Another undrafted diamond in the rough, Lance Long is now a Chief after making a splash in Arizona’s training camp the last two years.
The former college walk-on made the Cardinals’ practice squad last season after making just about every catch thrown his way, some reportedly on acrobatic leaps and dives. After a repeat performance this preseason, his hard work paid off. Long was one of five players featured on NFL.com’s “On The Fringe”, and he ended up beating the odds to make Arizona’s final 53-man roster to begin the 2009 season.
The celebration was short lived however, as Lance was cut after just one game. Chiefs’ head coach Todd Haley had witnessed Long’s abilities first hand while serving as offensive coordinator in the desert, and was there to scoop him up two days after being let go by the Cardinals.
After being declared inactive for five games, Long finally got another chance to get back onto the field. Two games ago against San Diego Lance was targeted five times, tying him with Dwayne Bowe for second-most on the team. Then, this past game against the Jaguars he one-upped everyone by leading the team in receptions and targets, and tied Bowe for the most receiving yards, finishing with an impressive 8 catches for 74 yards on 11 touches.
Matt Cassel hasn’t been the Chiefs’ quarterback long enough to have a clear cut favorite. While Dwayne Bowe has the physical tools to be one of the game’s best, playing on a rebuilding team with new faces at key spots, there is no guarantee this will be the regime to capitalize on his immense skill set. Newly acquired Chris Chambers is a former second-round pick with nine years of experience, and was likely picked up in many leagues based on his two-TD debut this past weekend.
Flying under the radar is Long. His upside is that he is a sure handed receiver on a team hungry for consistent production. Think Wes Welker.
If you don’t have the roster space to afford to carry Lance Long just yet, at least monitor his progress and see if his Week 9 performance was the beginning of a pattern or a mirage.
This article also appears on Undrafteds.com