Chiefs’ backup QBs Murray, Bray and Hogan are set to compete
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — Tyler Bray and Kevin Hogan strolled side-by-side toward Scanlon Hall, their home for the next few weeks of training camp, almost as if they had already formed some sort of alliance.
Maybe they intend to vote Aaron Murray off in the Chiefs’ version of "Quarterback Survivor."
All three of them arrived at Missouri Western on Tuesday, along with rookies and some other select veterans, to begin the true audition to be Alex Smith’s backup. Murray may enter the race as the slight favorite, but all of them will have an opportunity to get on the field.
"This is a great three days for the quarterbacks to get re-acclimated to the offense, the terminology, the situational offense," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. "It’s a great week for them."
Reid acknowledged that training camp is a better barometer in the quarterback race than the voluntary workouts and minicamp that marked the summer. But he also said that nothing is likely to be decided until his young quarterbacks get on the field for some preseason games.
The first of those isn’t until Aug. 13, when Seattle visits Arrowhead Stadium.
Smith has been a durable starter during his time in Kansas City, somewhat assuaging the fear of an unproven youngster under center. But the Chiefs had also had the comfort of a veteran in Chase Daniel if something should go awry, and that security blanket left for the Philadelphia Eagles.
It’s possible the Chiefs could still add a veteran quarterback in camp, especially once the first round of cuts happen. But they are strapped for salary cap space, so it’s likely that one of the three quarterbacks who arrived at Missouri Western will have to earn the job.
Handicapping the race is about as difficult as learning Reid’s offense.
Bray has the strongest arm and biggest frame of the bunch, and the former undrafted free agent out of Tennessee has been in the system the longest. But he has also dealt with a number of injuries that have held him back the past few years, and he has yet to take a meaningful snap.
Asked to judge the competition, he replied: "You know as much as I know."
"It’s what you have to live for in the NFL," Bray continued. "There’s always going to be a guy coming in that’s going to be just as good as you are."
Murray was the first person brought in after Bray, a fifth-round draft pick a couple years ago out of Georgia. He may be the most polished of the three options, but he is somewhat undersized and some wonder whether he has enough arm strength to make the deep throws.
Still, he did have last season to absorb the offense, and the meticulous notes that he took while serving as the third backup behind Smith and Daniel will no doubt have paid off.
"It’s a big, open competition," he said. "I have to keep showing the coaches what I can do. I didn’t sit back the past couple of years. I paid attention and learned a lot from Alex and Chase."
Then there is Hogan, the biggest wild card. The Chiefs thought enough of him to select him in the fifth round of this year’s draft, despite a somewhat funky throwing motion, and he played in a similar-style offense at Stanford that could help him with the steep NFL learning curve.
"I think competition is good," Hogan said, "no matter where. It’s healthy."
In other news, Reid said that star pass rusher Justin Houston would attend camp but would not participate in any of the football activities. Houston had surgery in February to repair the ACL in his left knee, and the Chiefs hope he will be able to play at some point this season.
Reid also said he was unsure how much Jamaal Charles will participate after surgery on his ACL last season. Charles attended the mandatory minicamp in July and should be ready for the regular-season opener Sept. 11 against San Diego.
The biggest question heading into Friday’s full-squad report day is whether safety Eric Berry will show up. Negotiations on a long-term contract broke down and Berry, who was designated Kansas City’s franchise player, does not need to report until he signs his contract. The one-year deal, at about $10.8 million, would make him the NFL’s highest-paid safety.
"There’s our feeling for him as a football player and there’s a business side of it, and they are two different things," Reid said. "I’m hoping he’s here. If he’s not, I understand that, too."