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Tribal Warfare
08-11-2011, 06:53 AM
Receiver Jerheme Urban aims to rebound from injury (http://www.kansascity.com/2011/08/10/3069746/urban-revival-chiefs-receiver.html)
By RANDY COVITZ
The Kansas City Star

ST. JOSEPH | Jerheme Urban seems to be the overlooked wide receiver in the Chiefs offense.

The Chiefs pulled a mild surprise when they took Jonathan Baldwin in the first round of the 2011 draft. And they created a buzz with the signing of unrestricted free agent Steve Breaston from Arizona.

But guess who is expected to start opposite Dwayne Bowe in Friday night’s preseason opener against Tampa Bay?

It will be Jerheme (pronounced Jeremy) Urban, a guy who has not caught one ball or taken one snap with the Chiefs.

Urban, 30, signed with the Chiefs in 2010 after spending three seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, including 2007-08 — when Todd Haley was the Cardinals’ offensive coordinator. But Urban suffered a break in his hand in the preseason finale last year and spent the entire 2010 season on injured reserve.

So as the Chiefs began fortifying their wide-receiver corps for this season, the acquisitions overshadowed the presence of Urban, who caught 74 passes for 963 yards and six touchdowns in three seasons at Arizona, plus nine catches in the postseason, including one for 18 yards in Super Bowl XLIII.

“I’m always kind of the forgotten guy,” said Urban, a seven-year NFL veteran who played at Trinity University in Texas.

“I feel like at times, it’s probably been a good thing, and sometimes it hinders me, because I feel like I have to be perfect all the time, being undrafted, from Division III, and all that … but I’m getting to the point where hey, I’ve been around for a while, and I can do what I can do and make the plays when given the opportunity.”

Haley expects Urban, a 6-foot-3, 207-pounder with speed, to get plenty of opportunities with the Chiefs this season.

“He’s a big strong guy who understands his role, whatever that is,” Haley said. “If we’re running the ball, he’s going to be one of our better blockers. If we’re throwing the ball, he gives us another vertical threat.”

At Arizona, Urban was labeled as a possession receiver because the Cardinals, with Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and Breaston on the outside, used Urban mostly as a slot receiver.

But Urban, who was also an outstanding track athlete in college, has been lining up outside with the Chiefs and provides a big target in the red zone as well as a receiver who can stretch the field.

“He can run,” Haley said. “And he’s been excellent from a leadership standpoint. He’s a guy each and every year I’ve seen improvement. Last year was disappointing for him and for us because he had worked so hard and had an injury that didn’t allow him to continue. But he helped us coach out there and was actively involved. … He’s been champing at the bit …”

The acquisitions of Baldwin and Breaston — his former roommate of a year at Arizona — didn’t intimidate Urban.

“Every year there’s competition,” said Urban, who spent 2004 and ’05 in Seattle and ’06 on Dallas’ practice squad — when Haley was the Cowboys’ receivers coach — before going to Arizona. “As an athlete, as a competitor, you welcome that competition, but the main thing for me is to compete against myself … compete and do the best I can do. You can’t get caught up in numbers.

“I’m trying to be consistent every day. I don’t want to be what one of my coaches in the past termed, ‘a flash player.’ You show up one day and make a big flash, and the next day you’re gone for a couple of practices. I’m a great example from last year of the unforeseen happening … so I’m going to seize this … it’s an opportunity to play and hopefully I can stay healthy and help the team this year.”

Even though he didn’t play last season, Urban played a role on the practice field and in the meeting room working with the Chiefs younger receivers, notably Terrance Copper and Verran Tucker.

“I was very thankful coach Haley kept me in the building, allowed me to continue to go to meetings and be a part of things,” Urban said. “I was able to watch film and stick around and hear the verbiage every single day, be out on the practice field, encouraging guys, helping some of the young guys with some of the stuff I learned over the years.

“That helped 2010 go a little quicker for me.”

Urban also utilized his time on injured reserve preparing for his post-football career occupation as a coach.

“I have aspirations to coach when I’m done, and coach Haley knows that from our history together and just talking about the future,” Urban said. “He allowed me sit back and observe from a different side of things.

“I’m still a player, and I hope to play this game for as long as the Lord lets me, but at the same time, (Haley) gave me a chance to look at it from a different perspective last year, and even though I wasn’t competing with the guys, the fact I was a mentor for some young guys and helping some of the older guys as well, I felt I was part of it.”

Urban, who caught a school-record 40 career touchdowns at Trinity, including 19 as a senior in 2002, often returns to his alma mater during the offseason, and along with his wife, Emily, a former track athlete at the school, works with the football and track teams.

“I have a passion for the Division III level and the Division III athletes,” said Urban, whose brother, Caleb, was a wide receiver on the 2007 Trinity team that became a YouTube sensation after turning 15 laterals into a game-winning play as time expired against Millsaps (Miss.) College.

“So if it worked out for me to go back and do something at my alma mater, that would be great, too.”

In fact, Urban might have gotten a head start in his preparations for the 2011 season by working with the Trinity team during the NFL lockout.

“I was helping them, putting them through drills, and I was coaching,” Urban said, “but we got into the summer work, and we all pushed each other.”

Friday’s game
Chiefs vs. Tampa Bay, 7 p.m. at Arrowhead Stadium (Ch. 4)

Next open practice
3 p.m. Sunday in St. Joseph.