Chiefs Youngster ‘Took Advantage’ of Starter’s Camp Injury: Report

Noah Gray

Getty Kansas City Chiefs tight end Noah Gray at training camp in 2021.

The Kansas City Chiefs are “suffering” from a good problem — they have high-quality depth at multiple positions and they may have to part with some decent players because of it.

One area where this affliction is evident is at tight end. Not only do the Chiefs have the best TE in the business in Travis Kelce, but they also have a strong supporting cast around him.

Unfortunately, a key member of that depth — Jody Fortson — picked up a quad injury at training camp. On the bright side, the minor setback has opened the door for another.

ALL the latest Chiefs news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Chiefs newsletter here!

Join Heavy on Chiefs!

Gray a ‘Tick Faster’ in 2022

In place of Fortson, 2021 fifth-rounder Noah Gray has been receiving first-team reps in two-tight end sets. He’s also been making the most of his time with the starters according to Arrowhead Pride’s Pete Sweeney.

“TE Noah Gray took advantage of the first-team looks in Fortson’s absence,” he tweeted on August 1, “making several catches during scrimmage periods.”

Sweeney added that “everything went Gray’s way” that practice, even a tipped ball that deflected right to JuJu Smith-Schuster for a touchdown. He also noted that the second-year prospect “looks a tick faster this year.”

It’s not the first time that Sweeney has noticed that last part. On July 28, he voiced a similar thought: “In 7-on-7, I am noticing that TE Noah Gray looks a tick faster than he was last year. We probably won’t speak to him for a bit, but I wonder if he slimmed down just a tad.”

At the time, Sweeney also called Gray versus Blake Bell a “sneaky camp battle to watch” if the Chiefs decide not to keep four tight ends. I think he might update that statement now with journeyman Jordan Franks gaining more and more attention.

Follow the Heavy on Chiefs Facebook page, where you can weigh in on all the latest KC-related daily content, analysis, features and more!

Legitimate Battle at Tight End

Most NFL coaches don’t keep four tight ends. Going one step further, it’s extremely rare for teams to roster a fourth TE plus a fullback.

Chiefs head coach Andy Reid did both in 2021, with four tight ends and FB Michael Burton.

That sets up an absolute war at this position in training camp when you consider the emergence of Fortson, and now Franks, over the past couple of offseasons. Sweeney detailed the aforementioned good problem to have.

“Speaking of depth tight ends that looked good on Monday, I thought TEs Jordan Franks and Matt Bushman made the most of their limited opportunity,” he added on August 1. “This year’s Chiefs are tight-end rich, and I imagine at least one lands on the practice squad even if they keep four.”

Let’s break this down. Barring injury, Kelce and Fortson are locks to make the 53-man roster. As a very recent draft selection that’s been showing some promise, you have to think that Gray will make it too. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that special teams coordinator Dave Toub likes him.

That sets up a potential cage match between the prototypical in-line blocker (Bell), the exciting pass-catcher (Franks), the intriguing pick-up (Bushman), and the versatile veteran (Burton). At least one or two of those players should make the team but Gray might end up being a huge factor in who does and who doesn’t, based on his unique skill set.

Earlier today on August 3, The Chiefs Wire’s Charles Goldman broke down the three tight ends that he expects to make the roster: “Bell is the only one fit for in-line run-blocking outside of Kelce, he can do stuff like this on occasion, plus the Belldozer wildcat QB sneak stuff. Fortson is a red zone nightmare and legit No. 2 receiving option behind Kelce. Gray is used as an H-Back & on the wings, great at doing all the pre-snap motion stuff. Solid at pass-blocking and has shown growth as a pass-catcher in camp.”

Given that “H-back” ability from Gray, fans have pondered whether or not he could oust Burton from the roster. Others have had similar thoughts about Bell, should his in-line blocking improve. Although Goldman thinks all five will stay put, including the fullback, it’s certainly an interesting storyline to keep an eye on as the summer rolls on.


Read More