Thorpe Ready To Tackle The Offense

Wide receiver is one of the most difficult positions to learn in the NFL. Some rookies can never adapt their skills to the next level. But sometimes they just need to add confidence, and that's the case with second-year man Craphonso Thorpe.

When Herman Edwards was in New York, he ran an offense that featured a solid running game and an occasional deep ball. In Kansas City, the same applies. If the Chiefs' offense is going to carry on the tradition of being the best in the NFL, it needs a player with the skills of Craphonso Thorpe to step up his game.

Sophomore seasons are tricky in the NFL, but early on in OTAs, Thorpe has shown flashes of first-round talent. He would have been drafted in the first round had he not broken his leg in two places at the end of his sophomore season at Florida State. He came back in time to help the Seminoles the following fall, but he wasn't 100 percent. He entered the draft a year early and the Chiefs took him knowing he'd need time to learn the offense and recover from his injury.

Last season, Thorpe spent a considerable amount of time watching, learning and waiting for a chance to play. That never happened, as he was buried on the depth chart, but he never changed his demeanor and worked hard at practice everyday. He knew that in 2006 he'd get a chance with a new coach to show off his athletic playmaking skills.

"He has god-given speed," said Edwards. "You can't coach that."

Thorpe spent the off season getting stronger. He added about 12 pounds of muscle and looks like a completely different player on the practice field.

"This year I have more confidence," said Thorpe. "I'm more comfortable out on the field, which is a good thing. It's a little bit easier to me now than last year."

Thorpe flourished at Florida State when he knew he was going to get the ball. Outside of his junior year he was involved in one of the most potent offenses in the Southeastern Conference. But that's long forgotten at this point. He wants to get significant minutes playing for the Chiefs.

"I played all last year on the practice squad, this is my first time out there with the first team," said Thorpe. "There's a different sense of urgency as opposed to being on the practice squad."

When Edwards took over as coach, he made it clear that the best players would play regardless of age, position or status under the old regime. In other words, Thorpe now knows he has an opportunity that he didn't have last year. But he also knows that chances in the NFL are fleeting and right now he has to take advantage.

"I've heard that from a few of my teammates," said Thorpe. "Now the thing is you're out there on the field, so what are you going to do with it? Being out there is one thing, knowing what to do is one thing, but in this offense you have to understand the concepts. You can't just know what you're doing; you have to know what everybody on the field is doing."

Marc Boerigter and Chris Horn are no longer with the team, but Thorpe will still have competition. The Chiefs drafted Jeff Webb in the sixth round and signed several unrestricted free agent wide receivers. Webb and Thorpe will compete all summer long for back-up spots behind Eddie Kennison and Samie Parker. How they approach the opportunity before them will determine their playing fate in 2006.

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