Steve Maneri will suit up in his natural position for the first time as a pro in 2012.
After making the Kansas City Chiefs' final roster cut on Friday, the 24-year-old Saddle Brook High School grad will open the NFL season at the position he played in both high school and college -- tight end.
Maneri, who bounced around the league the past two seasons as an offensive lineman, jumped at the opportunity to slim down this offseason and compete for a tight end job with the Chiefs.
"He was all for it," said his father, . "He lost about 40 pounds."
The 6-foot-6-inch Maneri, who dropped from 305 pounds to 270 pounds, had a much easier time taking the weight off than he previously had putting it on.
“I just started eating like a normal person again and the weight came right off,” Maneri, who had been gorging himself on Applebee's 2 for $20 specials to maintain a 300-pound frame, told the Kansas City Chiefs website. "I'm naturally a thinner type of person."
Maneri actually made his first, and so far only, NFL reception with the Chiefs last year when he was still a left tackle. Last November, while lined up as an eligible receiver in a Sunday night game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Maneri caught a 1-yard toss from quarterback Tyler Palko before being tackled by Steelers' safety Troy Polamalu. Polamalu's head went into Maneri's knee on the tackle, leaving the future Hall of Famer with a concussion that forced him to exit the game.
"My leg was much bigger then," said Maneri, who believes he has the hands to be a pass-catching tight end in the league -- he caught four passes for 85 yards this preseason -- but accepts that won't be his primary role with the Chiefs.
“Let it be clear that I’m here to block,” he told the Kansas City Chiefs website. “I’m a blocking tight end and that’s what I’m here to do.”
Maneri's father, Anthony, a 15-year fantasy football veteran, said he was excited this year to finally have his son as an available fantasy league option (offensive lineman aren't eligible in traditional fantasy football leagues).
"I had to call RTsports, the website my league uses, to get them to put [Steve's] name in," Anthony said. "And yes, I chose my son for my Fantasy team. That was pretty cool. We all had a drink to celebrate."
The Chiefs open their season at home Sunday against Atlanta.