Here are some things I think that I know about Kansas City Chiefs training camp. Feel free to weigh in on your camp truths in the comments section.
1) Don’t count on too many UDFAs making the roster. This is a DEEP Chiefs roster. There aren’t many positions up for grabs as of today. Of course, things can change. Veterans can get cut or traded if a rookie is ready to take their job. One or two UDFAs typically make a typical roster. However, I don’t believe any made the initial roster last season, and the team has added a draft class since then. Most of these guys are competing for practice squad jobs.
2) Don’t get fooled by camp reports. The Chiefs have a handful of guys that always look good in camp. DAT, Demetrius Harris, Ross Travis, Phillip Gaines, Tyler Bray, Seantavius Jones among others can make plays in St Joseph. We’ll see if they can do the same in an actual NFL game.
3) Beware the camp conundrum. For every great play by a Chiefs offensive player, a Chiefs defender got torched. The opposite is also true. For every interception Patrick Mahomes throws to Eric Murray, we won’t know for sure whether to be excited about Murray or scared about Mahomes. I think we should generally hope there’s a back and forth, and that each side makes their fair share of plays.
4) The Chiefs already have a pretty good idea of who will make the roster. They are all about competition, of course, but there are some guys, who, no matter how many plays they might make, aren’t going to be on the initial 53. That’s OK, the preseason is a great opportunity for them to audition for the Chiefs practice squad or for 31 other teams.
5) The team is going to evaluate players differently than we do: It’s frustrating when we think the answer is obvious, but the team does the opposite. It’s not because we’re smarter than Andy Reid, or vice versa. It’s that we only see a small piece of the picture. As fans, all we can do is rely on what we see on the field, and what we hear from those who are more plugged in. Coaches and personnel staff see these players every day, they know who is getting it and who isn’t, they know who has bought in and who hasn’t. And they have a good idea of who can be easily replaced and who can’t. So, when the guy we see making plays doesn’t win the job, just know that there is a reason even if we don’t see it.
6) I’m not advocating blind faith. I’m NOT saying In Veach We Trust. Teams make mistakes, circumstances change, and the Chiefs have been proven wrong before. They will again. They’ll cut someone who goes on to have a huge season. (Terrelle Pryor, David Irving, Jeremy Maclin, Jamaal Charles) They’ll keep someone who fails. They’ll make a trade that doesn’t work out in the end. We are free to complain when that happens. The best they can do is make prudent decisions with all of the information available at the time. And they have far more information available than we do.
7) Preseason games ARE fun to watch! A lot of fans ignore preseason games because the results don’t matter. I really enjoy them because of the variety of players that you can watch in action. Many of them won’t see the field much in the regular season, even if they make the team. So, you’ll see some young guys scrapping for jobs (in KC or elsewhere), and some older players trying to move up the depth chart. I like to watch them all the way to the last snap. See who is still hustling and making their case.
8) Injuries are a HUGE focus in camp. This is true on multiple fronts. Camp is the first time we get to see guys like DJ and Justin Houston healthy after missing time last season. Checking on their progress, and seeing how they respond to being back in action is a great reason to watch Chiefs camp. The avoidance of major injuries is another theme of camp. Nobody cares if they win preseason games. Everyone cares that they get through them as healthy as possible.
9) EVERY team’s fanbase is optimistic this time of year. Troll around the other SB Nation sites and see for yourselves. ‘Tis the season for optimism. If you’re not feeling good about your team right now, something is terribly wrong. We expect development and improvement from the roster, and for draft picks to show why they were chosen. Everyone is relatively healthy, and everyone expects to be in the playoffs. That said, fewer teams have proven they are consistently able to win 10-plus games per year. The Chiefs have. So, go ahead and be optimistic about KC.
From the Upside Down
The Chiefs WR group might be better than it was in 2016. Losing Maclin hurts, but Tyreek Hill appears more than ready to take the next step up. Chris Conley can step up to where Hill was last year, at least in terms of yardage. Demarcus Robinson can step up to where Conley or Albert Wilson was last year, and so on. It’s possible that the whole group just got younger, faster, cheaper, more athletic and could be together for a long time to come.