Tony Moeaki, back from injury, will be key for Chiefs


As we count down the days to training camp, Around the League will examine one player from every team set for a breakout campaign in 2012. Up next: the Kansas City Chiefs.

Tony Moeaki will give Chiefs a new dimension

Making the Leap

Around the League will pick from each NFL team one player who's poised for a breakout season in 2012:

AFC East
Bills | Dolphins | Jets | Patriots
AFC North
Bengals | Browns | Ravens | Steelers
AFC South
Colts | Jaguars | Texans | Titans
AFC West
Broncos | Chargers | Chiefs | Raiders
NFC East
Cowboys | Eagles | Giants | Redskins
NFC North
Bears | Lions | Packers | Vikings
NFC South
Buccaneers | Falcons | Panthers | Saints
NFC West
49ers | Cardinals | Rams | Seahawks

Every team has to deal with injuries -- and thus, really shouldn't complain -- but an exception could be made for the Chiefs in 2011.

Tight end Tony Moeaki, safety Eric Berry and running back Jamaal Charles were all lost over the course of two weeks in September, three impact players wiped off the grid with the season still in its embryonic stage.

Berry and Charles had already established themselves as stars in 2010, and Moeaki appeared to have that potential before ripping up his knee in Kansas City's final preseason game. He caught 47 passes for 556 yards and three touchdowns as a rookie, combining sure hands with an ability to stretch defenses.

Fully cleared for training camp, Moeaki will get another crack at becoming Kansas City's first elite tight end since Tony Gonzalez left town. General manager Scott Pioli's Patriots ties were on display again in the offseason, when he signed Kevin Boss to play alongside Moeaki in two-tight end formations.

Though it's unlikely the pair will evoke comparisons to Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, Moeaki and Boss -- a strong veteran talent underutilized last year in Oakland -- will allow Matt Cassel to make the type of throws that best suit his game.

But make no mistake: Moeaki has the highest ceiling and will be the tight end the Chiefs count on to make the leap to a Pro Bowl-level this season. When you factor in Boss, the return of Charles and Dwayne Bowe on the outside, everything is in place for Moeaki to give defenses fits in the middle of the field.