KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Rookie tight end James O'Shaughnessy acknowledged that he was more than a little in awe his first couple of times on the Kansas City Chiefs' practice field.
O'Shaughnessy played for a FCS, or Division I-AA, school in college at Illinois State. That step to an NFL practice field was big enough to be a dizzying one.
"The first couple of days, it kind of hit me smack in the face," O'Shaughnessy said. "For the last two weeks, it's started to sink in that I'm a part of this team and I can compete at this level and play with some of the great guys I've been watching the last six, seven years. To play on the same field as Travis Kelce and Jamaal Charles and Alex Smith is unbelievable to me.
O'Shaughnessy indeed recovered from his initial awe. The fifth-round draft pick is getting plenty of work with the starters in offseason practice as a second tight end along with Travis Kelce. The Chiefs are looking for help at the position for now because recent foot surgery is prohibiting Demetrius Harris from participating.
But clearly the Chiefs aren't treating O'Shaughnessy like he's a developmental prospect. They have yet to put on pads for practice and the game could change for O'Shaughnessy and it becomes more physical.
They expect he will adapt as well as could reasonably be expected from a rookie from Illinois State. That's how far he's come in the three weeks of offseason practice.
"I'll be honest," he said. "The first two days I was a little nervous to see if I belonged. That sounds awful but it is what it is and coming from a small I-AA you kind of have that insecurity in the back of your head. But within a week I felt pretty comfortable that I can compete at this level."
The Chiefs obviously agree. Toward the end of Thursday's practice, the Chiefs split into three groups based on the depth chart and they each headed to their separate portions of the practice field for drills.
O'Shaughnessy went with Kelce and the starters. That, too, caught O'Shaughnessy by surprise.
"I guess you could say I'm surprised," he said. "Going against the No. 1 defense really gives you a clear idea of what you're going to face every Sunday.
"I would say I've had more ups than downs."