Though his 2014 season with the Chiefs, didn’t light up the stat sheet, he was a stabling influence on the Chiefs receivers and offered a professionalism for everyone to model their game after at the wide receiver position.
When free agency began in March, Avant had choices to land with another team. Though in his heart he wanted to remain in Kansas City. So when the Chiefs signed his former Philadelphia Eagles teammate, Jeremy Maclin, the decision to return was a no-brainer.
Still Avant is on the downside of his career, so any real expectations entering the 2015 season, would be nothing but an educated guess – that he could become a starter opposite Maclin. Yet that’s not the entire reason he’s a part of this franchise.
“First of all, I come out to play and lead by example. That’s the biggest thing. Again, if you are a guy that just talks and your play doesn’t back it up, guys won’t listen to you. First of all, you have to lead by example,” Avant stated after practice on Tuesday.
”We have a lot of guys that are hungry to learn and that’s good and those guys listen and take advice. We don’t have any arrogant guys, so it’s always good. If you’re humble, you’ll be able to learn,” he said.
To me, that’s what makes Avant such a great fit in Kansas City. Forget the familiarity with Reid and Maclin, and the fact he knows the offense better than anyone, he’s a team first guy that just wants to help his teammates win.
Still he has to make plays on the field and that means adjusting to the fact his head coach, unlike in Philadelphia, runs the ship on offense.
“When I was in Philly, Andy wasn’t calling the plays. Here he does a lot of that. It’s seamless because I know what he expects, but at the same time, you have to get used to what he thinks about routes – it was different from (former Eagles) Coach (Marty) Mornhinweg. Both of them are great, so you just have to learn his philosophy behind things. I can basically tell you what Marty would say, every word, in a meeting. But Coach, I’m still learning,” Avant said.
That willingness not to assume what he knows and embrace what he doesn’t, sets Avant apart. It would be easy to say I got this or I get it, the fact he’s still evolving, learning and taking cues from a man who has coached him before, should tell you everything you need about his desire to succeed.
Yet the deciding factor on his ultimate contributions this year might depend on his quarterback, Alex Smith. Unlike a year ago, when Avant joined the Chiefs in mid-season, chemistry between the two receivers took time.
This year the combo has spent the entire off-season together and that should help Avant climb into a bigger role in the passing game.
“Alex is always trying to get the ball out of his hands quicker, so you have to be on his time. That’s one of the biggest things, the timing is a lot different,” Avant said.
“Every quarterback is different, but Alex is one of those guys that wants it out at a certain time. If you have man-to-man and the route normally times out at 10-yards, he’s still going to throw it like it’s in the air, so you have to know that you can only get eight (yards) now. All of those little things, so I’d say that’s the biggest thing, which is a good thing.”
That good thing is something the Chiefs hope to achieve with their passing game this season. Should that occur, its quite likely Avant would be in the middle of that resurgence.
Photos: Jason Bridge USA Today Sports & Matt Kartozian USA Today Sports