaston during the offseason, and signed Avery to become the slot wide receiver and speedy deep threat that Breaston never was. But his start in Reid’s system has been slowed by an ankle sprain sustained more than two months ago.
“The first two days I’m a little sore, but I feel good. Good to get back and get my feet wet again,” Avery said. “I’m glad I’m here, getting good chemistry with the quarterback and getting more reps than I would in training camp, so I’m happy.”
Avery was drafted in the second round by the St. Louis Rams, and had a couple of productive seasons before tearing his own ACL and missing the 2010 season. He played sparingly for the Titans a couple years ago but started to show flashes of his speed last season in Indianapolis.
He caught 60 passes for 781 yards and three touchdowns.
“Whatever my role is, I’m here to play it,” Avery said. “Coach came and got me for a reason.”
Moeaki and Avery have been joined in practice this week by running back Shaun Draughn, who was dealing with a sports hernia during the offseason program. Because they were injured, they’re eligible to report along with the rookies before the rest of the squad arrives on Thursday.
“I’m fine. I had surgery in May, did rehab — a lot of rehab over the summer — during OTAs and I’m good as new,” Draughn said. “I’m trying to get my mind back right with the plays.”