Patrick Mahomes' Injury Puts Rookie Backup QB Kyle Shurmur in Spotlight

Matt Derrick

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Kyle Shurmur spent four seasons as a quarterback in the SEC, so he's used to drawing attention. But it's not often that a crowd gathers around the locker of an NFL team's No. 3 quarterback, except in extraordinary situations.

That's exactly Shurmur finds himself this week, however. With will-he or won't-he questions swirling around the status of Patrick Mahomes and his injured right knee and journeyman backup Matt Moore prepping for his first potential start with the Chiefs, a fair share of attention settles on Shurmur, thrust from the practice squad to perhaps a heartbeat away from leading an NFL team into battle.

And he's already answering questions about his promotion like a seasoned pro.

“We have a next man up mentality,” Shurmur said. “So unfortunately what happened to Pat happened, but at the same time we got next man up. I'm just going to try and help Matt do everything to help Matt so he can help us win a game and then be ready God forbid if anything happens.”

Shurmur would never compare himself to Mahomes: “Pat's special, we all know that. Me and Matt, were different players for sure than Pat.” But he does share one striking similarity with the MVP quarterback.

Mahomes grew up the son of a Major League Baseball pitcher and as a kid followed his father around big-league clubhouses. Shurmur also grew up around professional sports with a father in the professional ranks. His father Pat is the current head coach of the New York Giants and a former head coach of the Cleveland Browns. The elder Shurmur has coached in the NFL ranks since 1999.

Kyle wasn't quite 3 years old when his dad left the Stanford coaching staff to join a new staff assembled by incoming Eagles head coach Andy Reid. Pat spent 10 seasons working with Reid in Philadelphia coaching tight ends, offensive line and quarterbacks. The younger Shurmur served as a ball boy during Eagles' training camp at Lehigh University in those days, connecting with with countless NFL players, including quarterback Donovan McNabb.

“Growing up I got to work the training camp at Lehigh a little bit and St. Louis and Cleveland as well,” Shurmur said at this year's NFL Combine. “I got to meet Donovan, got to throw the ball around with him a little bit growing up. That was a cool experience.”

Growing up around Reid and the Eagles played a factor in Shumur choosing to sign with the Chiefs as an undrafted free agent in May. He relished the opportunity to join what he calls a “top-down winning culture” and study under Reid, quarterbacks coach Mike Kafka and offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy.

“Coach Reid has had a great track record with coaching young quarterbacks and developing young quarterbacks,” Shurmur said during rookie minicamp in May. “I feel as if for me to improve and reach my full potential, I think that working with coach Reid, coach Kafka and coach Bieniemy, all three of them, is going to help me improve and be the best I can be.”

Shumur arrived in Kansas City as the team's fourth quarterback, battling Chase Litton for a position behind Mahomes and backup Chad Henne. Shurmur won the contest completing nearly 58.9 percent of his passes in four preseason games, finishing 33-of-56 for 316 yards two touchdowns with an interception and a passer rating of 79.2.

"I thought he had a good training camp,” Reid said. “Well enough to make the team. He did. Then, he works like crazy at practice.”

That work ethic and high football IQ stands out to Bieniemy as well.

“Kyle's resume speaks for itself,” Bieniemy said. “He's a sharp kid, and he's earned the right to be on our team. He's shown everything, he's demonstrated a will to go out there and be what expected him to be. And then the way he conducts in the classroom and on the field, it just shows you that he is capable, and those are the type of people and players that we want.”

Shurmur has tried to soak in everything that he can through the first seven weeks of the season.

“Every day in practice me and Matt when Pat was in, we were working on scout team, so we got to go against the first defense,” Shurmur said. “Just continue to improve on mechanics and then learn the system. Definitely believe that I have gotten better since then.”

Watching the trio of Mahomes, Moore and Henne and has also helped further his quarterback education.

“The veteran presence has been huge,” Shurmur said. “They've certainly given me a lot so that I can learn, and they've been great, they've been supportive. I try to help them every time they're out there too.”

This week is different, however. As a scout team quarterback, Shurmur needs to know as much about the opponent's offense as his own. Now he needs to understand the game plan just as much as Mahomes and Moore do, if the understudy has to go on the big stage Sunday night against the Green Bay Packers.

“I think as you go through OTAs, camp, preseason and then now the season, you accumulate a lot of knowledge of the system and how coach calls a game, what they're trying to attack and certain things like that,” Shurmur said. “I think just time and repetition within the system you gain an understanding of the system overall and just how things roll.”

If the Chiefs need him, Reid believes in the young man who once chased down footballs for him at training camp.

“Now, the one thing that we don't have is NFL reps during a game, but what he showed us is that he is a good young quarterback that has a future,” Reid said. “We felt comfortable bringing him up."

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