Chiefs Rookie Already Getting Starter Reps: ‘Above and Beyond What I Expected’

Getty Kansas City Chiefs running back Louis Rees-Zammit.

Kansas City Chiefs running back Louis Rees-Zammit, who joined the Chiefs this offseason via the International Pathway Program (IPP), has an uphill battle to make the team’s 2024 regular season roster.

But according to Chiefs special teams coordinator and assistant head coach Dave Toub, Rees-Zammit is already getting reps as a starter on special teams.

“Louis has done above and beyond what I expected. He can kick field goals… he can be a kickoff guy for us. He’s every bit as good as Justin (Reid) [when it comes to] moving the football and stuff like that on kickoffs. He’s really working hard on the [kick] returner job. I’ve got him in as the starter right now so he can get in as many reps as he can. But he’s a student of the game — he comes in after every practice, he wants to be great — he’s a great athlete.”

Though Toub admitted that Rees-Zammit has a long way to go mentality-wise since he has just begun playing football, it appears that the former rugby star’s athleticism has already proven to be a potential asset on kick returns as the Chiefs try to morph based on the NFL’s new kickoff rules.

Louis Rees-Zammit: a Former Welsh Rugby Star

It doesn’t take much time while watching Rees-Zammit’s rugby highlights to understand why the Chiefs signed him.

Rees-Zammit, 23, stands at 6-foot-3 and weighs 194 pounds. What stands out about the Wales native when watching his rugby tape is his quickness and long speed for his size, and all of that is blended with tackle-breaking ability. His speed showed up again during his IPP Pro Day when he ran a 4.43-second 40-yard dash, per the Associated Press on March 22, though he said afterward he was disappointed with that time and believes he can run low 4.3s, high 4.2s.

He has now given up a very successful rugby career to pursue a career in the NFL through the IPP. At the 2024 IPP Pro Day, Rees-Zammit ran a 4.43-second 40-yard dash, per the Associated Press on March 22, though he said afterward he was disappointed with that time and believes he can run low 4.3s, high 4.2s.

Rees-Zammit will not count against Kansas City’s 90-man roster or the team’s practice squad due to the IPP roster exemption, which is the main reason why he is essentially a risk-free addition for the Chiefs. Rees-Zammit comes at a very low cost (three years, $2.8 million, per Over The Cap) and does not take up a roster space.

If Rees-Zammit performs exceptionally this upcoming season, whether it be on offense or special teams, the Chiefs will have found themselves a diamond in the rough via the IPP. But if he can’t transfer his talents from the rugby pitch to an NFL field, then Kansas City can cut ties with him and suffer minimally from it.

Andy Reid Talks About Louis Rees-Zammit

Speaking to the media on April 15, Kansas City head coach Andy Reid discussed what the team’s plan is for Rees-Zammit as he embarks on a potential career in the NFL with the two-time defending Super Bowl champions.

“He (Louis Rees-Zammit) was introduced to this when he was young because his dad played six years in the European League (English Football League) and so he’s somewhat familiar with the sport,” Reid explained during his press conference. “He sure has had a lot of success with rugby and there are some similarities there, it’s a contact sport, he’s had to catch the ball and do those things and run with the ball. We’ll start him off at the running back position, get him to feel comfortable with that going forward here. He’s had an opportunity to also go down there to Dallas and work with Pat (Mahomes) and so again, he’ll get used to some of these calls and through our Zooms, the plays and then we’ll just see where it goes from there.

“Dave (Toub) will have an opportunity to have him on special teams and see where that goes” Reid continued. “That’s not an easy transition but he seems to be wired…. he’s been playing competitive rugby professionally since he was 17 years old. He’s sitting there at 23 years old, he’s had a pretty good career with that and kind of understands the professional game and the mindset of playing at a professional level.”

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