As recently as Saturday morning, Cyrus Gray was still sweating over whether he would make the Chiefs' regular-season roster. By this morning, he was frequently the featured back on passing downs at practice.
It’s not as dramatic of a turn in fortunes as it might sound. Gray made the roster because of his skills in the passing game, as well as his ability to cover kickoffs and punts.
The Chiefs kept Gray instead of their other running back candidate, Shaun Draughn, because Gray is better as a pass-protector and receiver. The Chiefs don’t need another back to run the ball. They have Jamaal Charles and rookie Knile Davis for that.
But they do need some help on third downs and Gray was the one mostly filling that role today. Gray, a sixth-round draft pick last season, played little as a rookie but played in a pro-style offense at Texas A&M and caught 103 passes over four years.
“A big part of it is pass protection,’’ Gray said when asked why he thought he made the team. “I take pride in that part of my game. I’ve been doing well at it and I have to continue to do well.’’
Charles will play some in obvious passing situations, too. But the Chiefs don’t appear comfortable using Davis that way. He dropped a number of passes in camp and in the preseason and he's still learning to pass block.
“I wouldn’t compare the two that way,’’ coach Andy Reid said of playing Gray ahead of Davis, a third-round draft pick. “Knile has come a long way in that area and done a nice job with his protection and with catching the ball. I will also tell you that’s one of Cyrus’ strengths. He does a nice job. He had a few chances this past game to do some blitz pickup and protection there and he did a nice job with it.’’