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Chiefs may finally be rewarded for their patience with Frankie Hammond Jr.

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- His career arc suggests this is the season that the Kansas City Chiefs will be rewarded for their patience with wide receiver Frankie Hammond Jr.

They kept Hammond on their practice squad in 2013 when he was an undrafted rookie. He got some playing time last year but wasn’t very productive with it, catching just four passes.

Now the Chiefs believe Hammond is prepared to take that next step and help energize what last season was a sluggish passing game. They’ve been that encouraged by what they’ve seen from Hammond at training camp, first as a backup and the last couple of days as the starting lineup replacement for the injured Jeremy Maclin.

“You’re beginning to see the gains and strides from his hard work out here on the field,’’ offensive coordinator Doug Pederson said. “He’s put himself in a really good position to play quite a bit for us on offense.

“He’s playing faster. He understands his role, and he understands what we’re trying to get done offensively with him and he’s making plays. You see him show up time and time again and that’s encouraging.’’

Since Andy Reid’s arrival as head coach in 2013, the Chiefs haven’t always been rewarded for their patience with younger receivers. At this time last year, they were still hopeful that A.J. Jenkins would be a productive receiver. Of course, that didn’t happen.

Similarly, there are no guarantees for Hammond. As Maclin’s backup, he probably won’t play much.

“I’m trying to show them I can fill that void whenever Maclin needs a rest or has an injury,’’ Hammond said.

So far, so good, at least at training camp.