While it's speed that guaranteed a chance at this level for Dexter McCluster, it will be his versatility and ability to keep up to speed mentally that keeps him around.
"Dexter's doing a good job of really studying the game, studying his position, studying guys who are at his position who have been successful," notes Nick Sirianni, coach of the Chiefs' wide receivers.
His position; slot receiver.
Now, McCluster was never just going to get carries out of the backfield. In two years in KC he actually has six starts at receiver to five at running back, not to mention his more than capable return man skills.
It was the same in college at Ole Miss.
But now there's a chance to focus, to hone in on being a regular starter at a set position.
"Learning a lot of technique about the slot, ways to read the defense," McCluster says. "Guys like Terrance Copper, that's been in the league a long time, he knows the ins and outs, he knows X, Y, Z with every set, he knows it. So little advice that he gives me and the coaching tips that Coach Nick gives me, gives me the upper hand."
Tips from Coach Nick on the field and as he alluded earlier, off it, doing the homework...
"We got a lot of tapes for him to study. The good guys in the league in the past and also the good guys in the league in the present - he's taken to it, the mental part of the game, and really improved in the mental part of the game," Sirianni says.
Now he says he's going to begin modeling himself after guys like Davone Bess of the Miami Dolphins, and Wes Welker of the New England Patriots.
"I watch those guys, and I know I'm a different player, and I just do whatever I can to get open," says McCluster.
Of course that has never been a problem. Nail the technique and the rest is second nature.
"Everybody knows how explosive Dexter is, and being at that position, his quickness and things like that, when he's out there in space it's just another way Coach Daboll can get the ball to him and so he'll be able to hit the creases and make big plays," notes fellow receiver Steve Breason.
The preseason is quickly proving Breaston and Coach Nick correct.
It helps that he's already been on the receiving end of 50 passes from his quarterback on Sundays.
"Me and Matt (Cassel), we're very close," McCluster says, "If I mess up he lets me know, if he messes up he owns up to it. But we're working together, I think we're on the same page right now and we really have a good chemistry. I'm enjoying every moment of playing slot receiver."
If he's anything like a Welker or a Bess, Chiefs fans will enjoy those moments just as much.
(Nick King, KODE, Joplin, Mo
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