- This team is all business – All the speculation in the offseason of a potential Tyreek Hill suspension and the potential of a Chris Jones hold out was all put to rest when the league chose not to suspend Hill and when Jones reported to camp on the first day. There is a feel of destiny around this team. Every person, from the head coach to the 90th main on the training camp roster seems to be focused on getting to and winning the Super Bowl this season and it shows.
- Patrick Mahomes continues to be incredibly special – Whether it is commanding the offense from the huddle, throwing the ball around in 7 on 7, practicing behind the back and left handed throws for fun during special teams periods, or just coming over and signing a football for a kid after practice; Patrick Mahomes never ceases to amaze me. There’s nothing to criticize about his game, the way he goes about preparing and practicing each day, and every day there’s a couple of “wow” moments where he just shows how incredible his talent is. Sure, there’s pretty much no way that he’s going to match the 50 TDs and 5,000 yards he put up as a rookie, but make no mistake. Even of the numbers don’t equate out to those this season, he has taken another step forward, and Patrick Mahomes in year 3 of training camp, in year 2 as the starting Quarterback is a better player than he was at this time last year. When the reigning MVP is that much better, it’s really exciting.
- Most of the Starting positions are set – Going into training camp every year, there’s usually question marks surrounding who is going to be starting somewhere, and for the most part the Chiefs don’t have those battles this season. Now sure, there’s a lot of back end of the roster competition (who’s going to be the backup TE, who’s going to be the backup DE, who’s going to be the 3rd RB, etc.) but for the most part, those battles are not in the starting lineup. The one spot where we really are seeing a camp competition is Safety, and that is pretty well stabilized with rookie Juan Thornhill lining up next to Tyrann Matheiu in most first team reps. Daniel Sorenson still takes some reps there too, but not many.
- The Chiefs have A LOT of depth on the defensive line and at WR – The Chiefs have 12 defensive linemen in camp. 4 of them are going to get cut, and pretty much all of them are worthy to be on a NFL roster. Frank Clark and Chris Jones of course are the headline names, but free agent acquisitions Emmanuel Ogbah and Alex Okafor are both looking good. Former 2nd round picks Tanoh Kpassagnon and Breeland Speaks are doing good work at both inside and outside positions, and 3rd year DT Derrick Nnadi is looking stout in the middle of the line. That doesn’t even include rookie Khalen Saunders nor Xavier Williams or Justin Hamilton. This very well might be the deepest and best the Chiefs defensive line has been since the late 90s, and I’m not exaggerating. The receiving corps easily goes 6 if not 7 players deep, and they’re going to have to make some tough calls there as well. Hill, Watkins, Robinson, and rookie Mecole Hardman (more on him in a bit) are sure bets to make the roster. The next tier of guys, Byron Pringle, Gehrig Dieter, and Marcus Kemp. One of them is most likely going to be cut, and that will be heartbreaking to see. Most likely that will be Kemp, but no matter how you slice it. Whichever one of them it is, don’t be surprised to see another team raid the waiver wire for Chiefs receivers.
- The Chiefs are incredibly thin at the TE position – As deep as the Chiefs are at WR and along the DL, they’re equally thin at tight end. Sure, they’ve got Travis Kelce, and he’s the best TE in the NFL. However, they allowed Demetrius Harris to leave via free agency this offseason and didn’t really address the position in the draft or free agency. Basically you’ve got a lot of guys who you’ve probably never heard of, except maybe Blake Bell, but if you’ve heard of Bell it’s because you watched the Oklahoma Sooners in the middle part of the last decade and remember the “Belldozer” package or because you remember his days as the Quarterback at Bishop Carroll High School in Wichita, not for being a NFL TE. This will be a fascinating position for fans to watch to see if they make any signings around the cut down periods.
A few players that have stood out to me specifically this camp:
- Mecole Hardman – The Chiefs traded up to get this guy in the 2nd round of this past April’s NFL Draft. He’s a speedster of a wide receiver out of Georgia that many think the Chiefs drafted because of the cloud of doubt surrounding the future of Tyreek Hill. Maybe you remember the touching story of Hardman buying his mom a house as the first thing he did after signing his contract. Hardman really showed out on the first day in pads catching a wheel route for a huge play, making a nice grab in traffic on a crossing route, and made a couple of DBs look silly with his route running. While I don’t expect him to be the #1 or #2 guy this year, this is a guy who could potentially take some snaps away from Demarcus Robinson as the season goes on, and definitely looks to be a replacement for Sammy Watkins in the future.
- D’Montre Wade – A name Chiefs fans may need to get to know. Wade got the first camp Int off of Patrick Mahomes on Monday, also with offseason acquisition Bashaud Breeland banged up with a thumb injury, roster long shot Wade has stepped in with the first team defense and has looked pretty solid. He’s experiencing growing pains, and Tyreek Hill has burned him a couple of times, but he’s definitely getting better every day and getting some big time reps against the leagues best offense can only be good for him. He’s on defense (so he wears white at practice) and his number is 40, if you go out to camp or are watching preseason action. Look for him.
- Kendall Fuller – Fuller has had a rough go of it so far in camp. The big piece of the Alex Smith trade from Washington, he struggled a little in his first season as a Chief last year, and this year seems to be working exclusively in the slot corner position. Now, when he was in Washington, he rated as the top slot corner in all of football so it may just be they’re playing to his strengths. However, Fuller has been beaten quite a bit by Hill in the first few days of camp, and spends quite a bit of time on the sideline in base defense, even with Breeland out right now. I wouldn’t be too concerned about it, because it is just the first week of camp practices and he’s shown he’s a very good defender in the past. He’s just the one guy that’s stood out to me in a not good way.
- Keith Reaser – The one sad note to pass along so far from camp is about Keith Reaser. Reaser has been in Chiefs camp each of the last couple of seasons and hasn’t fully been able to stay healthy. This year, he went and played in the upstart AAF and lead that league in Interceptions for its short existence and earned another free agent contract from the Chiefs. Monday at practice, he went down in the middle of the field and the team fears it could be an achilles tear. Tough break for Keith, hopefully it’s not as serious as it looked, but it definitely doesn’t look great right now.
More Chiefs camp updates coming soon!