Caitie McMekin/News Sentinel via Imagn Content Services, LLC
Our notebook is back for the 2021 edition of Kansas City training camp.
With veterans having arrived to the campus of Missouri Western State University on Monday afternoon, the Kansas City Chiefs took the field for their first full-team practice of training camp on Wednesday morning.
One of the most critical parts of the camp’s first day is taking note of which players are on the field with the first team. The Chiefs have many first-team starters set, something to be expected from a team that has played in back-to-back Super Bowls.
But there are positions of note up for grabs — including the right guard position along the offensive line and one of the three cornerback positions when the defense is on the field in the nickel.
The Chiefs’ first-team offense debuted with left tackle Orlando Brown Jr., left guard Joe Thuney and veteran right tackle Mike Remmers — all to be expected. But there were also two rookies on the field: second-round rookie center Creed Humphrey and sixth-round rookie Trey Smith.
Smith earned first dibs over possible returning starter Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, the team’s right guard from 2015-19 before his opt-out season in 2020.
“It was consistency,” said Reid after practice when asked about how Smith got the initial nod. “He had done a nice job, not that it’s 100% perfect — young guy, but he showed enough to legitimately be in that position for right now, and then he’s got to compete, so we’ll see how all that goes when we get pads on.”
The 22-year-old Smith had been considered at the very least a day-two talent before he fell in the draft due to medical reasons. However, since general manager Brett Veach selected him, the Chiefs have been consistent in saying they felt he was healthy and ready to perform. There was no greater sign of that than Reid and offensive line coach Andy Heck running him out to start camp.
On the defensive side of the ball, offseason acquisition and former 2018 first-rounder Mike Hughes found himself among the starters at cornerback. Charvarius Ward and L’Jarius Sneed began camp as outside corners in the base, but in nickel looks, it was primarily Hughes who saw action.
“He’s been growing,” said safety and defensive leader Tyrann Mathieu of Hughes after the workout. “Ever since his first day in OTAs (organized team activities), you could kind of see him growing. You could see him understanding the scheme, understanding the players that he’s working with, so it’s important for him to continue to take these next couple weeks to continue to get better within the scheme, and I think he has enough talent.
“I think the guy can play. He’s athletic; he can catch punts. [He’s] got great ball skills. I think most importantly, it’s all about the scheme — where he’s supposed to be, what he’s not supposed to do, and then from there, it’s just football. See the ball, try to make a play.”
Hughes, 24, looks to be in competition for the third cornerback role with another former first-rounder: Deandre Baker, who also saw snaps outside with the first team on Wednesday. Hughes played on both the inside and outside in his three years with the Minnesota Vikings.
The Chiefs called Wednesday’s workout “Season Ticket Member Day,” which is self-explanatory. There were close to 4,000 fans in attendance. Kansas City welcomed referees, who got some training of their own during the team’s live periods.
The weather in St. Joseph Wednesday morning was sunny and hot. The temperature was in the low 80s when practice began at 9:15 a.m., with a real feel of 88 degrees.
Chiefs special teams coordinator Dave Toub ran 14 players through returner drills, including Byron Pringle, Cornell Powell and Demarcus Robinson.
Humphrey, who has started camp as Patrick Mahomes’ center, is indeed snapping with his left hand.
The second-team offensive line is started training camp with the following combination: left tackle Lucas Niang, left guard Nick Allegretti, center Austin Blythe, right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and right tackle Andrew Wylie
Mahomes appeared to have already gotten back in a groove with wide receivers Mecole Hardman and Demarcus Robinson. The quarterback had back-to-back connections on deep passes down opposite sidelines.
Mahomes weaved a beautiful no-look pass through three defenders to find wide receiver Tyreek Hill. And here it is:
— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) July 28, 2021
This was a rare successful moment for that duo on Wednesday — they looked a little out of sync — but it’s only Day 1 of a long camp.
Powell caught a deep pass, but it wasn’t from Mahomes. Instead, it was from Shane Buechele, who got the first crack at the No. 3 quarterback position. Buechele is in a battle with Anthony Gordon for what I project to be a practice squad spot.
Wide receiver Marcus Kemp ripped the ball out of defensive back Chris Lammons’ hands on a 50-50 ball.
Second-year linebacker Willie Gay Jr. made his presence known, recording two pass breakups — one in seven-on-seven work and one in 11-on-11. Gay showed burst to the ball early, already living up to that “Turbo” nickname given to him by his Chiefs teammates in 2020.
We had our first look at defensive lineman Chris Jones as an EDGE, but he did not spend the whole day there, rotating inside and outside at various points during the practice.
Defensive back Zayne Anderson caught my eye, as he ripped a ball away from tight end Jody Fortson.
Kicker Harrison Butker missed a 58-yarder on what looked to be a two-minute drill, but he made all his chip shots in extra-point work.
In for James Winchester (COVID-19 list), Long snapper Drew Scott is wearing No. 47.
Press conferences (Spotify)
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Did not practice (COVID-19 list): Running back Darwin Thompson, long snapper James Winchester.
Did not practice (injury): Defensive end Malik Herring (ACL), tight end Nick Keizer (back spasms), Kyle Long (tibia), Armani Watts (foot); Watts was seen walking amongst the defense, taking in mental reps
Injured Wednesday: Reid said that linebacker Anthony Hitchens “tweaked his hamstring.”
Tweet of the day
Our John Dixon compiled all of Wednesday’s tweets here. Here is the tweet of the day:
The Chiefs are introducing “Tailgate Suites” this year before home games. It includes indoor access, food and drinks, and an awesome viewing deck for fans. These things are sweet. pic.twitter.com/keAxZHdRLp
— Matt McMullen (@KCChiefs_Matt) July 28, 2021
The Jersey Shore meets St. Joe.
Quote of the day
Mathieu on entering camp at the age of 29: “I think most of the guys I looked up to, they’ve played in this league a long time — Ronde Barber, Deion Sanders, Charles Woodson, Champ Bailey, Johnathan Joseph, when I was in Houston — [Joseph] played 14 years at outside cornerback, that’s pretty tough to do so. I think for the most part, if you take care of your body, you can play in this league.”
The Chiefs resume camp with their second practice Thursday at 9:15 a.m. Arrowhead Time. Afterward, Chiefs players will speak to the media.