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ST. JOSEPH [url=http://www.washingtonredskinsteamonline.com/stacy-mcgee-jersey]Cheap Stacy McGee Jersey[/url] , Mo. (AP) — The fastest member of the Kansas City Chiefs was drafted in the fifth round a couple of years ago.
Second-fastest? He went in the sixth last spring.
Now, if defensive back Tremon Smith can perform anything like Tyreek Hill when he steps onto the field for the Chiefs’ preseason opener against Houston on Thursday night, general manager Brett Veach and coach Andy Reid will have hit on something special at a position of tremendous need.
“I’m curious to see how he does in the games,” Reid acknowledged. “He’s a talented kid.”
There are more similarities between Smith and Hill than just their draft stock.
Both were taken from small schools, though their routes there were very different. Smith was an overlooked-if-undervalued quarterback coming out of high school who landed at Central Arkansas because bigger schools were unwilling to give him a chance, while Hill began his career at Oklahoma State before a domestic violence incident landed him at West Alabama.
Both are dynamic special teams players. Smith has turned enough heads in camp that he could be the starting kick returner, while Hill remains one of the top punt returners in the league.
Then there’s that speed — that world-class, can’t-catch-me speed.
The kind that terrifies opposing coaches.
“He’s a cheetah, so we can’t even compare. I stay in my line,” Smith said with a smile and a shake of his dreadlocked head. “Maybe I’m a lion, a lion is pretty fast. Of course it’s not a cheetah but I’m a little heavier. Lion is more dangerous though.”
The numbers bear it out. When Hill was preparing for the 2016 draft, he ran a 4.24-second 40-yard dash at his college pro day. Smith was clocked at 4.38 at his pro day in March.
Either way, that’s some serious speed.
The popular Madden video game even acknowledged Hill’s wheels this year, when it granted him a 98 on its 1-to-100 scale for speed [url=http://www.indianapoliscoltsteamonline.com/reggie-wayne-jersey]Reggie Wayne Jersey[/url] , making him the league’s fastest player.
“Only 98? I mean, I’m happy being the fastest but I feel like I was supposed to have 100,” Hill said. “Devin Hester had 100 and I’m faster than Devin Hester.”
Speaking of Hester, the longtime Bears special teams dynamo, he’s one of several players Chiefs special teams coach Dave Toub has been showing Smith on video. Toub also tutored Hester in Chicago and thinks Smith has the instincts and, yes, top-end speed to have a similar impact.
“Tremon, he’s really coming on as a corner, but we’re also developing him as a kick returner,” Toub said. “The way he catches the ball and gets to the top speed so fast, it’s pretty impressive.”
The Chiefs were taking a flier on Smith by selecting him in the sixth round, clearly reasoning his speed alone made him a worthwhile gamble. But he’s also turned some heads on defense, working his way into the mix with the second team at a position that could be crucial to Kansas City’s success.
The Chiefs are breaking in all new starters at that position, and while David Amerson [url=http://www.greenbaypackersteamonline.com/jason-spriggs-jersey]Jason Spriggs Jersey[/url] , Kendall Fuller and Steven Nelson are the front-runners, it could be hard to keep Smith off the field.
“I think he’s going to be a really interesting guy there,” defensive coordinator Bob Sutton said.
That shouldn’t necessarily come as a surprise. Smith picked off 15 passes over four years at Central Arkansas, even though teams rarely threw his direction. He also held his own against Power Five schools, picking off a pass against Oklahoma State in 2015 and leading Central Arkansas in tackles against Kansas State — his team’s only loss before the FCS playoffs last season.
Smith acknowledged the adjustment from a small school was tough. He was star struck walking into the locker room and seeing safety Eric Berry for the first time, and the size of the playbook and the nuances that come with an NFL defense represented a whole new world.
No problem, though. Smith is getting up to speed.
As you’d expect, he’s doing it fast.
NOTES: LBs Reggie Ragland (knee) and Anthony Hitchens (hamstring) took part in some of Monday’s practice, working together for the first time in camp. … WR Sammy Watkins left practice early with a hip issue, though the extent of it is unclear. OL Dillon Gordon left with a shoulder injury.
Yangervis Solarte provided power from both sides of the plate to help the Toronto Blue Jays end a record stretch of futility against left-handed pitchers.
Solarte hit two home runs, Devon Travis also connected and the Blue Jays beat the Washington Nationals 6-5 on Friday night, their fifth straight home victory.
Washington has lost five of seven on the road.
Justin Smoak broke a 3-3 tie with a sacrifice fly in the seventh inning and Solarte, batting left-handed, followed with a two-run shot off right-hander Justin Miller. Solarte was batting right-handed when he homered in Toronto’s three-run third [url=http://www.greenbaypackersteamonline.com/kentrell-brice-jersey]http://www.greenbaypackersteamonline.com/kentrell-brice-jersey[/url] , a solo blast off left-hander Gio Gonzalez (6-3).
”I was lucky enough that I had good opportunities and we took advantage of it,” Solarte said.
The victory snapped Toronto’s team-worst 11-game losing streak against lefty starting pitchers.
”We’re better than that,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. ”That shouldn’t happen like that.”
Solarte is the ninth player in Blue Jays history to homer from both sides of the plate. The last to do it was Kendrys Morales against Oakland on July 27, 2017. The homers were Solarte’s 13th and 14th of the season, extending his team lead and coming a year after his career high of 18.
It’s the second time Solarte has achieved the feat, having done it also against Arizona on May 27, 2016 while with the San Diego Padres.
”It’s hard but it’s my job,” Solarte said.
Travis hit a two-run home run in the third, his third.
Seunghwan Oh (2-2) pitched one inning for the win and Ryan Tepera stranded the potential tying run at third base in the ninth to earn his fourth save in seven opportunities.
Wilmer Difo hit a leadoff single in the ninth, then stole second and advanced on a fly ball. Tepera escaped by getting Adam Eaton to ground out and striking out Trea Turner.
Gonzalez allowed season-worsts of five runs and nine hits in six-plus innings. The left-hander has allowed four or more earned runs in consecutive outings.
Travis singled to begin the seventh and Teoscar Hernandez followed with a fly ball that right fielder Eaton lost in the twilight.
”I had it off the bat but as soon as it goes up, it’s a pretty helpless feeling,” Eaton said.
After the ball dropped for a ground-rule double, Miller came on and surrendered Smoak’s sacrifice fly and Solarte’s two-run blast.
”We had one fly ball that we didn’t see that kind of changed things real quick,” Washington manager Dave Martinez said.
The homer was the first earned run allowed by Miller in nine appearances this season.
”I was trying to throw a fastball away and it just kind of cut on me [url=http://www.indianapoliscoltsteamonline.com/anthony-walker-jersey]Anthony Walker Jersey[/url] ,” Miller said. ”Hats off to him, he hit a good pitch.”
Aaron Sanchez allowed three runs and six hits in six innings for Toronto.
The Blue Jays have hit an ML-leading six home runs on 3-0 counts this season. No other team had more than two entering play Friday.
FIRST OF THE SEASON
Washington’s Daniel Murphy singled in the eighth, snapping a 0-for-10 stretch since he returned from right knee surgery Tuesday.
Nationals: 1B Matt Adams took a pitch off his left hand while squaring to bunt in the second. Mark Reynolds replaced Adams on defense an inning later. ”I knew from the get-go it was bad,” Adams said. He is day to day. Murphy will DH against the Blue Jays this weekend and return to the infield Monday when Washington returns home to face the Yankees.
Blue Jays: One week after he became eligible to be activated off the disabled list, 3B Josh Donaldson (left calf) has yet to run at full speed. Donaldson may play at least one minor league rehab game with Triple-A Buffalo before rejoining the Blue Jays. … RHP Marcus Stroman (shoulder) will make a second rehab start Monday, this time at Double-A New Hampshire. Stroman pitched 4 1/3 innings at Class-A Dunedin Wednesday. … OF Steve Pearce (oblique) will begin a rehab assignment at Buffalo Saturday. Pearce has not played since May 3. … RHP Deck McGuire was claimed off waivers by the Texas Rangers.
Nationals RHP Max Scherzer (10-2, 2.00) faces Blue Jays RHP Marco Estrads (3-6, 5.09). Scherzer is 4-1 with a 2.15 ERA in eight career starts against Toronto. His June 10 loss against San Francisco snapped a streak of nine straight winning decisions. Estrada beat Baltimore on June 10, ending an eight-start winless stretch.
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