Younger wideouts get chance to show off

Friday, August 6, 2004

Associated Press

RIVER FALLS, Wis. -- With three of Kansas City's top four wide receivers out with injury, some promising younger players will get a chance to show what they can do during weekend scrimmages with the Minnesota Vikings.

But the injuries also mean top players in an area where the Chiefs need to improve are missing valuable practice time.

''I'd rather have them out here,'' coach Dick Vermeil said Wednesday.

''The stamina development, the coordination with the quarterback and the scheme, all the little things, the nuances that take place on the practice field.''

The injured players -- Eddie Kennison, Johnnie Morton and Marc Boerigter -- are all expected back within a week, Vermeil said.

''But they're missing stamina work,'' he said. ''Run, run run, get your gas tank filled up again and go run some more. Nobody has to run like wide receivers do.''

Taking full advantage of their chance are a couple of undrafted free agents -- Richard Smith from Arkansas and Zack Fletcher from Alabama.

The 5-foot-10, 191-pound Smith has made several eye-catching receptions and moves.

An exceptional athlete, he was a two-time All-American while competing in the triple jump and long jump.

''Richard Smith has done an awfully good job,'' Vermeil said.

''He's a gifted athlete, a long-jumper and has shown some of those skills. Right now he's sort of running out of gas. But he's been impressive. He'll be very competitive.

"Zach Fletcher's done a good job. A number of those wide receivers have done a good job," he said.

Jeris McIntyre, a sixth-round draft pick from Auburn, has also made strides, after missing the spring drills with a hamstring pull.

Like all the Chiefs' rookies, the wide receivers are also competing for a spot on the practice squad, which has been expanded from five players to eight.

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