Four compelling, aggressive, and violent weeks. Four weeks where dreams have been made and lost. Those four weeks of Kansas City Chiefs training camp were the epitome of competition and new teammates pushing each other. Tyreek Hill has displayed incredible speed, Patrick Mahomes has matured, and the defense has continued to dominate. Although the Chiefs will be returning to facilities in Kansas City for the remainder of August, they had two more days for players to refine their unity with one another. No coach was going to let those days go by without inserting one more intense drill. Thus, as Chiefs training camp closed on Wednesday afternoon, the team refused to take any play off and continued the epic competition seen from day one.
Kansas City Chiefs Training Camp – The End
Although the Chiefs were soon to be leaving St. Joseph and closing training camp, finishing is a bit of a misnomer. Coaches are still installing plays and schemes over the remainder of August. For visibility purposes, however, Tuesday and Wednesday would be one of the last great chances for players to leave developmental impressions on coaches, media, and fans alike.
Camp began with enthusiasm as linebacker Derrick Johnson returned to the practice field. However, defensive backs Steven Nelson, Eric Berry, and Terrance Mitchell were not practicing. Their absence continued a dark mark on the secondary, which has been the most injured group of players in camp.
Whether the offense was motivated by a desire to leave an indelible mark, or the plethora of injured corners, training camp began with quarterbacks air mailing beautiful passes to the receiving corps. Quarterback Alex Smith connected with wide receiver Albert Wilson on three straight, rhythmic plays. Mahomes copied Smith on his own play set, connecting with De’Anthony Thomas on three straight passes.
Upon moving over to running drills, rookie Kareem Hunt maintained his second position in the rotation. Offensive lineman Zach Fulton was observed playing at right and left tackle, as well as right guard. Quietly, Fulton has played across the entire offensive line, save center. Offensive coordinator Matt Nagy explained the value a rotational offensive lineman has brought.
“It is valuable to be able to have a guy that can move around and be versatile,” Nagy said. “Injuries are a part of this game, so if you can have some guys that can play dual positions, it’s a benefit.”
Again, the defensive line had a field day against the run, with Bennie Logan leading the nightmare charge again. While Mahomes had a great first half of practice, his second half was less than pleasant. The wave began as Tanoh Kpassagnon halted a two-minute drive with a sack.
Daniel Sorensen continued the defensive domination by intercepting Mahomes on a questionable crossing route over the middle. Sorenson will be one of the leaders on defense this year; over the tenure of camp he has shown improved ballhawk skills over the middle.
Further, Sorenson is representative of the wide leadership that has been displayed on the defense. Kpassagnon explained it best.
“This team in general, a lot of the older guys try to help the younger guys,” Kpassagnon stated of the help he has received from veterans. “I have had teammates and friends on other teams that have been going through the same process as I have as a rookie and they have said the older guys weren’t that helpful. It was a more competitive nature, but here they really help you out. I have been tumbling with Tamba Hali. He does a lot of jujitsu. Justin Houston was giving me pointers, like everybody.”
The leadership spoken of is emblematic of the consistency and intensity brought to training camp. Head coach Andy Reid and special teams coach Dave Toub have installed a sense of competition, but also holistic unity. If there is no other note taken away from training camp, let this be understood. The Kansas City Chiefs are a team focused on playing together through inspiring performance, insistent aggressiveness, and the love of a brother.
Rain Summons Chiefs out of St. Joseph
After weeks of the gorgeous Missouri sun shining on fans and players at Kansas City Chiefs training camp, the heavens opened in an impressive way on Wednesday morning, forcing the last practice inside. While fans could not go inside to watch, the Chiefs were more than happy to invite military members in as camp concluded with Military Appreciation Day.
Also invited to the field was cornerback Steve Nelson, who had been battling lingering injuries. Mitchell, however, continued to sit out of practice. Undrafted camp invite cornerback Ashton Lampkin returned healthy, and assisted in securing Mitchell’s position.
Amidst all the corner injuries, all-pro Marcus Peters has stood strong, and displayed his deceptive coverage again by commencing the practice with an interception, putting his camp total at eight.
Practice overall was relatively light on Wednesday due to the move inside. However, after practice the Chiefs showed their undying dedication to Chiefs Kingdom from all over the world. Bad things can turn into great moments, and the inside practice provided military members and opportunity to mingle with the players. For player and service men and women alike, the indelible moment allowed for everyone to remember the inspiration a football team can have on their community.
“Great to have the military out here today and celebrate all they do for us, so we can do what we do and keep us free from harm’s way,” was Reid’s opening statement after practice.
In addition to thanking the members of the military for their service, coach Reid also opened the window into what he saw as a successful camp.
“I thought we got a lot done this camp,” he noted. “I think schematically we probably got a little more done than in years past. We challenged them like crazy this year in all three phases of the game. With the weather cooperating the way it did you can get away with doing that.”
Although camp may be closed in St. Joseph, coach Reid does not see this as a finished product.
“I thought the guys functioned at a high level, which is good,” Reid stated. “We still have a ways to go. We’re not clearly the finished product that we need to be. We’ll wait until we finish up camp.”
Smith was coyer than coach Reid about what has been accomplished to year’s past, but he still saw the camp as a success.
“You know I do not always love comparing, but I think this camp has been great,” Smith said. “I feel like every day we have taken a stab, we have gotten better. We have gotten something out of it. Guys have brought it. It is hard some days when you are back-to-back-to-back in the pads and the long days in heat.”
Mahomes closed training camp on the theme of resounding leadership Smith is bringing.
“…Really, it is a great relationship,” the rookie quarterback emphasized. “I learn a ton from Alex. Just having him in front of me, you can’t even explain how much he teaches me on the sidelines. He is always helping me out. And at the same time, we are always pushing each other to be better every single day.”
The leadership was a resounding success at camp, and as mentioned before, is the biggest takeaway. The rookie class of Mahomes, Hunt, Kpassagnon, and even special teams candidates such as Leon McQuay are all going to have an impact this year thanks to the leadership.
Mentioned before camp, the aggressiveness and competition needed to be top notch. In retrospect, training camp not only saw the rise of competition, such as that between Allen Bailey, Rakeem Nunez-Roches, and Logan on the defensive line, but a rise in unity.
The Kansas City Chiefs are leaving camp as a band of brothers. Installing plays will not be complete until the last pre-season game, but what has been crafted at camp is the tone for the season. Every player knows that they need to fight harder than ever before so the guy next to him can complete his job.
The tone of battling for one another will go far in the regular season as every play matters for the 2017 Kansas City Chiefs.