There's been nonstop talk about how much special teams performance may factor into the Kansas City Chiefs' decision to potentially keep wide receiver Marcus Kemp on the roster. Now, there are multiple reasons why he should avoid roster cuts.
In the Chiefs' 28-25 victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Friday, Kemp was everywhere. Not only did he make a pair of impressive special teams plays, but he also hauled in a trio of passes for 41 yards and a touchdown. His 23-yard score was on the receiving end of a beautiful Shane Buchele pass and helped temporarily distance the Chiefs from the Vikings. After the game, Kemp spoke about his journey through the NFL thus far and why playing in Kansas City is so special.
"When I first entered the league, I knew that was probably my best chance at staying on a team, being an undrafted rookie," Kemp said. "So I kind of took that mindset every year. This is my fifth year now but I still come in like I'm an undrafted rookie, where that's my best chance to make the team and that's how I'm going to help. As far as the receiver development, when you're around guys like Tyreek (Hill), Travis (Kelce) and D-Rob (Demarcus Robinson) and all of the pass catchers, you kind of have no choice but to get better."
It's safe to say that Kemp has managed to get better in multiple facets of the game. He's an ace for special teams coach Dave Toub and emerged as a legitimate receiving option this preseason. While his rapport with quarterback Patrick Mahomes wasn't tested, he stood out with backup quarterbacks throwing to him. When his name was called, he answered.
Kemp understands the nature of the business that is the NFL. Teams have a finite amount of spots available on their rosters, and good players often find themselves on the outside looking in. Kemp has been there before, and being an unselfish teammate is another area in which he's aimed for constant improvement over time.
"The older guys, when I first came in, kind of showed me what a vet should do for those young guys and how to help because we all want everybody to succeed," Kemp said. "I know we're all competing for these five or six jobs on this team, but I want to see them do well — whether it's here or somewhere else. So, as much as I can help them get better and hopefully stick here or somewhere else, then I want to do that as well."
Projecting the Chiefs' wide receiver depth chart has been a difficult task throughout the offseason and into the preseason. With that said, the quartet of Tyreek Hill, Mecole Hardman, Byron Pringle and Demarcus Robinson is the safest group to outline (not necessarily in that order at spots three and four). All four players are experienced in Andy Reid's system and are familiar faces for Mahomes.
Behind the aforementioned four wideouts, Kemp was viewed by many to be competing with Daurice Fountain and rookie Cornell Powell for either a fifth or sixth receiver spot. Was his performance on Friday enough to secure him a seat at the table? It very well could have been.
This isn't Kemp's first rodeo — he's been through all of this in the past. If he doesn't make the final roster, he'll bring value as a practice squad candidate either for the Chiefs or on another team. It's possible, though, that this is the year where he sets himself apart. Football is a game of timing, and it Kemp's appears to be impeccable. It remains to be seen whether the Chiefs agree.