Tanoh Kpassagnon showing interesting versatility for a big man

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- Perhaps sensing a mismatch, the Kansas City Chiefs’ offense, three times in a recent training camp practice, tried to complete a pass to a running back who was covered by a 289-pound rookie, Tanoh Kpassagnon.

First Charcandrick West, then Orson Charles and finally the fastest back the Chiefs have, C.J. Spiller, tried to beat Kpassagnon down the field for a big play. They didn’t get a completion, much less a big play. All three passes fell harmlessly away.

Kpassagnon, the Chiefs’ second-round draft pick, wasn’t impressed by any of it.

"I knew I could do it," Kpassagnon said. "I’ve still got to get better at it, being able to turn around and get a pick. [Running downfield with a back] is not enough."

Kpassagnon is the only one not impressed. He was drafted as a defensive end and, at 6-foot-7 and 289 pounds, he has the big body the Chiefs like at the position.

But he’s played a variety of spots along the defensive line as well as outside linebacker, his position when he was covering the running backs. He’s displayed some skills as a pass-rusher and the ability to help the Chiefs as a rookie at a number of different positions.

“We’ve been playing him at multiple positions, which we’re probably going to have to do throughout this year," defensive coordinator Bob Sutton said. “He’s adapted very well, and he’s demonstrated that he’s not uncomfortable standing up as an outside linebacker. That’s a big part of it.

“Obviously, he’s a big, tall, rangy guy with great length. We’re trying to find a good role for him right now."

Kpassagnon played 49 snaps in Friday night’s preseason opener, more than all but one other defensive player. Those snaps came from several positions.

"They’re definitely trying to see what I can do," he said. "They definitely wanted to put me in different places. ... They’re definitely trying to see where I fit best, and I liked it."

His versatility is something the Chiefs discovered because he was a basic defensive end in college at Villanova. The Chiefs decided after seeing him at offseason practice that he may have other uses.

They’ve been rewarded before for trying players at positions they previously haven’t played. The Chiefs made a high-quality kickoff returner out of Knile Davis, and his 106-yard touchdown on the opening kick was the biggest play of their playoff win against the Houston Texans a year and a half ago.

“He’s just kind of taken this on,’’ Sutton said. “We started in [offseason practice], working with him a little bit, and we’ve picked it up here. We’re just going to keep giving him a little bit of both ... that’s really valuable because then you’ve got a guy that can swing between [several positions].

“He’s a very good athlete. He’s showing he’s pretty comfortable [in pass coverage]. The more he works at it, the better off he’s going to be. We’ll see where it takes him."