Chiefs feel Hudson ready to step up at center
By RANDY COVITZ
The Kansas City Star
By RANDY COVITZ The Kansas City Star
MIKE RANSDELL | The Kansas City Star
Rodney Hudson will be in the middle of the action as the Chiefs' starting center this season.
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The nameplate, 62 CASEY WIEGMANN, still adorns a corner locker in the Chiefs dressing room, a practice uniform still neatly folded over a hanger.
But Wiegmann, the Chiefs’ center for nine of the last 11 seasons, has quietly and unofficially retired. Wiegmann finished his career making 11,162 consecutive snaps — the longest streak by any NFL offensive lineman — covering 175 consecutive starts.
His successor, second-year man Rodney Hudson, who occupies the neighboring locker, has never snapped from center in an NFL game.
Yet, the Chiefs are convinced that Hudson can step into the shoes of Wiegmann, who not only blocked, pulled and trapped in the trenches, but made the line calls for his teammates.
“That’s part of this offseason program, that’s our job to coach him to recognize the fronts, make the IDs, and then to be able to block the correct guy and do it at an efficient level,” coach Romeo Crennel said during last week’s minicamp.
“During this offseason program, he’s taken to it. He’s taken control and command, and he’s making the proper calls in practice. Physically, he’ll be able to make the blocks and pass protect the way we need him to. I’m encouraged by what I see. When we get to training camp, we’ll find out with the pads.”
From the moment Hudson — a 6-2, 299 pounder — was drafted in the second round from Florida State in 2011, it was apparent he would be groomed to fill the spot of either Wiegmann or guard Brian Waters, who was released last summer.
Jon Asamoah, in his second year, took over for Waters, giving Hudson a year’s apprenticeship behind Wiegmann.
“I learned a lot from Casey, a lot of football,” Hudson said, “what to look for, presnap, off the field, how to watch film, what to look for, what gives you keys what the defense is doing. He was very knowledgeable about the game, and it was definitely helping learn from him.”
Hudson also had to learn a whole new position. A starting left guard for four seasons at Florida State, he shifted to center for one game as a sophomore. Hudson earned all-Atlantic Coast Conference honors three times for his play at left guard.
Hudson appeared in all 16 games last year on special teams, but his only start with the Chiefs came at left guard when he replaced an injured Ryan Lilja in the 13-9 loss to Pittsburgh on Nov. 27.
So now, he’s making the adjustment from having to start every play by cleanly snapping a football before taking on a 320-pound nose tackle in front of him.
“You would never know it,” Asamoah said of Hudson’s inexperience as a center. “It shocked me because he seems so natural at it. He spent last year watching and picking Casey’s brain, and he’s picked up a lot of things. He’s amazed me how quickly he’s picked everything up from the second he got here last year.”
If Hudson has anything in common with Wiegmann, it’s durability. Just as Wiegmann never came out of the lineup, Hudson made 48 consecutive starts at Florida State, where he was a unanimous All-American.
“There’s no trick to it,” Hudson said of avoiding injuries. “You stay healthy in the weight room, keeping your shoulders strong, working on things in the offseason to get you to last the whole season.”
Compounding Hudson’s adjustment to a new position is the fact he and his teammates are learning a new offense being installed by new coordinator Brian Daboll.
“There are a lot new things being thrown at him, and for a second-year player who hasn’t started in this league, he’s done a great job,” quarterback Matt Cassel said of his new battery mate.“Casey Wiegmann had an unbelievable career, was a staple for us these last few years and a guy with tremendous experience, and Rodney learned a lot from Casey. It was a great year for him to be able to learn from such a professional like Casey.”
To reach Randy Covitz, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org
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Posted on Mon, Jun. 18, 2012 06:44 PM
we keep hearing exactly what we hope to here, i sure hope it's not to good to be true.
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