Donald Stephenson, offensive tackle for the Kansas City Chiefs, is a quiet hometown kid. He was born and raised in the inner city of KC before moving to Blue Springs, MO his senior season of high school.
After a short stint with the Wildcats, Stephenson signed his letter of intent with the Oklahoma Sooners in the late spring of 2007. He spent five seasons in Norman where he started a total of 31 games for the Sooners.
In 2012, the Chiefs drafted him in the third round and he’s been a very reliable offensive lineman in his first two seasons. Donald was active for all 16 games last season, but only had seven starts.
As of now, he’s the projected starter at right tackle, though he’s been taking all the snaps at left with the first team while Eric Fisher continues his rehabilitation.
Donald was nice enough to spend some time speaking with me in a one-on-one interview for KC Kingdom.
A: “The biggest difference is probably the comfort level. I knew the offense last season but I wasn’t fully comfortable with everything until the last six games or so. That’s when it really came on. This year, I’m completely comfortable, I understand what they want and expect from me and its all about getting the reps and putting in the work.”
Q: What was it like working with Offensive line guru, LeCharles Bentley, and how will his workouts translate to your game this season?
A: “He’s tough man. Focused mostly on my strength and leverage, two things I felt like I needed to really focus on for this season. I reached out to him because of his track record with several Pro-Bowl offensive lineman and the work he did with my former teammate, Geoff Schwartz. Trent Williams, a former teammate of mine from OU plans on doing work with him too so I just thought it would be a good opportunity.”
Q: I gotta know, what’s it like to block for a player like Jamaal Charles?
A: “Easy! I mean it’s fun. I think our O-line compliments his game well with our athleticism. We got guys who can get out on the edge and can move in space, two areas where he excels so it’s fun to watch him do what he’s doing in person and to help be a part of it.”
A: “A lot man! I go back-and-forth from each tackle so I see both of them all the time in practice. The work they do helps to make my job easier on some days. I mean, it’s not every day you face two guys like that in the NFL so having them everyday helps me prepare for guys like Von Miller, Robert Mathis, and other guys like that. Let me put it this way, If I can get plays on Tamba and Justin, then I know I should be able to handle almost anyone in the league.”
Q: You’re projected to be the starting right tackle in 2014, how comfortable have you become on that right side considering you’ve always played left and is there really that much of a difference between the two sides?
A: “It’s definitely gotten a lot easier playing right. Up until those last few games last year, it still kind of felt awkward in my stance and with my kick step. I did some specific work outs this season to focus on strengthening my drop leg so that has helped making it that much easier. They got me at left tackle right now while Fish (Eric Fisher) still recovers but that’s natural to me. Basically, It’s been an easy switch and I’m ready to do whatever to help this team win.”
Q: You’re a KC Kid, this question gets asked all the time but we need to know, where do you feel is the best place to get BBQ?
A: “Gates! I mean it’s tradition. Walking in there to them screaming “May I Help You?” is the sound of home to me. I always get the long end ribs with fries and all the bread they can give me with it. Matter of fact, I might hit them up tonight.”
Donald is under contract through 2015 and if he plays well these next two seasons, he could really up his value to not only the Chiefs, but the entire NFL. Personally, I expect Donald to continue his progression and really turn a corner in year three.
It was awesome to spend this time with him, as he shared some tremendous insight on what it’s like to play for the Kansas City Chiefs and in the NFL in general. He feels that they have a very good team in 2014 and that the fans should be excited and he expects Arrowhead to be extremely loud for every home game.
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