Thursday, April 24, 2014
By Dave Skretta / The Associated Press
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Alex Smith is still winning in red. He's just doing it for the Chiefs these days.
Alex Smith realized from midseason last year that he would be leaving San Francisco and looking for a new home. When the chance came to head to Kansas City, he jumped at it.
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Mike Wallace, left, wasn’t happy that he caught just one pass in the Miami Dolphins’ opener. So he came back Sunday to tie a career best with nine catches against Indianapolis.
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Mike Wallace is finally happy in Miami, Anquan Boldin is making everyone happy in San Francisco, and that's just the start of the players in new places making a splash this season.
Wes Welker went from hauling in passes from Tom Brady in New England to doing the same from Peyton Manning in Denver -- how'd he get so lucky? Steven Jackson's legs are churning in Atlanta despite a Game 2 injury, Darrelle Revis is defending passes in Tampa Bay and Elvis Dumervil is putting heat on quarterbacks for Baltimore after a bizarre end to his time with the Broncos.
"I feel amazing," said Dumervil, who actually agreed to a restructured contract to remain in the AFC West, only for the paperwork to arrive late at the league office. Denver was forced to release Dumervil to avoid having the $12 million he was set to make this season become guaranteed.
Dumervil still considered staying in Denver but ultimately signed with the Ravens.
"It's always nice to get a guy in there who can bring new ideas to you and new ways of doing things, and Elvis has certainly done that," Baltimore Coach John Harbaugh said. "He's latched on with the things we're doing and it's been a great mesh."
It's been a happy marriage for other high-profile players, too.
After Smith was benched in favor of Colin Kaepernick during San Francisco's NFC championship run last year, he began looking elsewhere to play this season. The 49ers worked a trade in February to send him to Kansas City, and now Smith is running the offense for new coach Andy Reid.
He's doing it well, too. Smith has thrown four touchdown passes without an interception in beating Jacksonville and Dallas, matching the Chiefs' entire win total from last season.
"From about midseason last year I was thinking about where my next opportunity was potentially going to come," Smith said, "and when this presented itself, I jumped at it."
He wasn't alone in jumping on the Chiefs' bandwagon.
Reid climbed aboard after 14 seasons leading the Eagles, and veteran defensive backs Sean Smith and Dunta Robinson were signed in free agency. Together they've helped turn around a franchise seeking its second 3-0 start in a decade.
"The one neat thing about the business is everybody has a personality," Reid said of his team, more than half of which is new this year. "That's the way it is in life. So if you're going to get that full player, they need to express themselves, I think. That's what we do."
Wallace has had no qualms expressing himself in Miami.
The former Steelers receiver was miffed he caught only one pass in the opener, but then matched a career high with nine catches against the Colts on Sunday. He was acquired to give Miami a badly needed deep threat and has helped the Dolphins to a 2-0 start.
"He's a guy that's really intellectual when it comes to football," fellow receiver Brian Hartline said. "Probably doesn't get a whole lot of credit for it, but he really understands the game, wants to learn more about the game and like I said, has a rare skill set."
Sounds like many of the same qualities Boldin has brought to San Francisco.
The 49ers acquired him from the Ravens for a sixth-round pick, and he's helped them overcome the loss of Michael Crabtree to a torn Achilles tendon. Boldin was shut down last week by Seattle, but had 13 catches for 208 yards and a touchdown in a Week 1 win over the Packers.
"It's my job to catch the ball. And anytime (Kaepernick) throws the ball my way, I'm going to make sure to catch it," Boldin said. "For me, it's a business. I come out to do my job."
Wallace and Boldin weren't the only high-profile receivers who found new digs. Welker spent six seasons in New England before signing with Denver.
Strange as it is to see Welker in a new uniform, it may be stranger to see Jackson wearing Falcons threads. The running back had eight straight 1,000-yard seasons for the Rams.
"He adds an incredible amount of leadership to this football team," Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff said, "and his combination of on- and off-the-field abilities and passion for this game is right in line with how we feel we have built this football team the last few years. In our minds we couldn't have a more ideal fit right now."