Chiefs Training Camp Chronicles

It’s a new day and a new season in the NFL and in Kansas City.  The Chiefs have kicked off training camp 2017 in St. Joseph, MO on the campus of Missouri Western State University. I’ve been up at camp pretty much daily since it opened and will be continuing to add daily updates here as camp progresses.  Camp started on July 28th and will continue through August 16th. You can check out the Chiefs’ full schedule for the 2017 season right here

Photo by: Justin McLuckie

The Chiefs opened training camp on Friday with an afternoon session, and then Saturday got in a full morning’s workout.  The team wasn’t in pads yet, so there wasn’t very much in the way of contact going on.  However, some players were able to shine and turn heads early on.  Key players and takeaways from Saturday’s practice.

  • Seantavius Jones – He was clearly the star of Saturday’s practice.  Jones made several big plays, including going up to grab a deep ball over Marcus Peters on one of them.  Jones enters his 2nd training camp in Kansas City, after spending 2016 on the Chiefs practice squad.  It’s no secret that the Chiefs are thin at the WR position and if Jones can keep up his early camp showing, he could be a huge asset in that department. He first entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with the New Orleans Saints in 2014.
  • Alex Smith –  The much maligned Chiefs QB had a great day on Saturday.  Smith is an interesting case to me to look at.  He did the same thing last year in camp, and that is he throws the ball down field and does it consistently, with accuracy.  However, the deep ball is something we rarely, if ever, see from him in actual games during the season.  Smith is most likely in his final year in Kansas City, but this season is still huge for the 13th year veteran.  If he wants to continue to play beyond this year, his performance will be key into enticing other teams to give him an opportunity.
  • C.J. Spiller – He also had a solid day.  Made a few impressive grabs on passes out of the backfield.  He’s a veteran guy, who hasn’t really done anything of note in several years and is just trying to latch on to a back end roster spot at this point in his career. But he had a very impressive day on Saturday.
  • Patrick Mahomes – The rookie QB that everyone is interested in.  Loved what I saw out of him in the 2 minute offense.  He navigated the team 80 yards in just 4 plays taking only 1:04 off the clock and ended it with a TD run.  Throughout the rest of practice, he looked ok.  He showed flashes of brilliance but I also saw some poor decisions and lackluster looks.  It’s going to take time, but after watching him today, it was easy to see why the Chiefs had faith to move up and draft the kid from Texas Tech.
Photo by: Justin McLuckie

Sunday was the first day in pads. The guys got after it a little bit more, and we saw some nice battles begin to take shape.  The big matchup was Tyreek Hill vs Marcus PetersPeters, of course, is one of the best CBs in the NFL and Tyreek Hill is a 2nd year player who is dealing with a lot of expectations going into the season. The 2 of them going head to head is a blast to watch.  Hill got the better of Peters on a few occasions, but before the day was done, it was Peters who got his first int of training camp, picking off a Smith pass intended for Hill.  That battle was the main highlight of day 1 in pads. Other observations from Sunday:

  • Seantavius Jones continues to impress.  Had another couple of great catches and moves today.  Coach Reid said he liked what he was seeing from him after practice, but that there was a lot of time still to go in camp, and the question would be whether or not he could continue to improve once the defense adjusts to him and what he can get done.
  • Travis Kelce never misses a moment to entertain. After catching a TD pass during 7 on 7, he did a quick endzone celebration to entertain the crowd.
  • The Chiefs have a lot of depth at Inside Linebacker.  They have several guys always rotating in those spots throughout practice.  The run stopping ability of the Chiefs defense was brought into question last year and the added depth is a welcome sight.
  • Rookie RB Kareem Hunt snagged a nice 1 handed grab today over his shoulder from backup QB Tyler Bray.  Hunt has looked very explosive to open camp, and could push for reps with the first team.
  • Mahomes had a good first day in pads as well.  Still had some growing pains to go through, made a couple ill-advised throws, but overall was good again on Sunday.
Photo by: Justin McLuckie

Monday morning the team was back at it again.  Conspicuously absent was Derrick Johnson, we learned after practice that he had an abscessed tooth that was keeping him out of action. Luckily it was nothing major, and we should see DJ back in a day or 2.  Johnson is coming into his 13th year with the Chiefs and is coming off of a 2nd Achilles tendon tear in the last 3 years.  He did look strong in the first couple days of workouts though. Overall nothing stood out too clearly today.  A couple notes to take away from Monday.

  • My guy, Seantavius Jones, kinda came back to earth a little bit.  Had a couple dropped passes and also could have given more effort on a couple others that went incomplete.  He had such a great first couple of days, it caught me off guard to see him look more average.  Hopefully he can pick it back up tomorrow.
  • Rookie Jehu Chesson had a great day today though.  He made some nice catches and got into a little bit of a rhythm with rookie QB Patrick Mahomes.
  • Speaking of Mahomes. The rookie signal caller looks like a rookie in his first several days of camp.  He continues to show flashes of brilliance daily, but also makes a few plays that make you shake your head.  It’s easy to see his enormous upside, but you can also tell he’s got a long way to go before being ready to take over for Alex Smith.  I never was in the camp that thought he would get the job year one, and after watching him for a few days, it hasn’t changed my opinion.  He’s going to be good, and he’s got all the talent in the world.  Just needs time to develop it and there isn’t a better coach for him to be under than Andy Reid.
Photo by: Justin McLuckie

Tuesday was a very uneventful day at Chiefs camp.  The team was back into shorts and helmets, no pads, and it was a very light workout.  The offense and defense each took turns getting some looks at different formations that they’ll see and worked on timing.  After practice Coach Reid said he felt like the team did well and grew in some areas, but that it’s hard to evaluate anything seriously when pads aren’t on.  From Tuesday, the Chiefs went into an off day on Wednesday.

Photo by: Justin McLuckie

Back out on the field Thursday in full pads and full speed ahead at Chiefs Camp.  The Chiefs put on a little bit of a show today for the fans and media in attendance, with some full speed drills and full contacts practicing.  It’s a rarity to get to see that in today’s NFL with the new practice mandates set forth a few years ago, but it was nice to see for sure. Derrick Johnson was back at practice after a couple days off, and we did get a couple players nicked up over the course of the day, most notably Terrance Mitchell going down with a tweaked hamstring.  Hoping we don’t lose him for too long as he was projected into the starting lineup this season.  Overall a good day of practice with a few standouts.

  • Eric Murray – The 2nd year safety from Minnesota brought the lumber to camp today.  He was responsible for the two biggest hits of the day, one against Spencer Ware.  Murray came out of Minnesota with a reputation for hard hits, and he certainly didn’t disappoint today.  He was even getting some reps with the first team, definitely looking to play a bigger role in year two.
  • Laurent Duvernay-Tardif – He had a standout day as well along the offensive line.  He’s a guy who plays through the whistle every time out, and when the offense was down working in goal line situations out there, he was getting consistent push up front.  After signing a large contract extension in the offseason, big things are expected for Larry the Canadian Doctor this year, and we’re all hoping he keeps that edge and plays with it all season.
  • Tanoh Kpassagnon – The big rookie from Villanova had a couple standout plays defensively today.  He made a couple moves off the edge that would have resulted in sure sacks if QBs were allowed to be hit.  He’s a very green player, but has all the upside in the world and at 6’7″ and 280 LBs, is going to be a monster here in the next couple of years.
Photo by: Justin McLuckie

Friday at Camp the team was back out in full pads for a second straight day.  It’s been stated by a few different media observers that these first few days in pads are the most important days in an Andy Reid training camp.  No Surprise at all to see the intensity taken up a level again.  Got a couple up close looks at some of the line 1 on 1 drills as well as saw a few standout plays made in 7 on 7 Drills.  This team gets more exciting each day we come out to the practice field.

  • Tanoh Kpassagnon stood out again today, as I said on twitter, there was one time during 1 on 1s where he just worked over Eric Fisher.  I look forward to seeing the big rookie in game action next Friday.
  • Seantavius Jones made a couple more big plays today.  “Stretch” as he is known by the coaching staff had one play today where he was matched up with Marcus Peters and went up and over him to make the catch despite losing a shoe in the process.
  • Kelce and Mitchell both were out today, Charcandrick West who had a bad ankle made it back to the field for a little bit, but eventually had to leave early.  Camp injuries are starting to mount up, but we’re hoping for nothing serious.
Photo by: Justin McLuckie

A wet and chilly Sunday morning meant a light practice for the Chiefs.  Shorts and Helmets and brief workouts across the board.  Hard to have anything too significant stand out on a day like today.  Alex Smith continued to find deep connections with Tyreek Hill, it’s something that’s been happening frequently and consistently all throughout camp.  It’s happening so much, it makes you wonder if this is the year that Alex decides to push the ball down field more instead of just playing it safe all the time.  At this point in his career, we kind of know who Alex is and what he’s comfortable doing, but maybe, just maybe, he can transition some of the deep ball chemistry he’s made with Hill into the regular season.  The Highlight of the day was really the cross bar competition between the QBs.  They spread the field and take turns trying to hit the cross bar on the goal post with a pass.  A couple of the coaches [Matt Nagy (the OC) and Michael Vick (Coaching intern)] also got involved in the competition.  Nagy was the first to hit the Cross bar on a pass, and Vick proved that he still has every bit the cannon he’s ever had during the competition which was to the delight of media members and fans alike.  Tomorrow morning Pads will be back on and should have a more upbeat day than we did out there this morning.

Photo by: Justin McLuckie

A fun and exciting Monday up in St. Joe as the Chiefs were back at it in full pads again this morning.  Got to see a lot of really good work today from several players, and also saw some extensive work from the rookie Patrick Mahomes II.  Mahomes had a bit of an up and down day (well chronicled by ESPN’s Adam Teicher here).  He made a few of those throws, that gunslingers make, that make you as an observer shake your head.  He was intercepted a total of 3 times in practice today, but also threw about 4 TDs over the course of the morning, so it balanced out.  The concerning part of today’s practice was that Travis Kelce was still missing due to injury, along with Bennie Logan, Eric Berry, and a host of others as camp injuries are starting to mount up.  It’s not a huge deal unless any of these turn out to be serious, but the coaching staff doesn’t seem to be worried about it so I won’t worry too much either.  Some of the guys today that stood out:

  • Kareem Hunt – The rookie 3rd round draft pick out of Toledo was officially getting some work in with the first team today.  Hunt has a lot of upside and looks like your prototypical Andy Reid style of runningback but for most of camp had been running almost exclusively with the #2 offense.  Today that changed and he was rotating in regularly with Spencer Ware, especially later in the day.  This is exciting to see because it appears that he is living up to the hype surrounding him in the offseason.
  • Frank Zombo – The veteran LB has been quietly having a good camp.  He stood out today by getting to the QB for what would have been sacks on a couple occasions and for showing out during 1 on 1 drills against the tackles.  Zombo is excellent depth at the OLB position, and while he’s not the greatest pass rushing threat, he’s still an excellent rotational guy who had a very good day today.
  • Ross Travis – With Kelce sidelined, the other TEs have gotten the opportunity to get more work in throughout the last several days and Travis is the guy who appears to have made the most of it.  Travis, along with Gavin Escobar and Demetrius Harris are fighting to be the #2 TE behind Kelce in the depth chart; and while Harris still has the edge at this point, Travis has had an excellent camp and really has become a good safety blanket for Mahomes.  Mahomes’ best throw of the day came to Travis after being flushed out the the pocket by pressure.  Mahomes was able to hit Travis for a huge gain on the run that drew some applause for the fans in attendance and raised the eyebrows of those of us in the media tent.
Photo by: Justin McLuckie

The Chiefs were back out in pads on Tuesday, getting in a final full day of practice before the first preseason game on Friday night at Arrowhead Stadium. The feel for the day was fairly light, and there weren’t a lot of full contact types of drills, but still got plenty of work in over the course of the day. Alex Smith continued to show his connection with Tyreek Hill, especially on the deep ball. The 2 of them being on the same page is huge for the Chiefs and will be massive as we move forward toward the 2017 season. Tyler Bray also made some nice throws out there today, and there were a couple notable things that stood out to me overall.

  • First, it would appear that Charcandrick West’s days as a Chief are numbered. I’m trying not to read too much into what I’ve seen the last couple of days, and I can’t say for sure whether or not West’s ankle is still flaring up; but the fact remains, West has been running with Devine Redding and the 3rd team offense for the last couple of days. The person that appears to have passed over him, besides Kareem Hunt, is CJ Spiller.  Spiller was signed before camp as a veteran guy the Chiefs were kicking the tires on. With his speed and propensity to make big plays in the return game and catching passes out of the backfield, the former first round pick of the Buffalo Bills may just earn that last RB spot on the roster and leave West on the outside looking in.
  • Next, Eric Murray continued to be a standout at camp. I’ve mentioned the 2nd year Safety before, but he’s really coming into his own.  With Eric Berry resting the last couple of days, he’s been running with the first team offense and really bringing a lot of solid play to the position.

That’s the last team Training Camp Practice until Sunday.  The Preseason will kickoff this Friday Night at Arrowhead as the Chiefs welcome in the San Francisco 49ers.  Pregame coverage will begin at 7 PM with kickoff at 8:00.  Hear the game right here on Topeka’s Rock Leader V100!

Go Chiefs!!!

McLuckie

 

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