KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Steve Breaston will turn 30 this summer, and that’s the age at which the skills of many wide receivers decline. He is coming off his worst NFL season, one in which he spent plenty of time anchored on the Chiefs bench.
But Breaston said Friday he is so energized by the change at coach from Romeo Crennel to Andy Reid that he can see a bright future for himself with the Chiefs.
“I do,” Breaston said Friday at Central High School, where through his Steve Breaston Foundation he presented a new iPad to each of the 10 winners of an essay-writing contest.
“I’ve never gotten down on myself. It’s a new opportunity, so things can change for me. It’s all up to me and what I do on the field. I feel good about (Reid) being here. My big thing is to just show him my work. I feel like there’s a clean slate right now. I’m looking forward to (offseason practice).”
The Chiefs could certainly use a bounce-back season from Breaston, who had 1,000-plus yards for Arizona in 2008 and as recently as 2011 caught 61 passes with the Chiefs. Their best wide receiver, Dwayne Bowe, is a potential unrestricted free agent, though the Chiefs could re-sign Bowe or otherwise retain him by designating him as their franchise player.
Otherwise, their receiving group is a collection of underachieving players, led by Jon Baldwin and Dexter McCluster. Other than Bowe, Breaston is the most accomplished of the bunch, though last season he practically disappeared.
Breaston played in just 10 games, started only four and caught seven passes, the lowest total of his career.
Reid saw the decline in Breaston’s numbers last season. But Breaston left a lasting impression during a 2008 game between the Cardinals and Eagles, then coached by Reid. Breaston caught six passes and scored a touchdown that day.
“I’m familiar with Steve because we played against him a bunch of times,” Reid said. “I know two years ago he had a good year numbers-wise and this year he was down a bit. We’ll see how things work out for him, but I know that as a slot receiver he was always dynamite against us. That’s a unique skill to have. He had a nice knack for that, but I just didn’t see that much from him last year, didn’t see him in that spot.”
Breaston said he was also puzzled by his lack of participation last season as a slot receiver. The Chiefs mainly used Baldwin and Bowe as the starters and McCluster as the slot receiver, leaving little work for Breaston.
“It was kind of odd,” Breaston said. “I played the slot position my first year here. I didn’t get a down in the slot last year. I can’t explain it. Nobody explained it to me.”
Breaston also had no explanation for his relative lack of playing time overall last season. When the Chiefs used extra receivers, they often turned to young players Jamar Newsome and Devon Wylie instead.
“I still don’t know what happened last year,” Breaston said. “I can’t put a finger on it. Nobody ever said anything to me. I know that one thing I did was work hard every day. My teammates saw me working hard every day. I did what I needed to do.
“But last year was last year. As difficult as last year was, that’s in the past. Now it’s a fresh start and I’m looking forward to that. I’m going to take advantage of that. I’ve already talked with (new receivers coach David) Culley. I got a feel for what they expect. It’s a new opportunity for me.”
Breaston came up with the idea to purchase iPads for inner-city students last year. Initially, he planned to present one new iPad for every 100 of his 2012 receiving yards.
But he had just 74 yards.
“That didn’t work out, but I wanted to do this regardless,” he said. “Kids that work hard deserve to have certain tools to help them boost their creativity. This way, they’re not limited in what they do.
“Hopefully it will make their classes and their lives easier.”