Three months ago, the K.C. Chiefs added Daurice Fountain, a little-known wide receiver on a one-year deal after he looked good as a veteran during a tryout at rookie minicamp. It was a blip on the offseason radar, a shrug of the shoulders at the transaction wire even in a slow news period.
On the verge of regular season roster cuts, Fountain is now looming as a serious dark horse to make the team and upset the expected pecking order. It’s the sort of heartening story we see two to three times every preseason as the competition brings out the unexpected best in some players and it’s enough to make believers of the Chiefs coaching staff.
Can Fountain make the leap? Or is he a good training camp story? No one is quite sure at this point, but there is still one more game to go: the Chiefs preseason closer against the Minnesota Vikings on Friday at Arrowhead Stadium. There, Fountain will have another exhibition in which he can put on his best Dwayne Bowe impersonation as a physical wideout—the sort of pass catcher the Chiefs have been lacking this offseason.
Daurice Fountain posted his wish on Twitter that he wants “one full year”.
While every player is obviously focused on making the team, Fountain made it even clearer to those who follow his Twitter feed on Tuesday evening..
To date, Fountain hasn’t put it all together despite having previous offseasons to turn the head of a familiar face in Chris Ballard. The Indianapolis Colts drafted Fountain in the fifth round of the 2018 NFL Draft and he made the practice squad that year. In 2019, Fountain was shelved with an ankle injury that kept him out all season, and last year, he returned to the sort of roller coaster that happens for players shuffled between the PS and the active roster.
The upside of Fountain’s history is that a talent evaluator like Ballard liked Fountain enough to secure his services as a prospect from Northern Iowa. He also was able to impress the Colts enough to stick around for three years. The downside to Fountain’s history is that the Colts weren’t exactly loaded at wide receiver during his tenure with the team and often dealt with injuries to T.Y. Hilton, Parris Campbell, Michael Pittman Jr., etc.
To his credit, Fountain has looked the part of a reliable contributor for the Chiefs this summer. He looked solid in training camp and turned it on in preseason games. He led the Chiefs in total receiving yards in the team’s opener against the San Francisco 49ers and was second behind Byron Pringle in the most recent win over the Arizona Cardinals.
At this stage, Fountain has done just about all he can in the grind of training camp to stand out among his peers. He’s done it in practice and again under the lights. He’s also earning notice from the Chiefs coaching staff.
Does this equal a spot on the 53-man roster? Remember that saying yes to Fountain means likely saying no to someone like Marcus Kemp or Cornell Powell. Do the Chiefs rely on a month of practice or go with the long-term play—either evidence of what they know they have from years past in a familiar face or what the scouts said about a draft pick they were excited about?
These are all intriguing questions that will be answered in less than a week. For Fountain, it’s the chance to make a wish come true. The Chiefs can certainly do that, and if so, it won’t be because they are feeling bad for Fountain. It’s because he will have earned it with hard work all summer long.