The primary questions being asked at the Kansas City Chiefs training camp over the last two weeks have centered on one of two subjects: the return of the "ACL crew" from injury rehab (Eric Berry, Jamaal Charles, Tony Moeaki) and the holdout of wide receiver Dwayne Bowe. But now that Bowe has officially signed his franchise tender on the eve of the end of training camp in St. Joseph, the questions have not stopped. Instead it seems that Bowe getting into camp was only the first step of many.
This season the Chiefs have a brand new offense installed with Brian Daboll at the helm. With a new head coach, offensive scheme and playbook and a change in personnel all around, KC-area media have made a lot of noise about the need of Bowe to get into camp and acclimate himself to game-ready physical conditions as well as the changes in the offense and the roster.
These reports are right; Bowe does face significant work ahead for the 2012 season. ESPN's Bill Williamson puts it well when he describes the work ahead for the LSU product.
"By reporting now he ensured he can be ready to help this team make a serious playoff push when the Chiefs open the season by hosting Atlanta on Sept. 9," writes Williamson. "Bowe has to accomplish two things in the next 23 days: He needs to get into football shape and he needs to get acclimated to new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll's system."
Yet let's not lose sight of the bigger picture here: Bowe has significant experience playing for the Chiefs at the highest of levels. The team has never had a wide receiver like him until now, and Bowe will likely end his career among the team leaders in nearly ever receiving category for the team alongside Tony Gonzalez if they can make amends on all sides. In short, Bowe's ability is enough to make him an offensive asset from the moment he steps on the field.
Bowe has nearly 350 catches and 5,000 yards through his first five seasons in the NFL. He knows what it takes to impact the field, so a change in terminology is not going to overwhelm him. Consider this: anyone making a big deal about the shift to Brian Daboll forgets that Bowe already played under a new offense every year of his career under Mike Solari, Chan Gailey, Todd Haley, Charlie Weis and Bill Muir. Screaming that the sky is falling about yet another offensive change for Bowe is overreacting.
To panic (or even worry at all) about Bowe is to lose sight of the bigger picture: Bowe is a Pro Bowl wide receiver in a contract situation at the age of 27. There's one great payday ahead for Bowe in the NFL. If there's any pressure in play for Bowe, it's about making sure that he performs as well as he can without any off-the-field issues to allow the open market to work in his favor. Brandon Carr pocketed $50 million this offseason. Bowe will be the prize of all offensive weapons if he can make it there.
For now there's no way of knowing what the long-term plans for Bowe and the Chiefs will be, but one thing should be clear at this point. Bowe will be the same impact receiver for the Chiefs the moment he steps onto the field. Anyone worried about conditioning, terminology or any sort of changes is losing sight of the bigger picture of both Bowe's past and future.