Rick Stanzi Remains a Workaholic in Chiefs' Quarterback Competition
By Scott Dochterman, Reporter
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. Rick Stanzi's reputation as a workaholic transferred from his playing days at Iowa to his professional era in Kansas City.
Nobody stayed on the field later than Stanzi after a grueling 3-hour Tuesday morning practice. He was the last to leave, then stayed late signing autographs for fans before he was whisked away by the Chiefs media relations personnel for film work.
Stanzi repeated the same process Tuesday afternoon. He got in a few more dozen throws after the walkthrough then signed a handful of autographs for fans at Missouri Western State University.
"It's been a fun transition to finally be here with the team and the coaching staff and to get acclimated to how things run around here," Stanzi said. "It's been a blast."
Stanzi, a fifth-round draft pick, wasn't able to learn Kansas City's complete offensive scheme in the offseason. The NFL lockout prevented him from having contact with coaches or team officials, and he had no one to help him with the playbook. Well, almost no one.
Second-year Chiefs tight end Tony Moeaki a former Iowa player met with Stanzi frequently in the offseason and even talked about potentially playing together in Kansas City. It became reality in April.
"We've been friends for a long time," Moeaki said. "We always joked around about it being a possibility, and then it was kind of funny when it happened. I talked to him shortly after he got picked, and we just kind of laughed about it. It's good to have him here.
"I tried to help him in the offseason with what we did last year as much as I could. We just went over some basics that I hoped helped him have a quicker start with the lockout. There's no OTAs or mini-camp, so I'd tried to help out in any way I could."
Stanzi has tried to pick up the offense quickly since training started in late July. Like most rookie quarterbacks he's had his share of solid moments and erratic play. Picking up the pro terminology and applying it to the field has been a whirlwind process.
"At first it definitely seemed like a lot," Stanzi said. "Once you start to get familiar with the terms and you go out there and you practice the reps, it feels more comfortable. Then each practice you can see yourself progressing and you start to feel a little bit more comfortable and relaxed back there. The game slows down a little bit for you."
Stanzi is competing with Tyler Palko for Kansas City's back-up role behind Matt Cassel. Chiefs Coach Todd Haley said both back-ups are progressing and will get plenty of playing time this preseason.
"Obviously, Ricky, a first-year player, he needs to be developing and developing at a good rate, which he is to this point," Haley said. "I'm encouraged. That being said, like all positions, if there's somebody there that we think improves competition, puts us in a better chance to succeed, or gives us a better chance to win, then we obviously are open to that at all spots.
"(Stanzi is) a young, smart guy that is big, strong, good arm, athletic, he looks like to me. Now we've just got to coach the heck out of him. He's willing and able so I'm encouraged with where he is and really all the quarterbacks for this matter at this stage."
Much of Stanzi's work in training camp is situational. The Chiefs apply down and distance differently throughout the practice to provide the quarterbacks with a blueprint for possible game situations.
"Coach Haley does a great job of explaining the situations and really making sure everybody knows what to do," Stanzi said. "From there as a player you're making sure in the book and understanding what situations can happen in the football game and how we like to handle it, then actually going out there and practicing them and seeing them on film. It's been a great learning tool for all of us young guys getting in the league."
Stanzi was a three-year starter at Iowa and led the Hawkeyes to three bowl victories in his career. He threw touchdown passes in 21 consecutive games and finished 26-9 as a starter.
"Rick's done a good job," said Chiefs center Casey Wiegmann, a former Iowa player and 16-year NFL veteran. "Just what he did at Iowa. He led the team to a bunch of wins and did a great job there. He's come in and picked everything up. He'll be fine."