What is Kansas City Chiefs’ plan for their rugby star? Here’s what Andy Reid says

Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid has an initial plan with recently signed Louis Rees-Zammit.

For now, that involves the former professional rugby player starting the season as a running back to “get him to feel comfortable with that.”

“He’ll get used to some of these (offensive) calls — through our Zooms — and the plays,” Reid said this week, “and then we’ll just see where it goes from there.”

The 23-year-old Rees-Zammit, listed at 6 foot 3 and 194 pounds on the Chiefs’ roster, announced earlier this year he’d be quitting rugby to pursue an NFL career. Originally from Wales, Rees-Zammit was drawn to football at a young age when his father, Joe, played American football on a team in Europe.

Earlier this year, Rees-Zammit trained in Florida for two months with other NFL hopefuls through the league’s International Player Pathway (IPP) program. During a Pro Day, he ran a 4.44-second 40-yard dash.

Reid was quick to point out that rugby and American football have some similarities as contact sports that often involve running and pitching the ball.

“That’s not an easy transition, but he seems to be wired, playing competitive rugby professionally since he was 17 years old,” Reid said. “So he’s sitting there at 23. He’s had a pretty good career with that, and understands the professional game and the mindset to play at a professional level.”

The NFL’s new kickoff rule could help Rees-Zammit’s roster hopes as a potential special-teamer; touchbacks will return to the 30-yard line, meaning kickoff returns will likely be a more prominent part of the game.

When asked if Rees-Zammit might figure in as a returner with special teams coach Dave Toub, Reid said, “Potentially.”

“We’re just going to see how it goes here,” Reid said. “You know how Dave puts them all out there. They’re all out there working on return, before and during practice. We’ll just see where his feel is and where that goes.”

Rees-Zammit recently traveled to Texas to work out with Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and some other KC players.

Chiefs linebacker Nick Bolton said he’d be interested to see how quickly Rees-Zammit adapts to his new sport.

“It’s a little bit different for him, from a learning curve, trying to learn the rules and adjust on the fly. A lot of us have been playing this game for 15-plus years underneath these rules,” Bolton said. “So I think that’s definitely going to be something different for him, but I know he’s excited, and we’re excited as well.”

Rees-Zammit could have extra opportunity with the Chiefs thanks to NFL rules. Teams with IPP players are allowed an additional practice squad spot and a training camp roster exemption.

“Any person that’s able to help us win,” Bolton said, “we’re open arms.”