After going through the year as a member of the all-inactive squad, Ryan Krause emerged into a player that could suddenly have a role – even in the upcoming playoffs.
A former wide receiver, Krause was converted to tight end when he joined the Chargers. He was hesitant to accept that role after having a successful college career. But he knew it was necessary because his weight remained a bulkier than most wide receivers and the potential matchup problems he created.
During training camp, no player took a beating like Krause did. Tight ends' coach Tim Brewster was on his tail from the blow of the whistle. Brewster employed the same technique with Antonio Gates a year ago and look at the results.
The difference is Krause is still growing into his body at 23 and could use a little more strength. But visiting teams see him as a tight end and when he lines up in the slot with a linebacker on him, his speed allows him to create separation.
Sunday, it was his straight line attacking style that got the attention of everyone on the field. He rumbled his way for 29 yards, taking Kansas City defenders with him and maintaining his feet as would-be tacklers tried to bring him down.
"I wasn't trying to make anybody miss," he said. "I was just going straight. Nobody really grabbed my legs. They just bumped me, bumped me and didn't grab my legs to bring me down."
One player who did not suit up for the game took notice.
"You always wonder how a guy is going to do in a game," quarterback Drew Brees said. "But everything you saw out there we saw in practice. And even more so you try to make practice as hard as you can so that game day is easier. I think Krause probably realizes that. Practice is hard for him because coaches are in his ear all the time and he's in there running play after play on scout team and getting shuffled in and his head is spinning like crazy. But you get him out there on game day and it's just him out there, no coaches in his ear, it's just one play at a time, he's relaxed and able to turn it loose and play the game he knows he can play. I'm not surprised. We see that all the time."
Krause ended the day with a team-leading five receptions and 89 yards while snaring a touchdown.
It wasn't a perfect day for Krause. He admitted some alignment problems when Philip Rivers was in the game and that caused some confusion for the rookie. Although Krause and Rivers room together on the road, life on an NFL field went a little different than normal.
Then there were the rigors of an NFL game that threw Krause for a loop.
"My helmet came off a few times," he said laughing. "Then my shoe came off. I don't know what was going on…a rookie having fun."
Topping the charts was his touchdown grab from quarterback Doug Flutie. After the catch, Flutie came up to him and offered encouragement.
"He said, ‘you made a great play on the ball. Congratulations, you got your first touchdown.'"
Head coach Marty Schottenheimer mentioned that Krause has made a case for being active down the road. He played a strong game and poses a real problem for safeties and linebackers trying to cover him. It is an eerily similar connection between Krause and Gates.
Whether he gets that chance remains in the coaches' hands but the media has already grasped on to the hero of the day.
Chargers rookie gets noticed
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