The Kansas City Chiefs have concluded training camp up at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, MO. At the outset of camp I raised several questions that I had going into camp about this upcoming season. Now, we’re all fully aware that training camp doesn’t answer every question we have about the team going in to 2018, however, it is the first full step and now we have a better idea of where we stand. Based on what I saw the last few weeks up in St. Joe, here’s what I’ve learned:
- How will Patrick Mahomes adjust to being the full time starter? Just fine. You can really see the growth in Pat as a leader from year one to year two. This team is his, he’s confident in his role as its leader, and he is well respected as THE guy by his teammates. Mahomes appears to be in control of the offense, have a good grasp of what’s asked of him, and unafraid to test the limits of what can be accomplished. Andy Reid is known around the league as a QB guru, pretty much every QB he’s ever had has been successful under him. It’s been said before, by better men than myself, that Reid and Mahomes are perfect for each other and their partnership will bring the Chiefs to new heights.
- Who would step up in the secondary with Marcus Peters gone? That guy appears to be Steven Nelson. Nelson has yet to record an interception in his NFL career in the regular season, but finished camp as the team leader in takeaways. Since coming out of Alabama, Nelson has split his time between being a slot/3rd corner and an outside guy. This year, it appears he’s going to be lining up on the outside the majority of the time. In camp, the defense would open in base with Nelson and Kendall Fuller as the outside corners. Whenever the offense gave a 3 receiver look, David Amerson would come in, Fuller would kick inside to the slot, and Nelson would remain on the outside. Rookie corners Arrion Springs and Tremon Smith also looked very solid throughout camp and will be guys fans should continue to keep an eye on throughout the rest of the preseason.
- Injuries? This is the one that will stick with the Chiefs the most coming out of camp. Daniel Sorenson has been lost for about 8 weeks due to a knee injury, Eric Berry missed the final days of camp due to a sore heel, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif suffered a concussion and is out until he’s able to clear concussion protocol. The #1 goal of any team in training camp is to come out healthy, and the Chiefs had a rough camp from that respect. Eric Berry is the most concerning injury of the bunch, this heel problem is eerily similar to the one he had last year around training camp, and we all remember him rupturing his achilles early last season and putting the defense behind the 8 ball. Sorenson’s injury is also a little bit concerning because it’s forced the Chiefs to have to dip into depth they weren’t necessarily planning on dipping into this year, be it Armani Watts or even Eric Murray at the safety spot. The team is bringing in free agent Orlando Scandrick for a visit to help provide some extra depth at the safety position with both Sorenson and Berry on the mend. LDT should be back in a week or so, plenty of time to be ready for the season. Even though they both made it out of camp healthy, both Justin Houston and Dee Ford are guys who have injury history for this team. Staying healthy is going to be the #1 key for the Chiefs moving forward, not just in the preseason but in the regular season as well.
- Position battles? Wide Receiver and Running back were every bit as entertaining as anticipated throughout camp. This team legitimately has 10 WRs that could/should make an NFL roster this season. If you were going to press me at this moment to say it. I’ll say the final Wide Receivers kept would be: Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Chris Conley, Demarcus Robinson, Marcus Kemp, and Jehu Chesson with Gehrig Deiter and Byron Pringle the first names added to the practice squad. At running back, I think there’s a legitimate chance they keep 5 total (4 RBs and 1 FB). Kareem Hunt and Anthony Sherman are obvious, but beyond them I see Spencer Ware, Damien Williams, and Darrel Williams all making the final roster; Kerwynn Williams as well, but Darrel really impressed me in the first preseason game and his college resume speaks for itself. These are the 2 position groups that will be hardest to whittle down by the time the regular season rolls around.
That was training camp 2018. Preseason week 2 against the Atlanta Falcons takes place Friday. Chiefs pregame starts at 5:00 with kickoff at 6:30 on Topeka’s Rock Leader V100! Keep up with all the action from the game on the radio, and follow me on twitter @m_c_luckie for up to the minute updates on all things Chiefs during the game.