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An Unexpected Target


Pardon Kevin Cone if he acts like a real receiver in his pro days. He hasn't had much of a chance to previous to this.

The undrafted rookie from Georgia Tech was denoted as a wide receiver in college with the Yellow Jackets and also with Shorter before that, but Cone might as well have been referred to as a glorified lineman.

Every team Cone has been a part of — even in high school — has run the triple option. Every single one.

For anyone who's not familiar, passing is to the triple-option what running is to large men. It doesn't happen all that often, and when it does, it's usually underwhelming.

If you're a receiver in a triple-option offense, you better know how to block, and you better have a skill outside of football, because that path doesn't often lead to the NFL.

To hammer home this point, during his senior season at Georgia Tech, Cone can remember the exact number of catches he had.

He barely needs both hands to count them all.

That number has nothing to do with Cone's abilities or playing time. Heck, he's probably lucky he was thrown to six times in an offense that moves down the field almost solely based on what can be done with legs and not hands.

So, it's a little strange for Cone, who was signed a week into training camp, to now be in an offense that can actually find him with the ball flying toward him through the air instead of tucked under the arm of a running back on the ground.

"This is completely different," he said. "I've never been in an offense like this, even when I was in high school or at Shorter, it was an offense just like Georgia Tech with the triple-option, so to be an actual receiver running routes is fun."

What's perhaps most impressive is that, despite spending most of his football career pushing opponents around instead of making plays on them, Cone has become quite the target during practices and the preseason.

Cone caught one pass for 14 yards against Miami during the first week of the preseason, but he's been awfully impressive around Flowery Branch, making some nice catches and giving good looks to the defensive backs.

"I try to work on the hands," Cone said. "It's an important part of being a receiver. That's something I definitely need to work on, and I try to catch some balls after practice every now and then. ... I take pride in (run blocking). I really enjoy doing it, but you've got to be able to run routes and catch balls here, so that's what I'm trying to do, as well."

Perhaps better than anyone would have expected.

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