The Kansas City Chiefs have fully reported to training camp in St. Joseph, MO! The Chiefs didn’t have a single holdout this year, and every one is in house and ready to go. The only exception seems to be Reggie Ragland, who has a minor knee issue according to coach Andy Reid and he’ll be taking it day by day. Ashton Lampkin also sat out practice today, but everyone else was a full go. Practice was short and sweet today, just a lot of team drills with little contact, but it was good to see the guys getting back on the field and shake off some of that offseason rust. A few things that stood out to me today:
- Patrick Mahomes is in control – Patrick Mahomes enters the 2nd training camp of his NFL career as THE guy, and it shows. Patrick has a total grasp of the offense and the respect of his teammates. Yes, he’s still learning and taking every day as a learning experience, but he commands the huddle and appears to have developed the trust and respect that he needs to lead this team. He connected on a couple deep balls, one to Sammy Watkins that got everyone out of their seats. He had good enthusiasm after practice as well when speaking to those of us in attendance.
- Depth Chart along the Offensive Line – Much was made about the health of Mitch Morse and his lack of participation in OTAs this offseason. Morse was back in today but rotating snaps at center along with Cam Erving. Coach Reid said after practice that he’s just trying to work Morse in slowly but that he fully expects him to be the center once again this year. Parker Ehinger lined up at left guard with the first team. He showed some promise, especially as a run blocker, his rookie season but then got injured after a few games and dealt with injuries all of last season. Without him last year, the left guard spot was very weak for the Chiefs line, if he is healthy it brings some stability to a position that desperately needs it. Erving is an interesting player to watch, he’s capable of playing anywhere on the line, but definitely prefers to play the tackle position over center where he’s been used so far. Kansas City likes his flexibility, but he did become a malcontent while in Cleveland when asked to play inside. Definitely something to keep an eye on throughout camp.
- Depth Chart at Linebacker – With Reggie Ragland out, the first player to get the nod next to Anthony Hitchens at inside linebacker was 2nd year man Ukeme Eligwe. He was the main guy in base defensive formations. What was fascinating to watch was the different personnel mixes the Chiefs had in at different times. The Chiefs’ second round pick in this year’s draft Breeland Speaks lined up at both inside and outside linebacker at various times throughout the day, showing his versaitility. 2nd year pro out of Villanova, and admittedly one of my favorite guys, Tanoh Kpassagnon got some rotation in with the first team as well at outside backer. Kpassagnon, Speaks, and Dee Ford all took turns with the first team opposite Justin Houston today and it shows the competition that there is. As I stated in my previous article, this is a massive year for Ford. It’s a contract year and if he can’t stay healthy or if he doesn’t live up to his first round grade, this could be his last in Kansas City.
- The Chiefs are incredibly deep at Wide Recieiver – One of the positions that, over the years, the Chiefs have always seemed to come up thin or weak at is Wide Receiver. Even back in the Marty Schottenheimer and Dick Vermeil era’s the offense really was focused on tight ends and running backs more so than receivers, and in the Smith/Reid era it’s been much of the same. Now, having guys like Tony Gonzalez and Travis Kelce at tight end is a reason for that of course, but also a reason is the lack of stand out depth at the receiver position. However, this year that does not appear to be the case. In my opinion, the Chiefs enter this year’s camp with 9, yes you read that right, NINE different receivers who legitimately can/should be on a NFL roster. At least 3, probably 4 of them are going to be cut, and watching that competition play out over the course of the next few weeks is going to be immensely entertaining. Today, Chris Conley made a couple of really good catches and cuts to show that he’s fully back from his achilles injury from a year ago. Sammy Watkins showed a deep ball connection with Mahomes, and Gehrig Dieter made a couple nice catches as well. Going into 2018 the Chiefs will be as deep as they’ve ever been at the position in franchise history.
The only other thing that stood out to me as practice wound down was the confidence and determination of the players. Travis Kelce, Patrick Mahomes, Sammy Watkins, as well as Kendall Fuller all came over to talk with the media after practice today and each one of them mentioned the phrase “Super Bowl” as their goal for the year. Now, of course, as a professional player and team your ultimate goal is to win that every year, but this year the attitude seems different around the Chiefs. This year there wasn’t talk about winning the division, there wasn’t talk about winning a playoff game, there was talk about the goal of winning the Super Bowl. That alone should have the entire Chiefs Kingdom excited for this upcoming season. I’ll be out there again tomorrow morning, live tweeting practice and will have day 2 observations up tomorrow afternoon.