No sign yet that Bowe will bounce back

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs made their decision on Dwayne Bowe for better or for worse last year when they signed him to a lucrative, long-term contract.

They didn’t get their money’s worth from their No. 1 wide receiver last year, when he had the worst statistical full season of his career. Bowe failed to lead the Chiefs in receiving for the first time since they traded Tony Gonzalez after the 2008 season.

But in part because of Bowe’s big contract, the Chiefs were limited in their ability to pursue a receiver in free agency. The only wide receiver likely to make the regular-season roster who wasn’t with the Chiefs last season is rookie Albert Wilson, an undrafted free agent.

So their best chance to see dramatic improvement at the position may rest with Bowe. He had a tough day at practice on Wednesday, dropping a pair of passes and deflected another for an interception.

That’s hardly an indication that Bowe won’t rebound this season. But he hasn’t had a great camp and the Chiefs may be guilty of wishful thinking when it comes to their top wide receiver.

Bowe in September will turn 30, the age when the skills of many receivers start their decline. Could it be that process has already started with Bowe?

We’ll find out soon. Chiefs wide receivers coach David Culley said Bowe is in much better shape than he was last summer. Bowe said he’s in the best shape of his career.

“I know from last year, it’s completely different,’’ said Culley, who in his second season with the Chiefs. “Thirty is a mindset. There’s old 30s and there’s young 30s. Which 30 do you want to be? When he came back, he came back as a young 30 and that’s what you have to do to play in this league for a long time.’’

The Chiefs need Culley to be right. If he’s not, it would be obvious the Chiefs made the wrong decision last year on Bowe.