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Kansas City Chiefs Training Camp 2018: Saturday observations

AP lead draft and film analyst Kent Swanson was in attendance for his first practice of training camp on Saturday.

Kansas City Chiefs v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

It was Padurday (Credit Matt Lane for that name) up in St. Joseph Saturday morning.

For the first time all offseason, the Kansas City Chiefs were geared up for some live football. Here were my observations from the first full padded practice”

Patrick Mahomes

  • This definitely feels like Mahomes’ team. He’s playing with a lot of energy and he seems to be taking on a leadership role.
  • It’s clear that Mahomes has put in the time to fully grasp the offense. He is showing comfort with what he’s seeing and what he’s being asked to do. One of those signs is the work they were doing mixing up the cadence. He’s getting the unit in and out of the huddle efficiently, giving him time to play around with the snap count to help give him clues on what the defense is doing. They were also able to get the defense offside on a few occasions as a result of the mix in cadence.
  • Team blitz period was Mahomes’ most efficient period all day, which is a great sign. I don’t think he had an incompletion in the period. He was quick to process and was consistently finding solutions, even if they weren’t always a big play.
  • One of those instances was moving away from pressure when Kendall Fuller came on a corner blitz. Mahomes moved away from the blitz but threw off his back foot into the void where the blitz came from to Travis Kelce on an under route. The throw wasn’t accurate, but Kelce made a great adjustment. He knew he could get away with that throw based on the pressure and the void created.
  • Overall, Mahomes was doing a good job of taking what the defense gave him. He didn’t have to force the issue and took care of the football.
  • Mahomes corrected Sammy Watkins’ alignment before the snap and then delivered a great throw on time to Kelce in seven-on-seven.
  • My favorite play from Mahomes came in team period. He faced a blitz that forced him to throw hot (the protection rules can’t handle who blitzed, so he’s forced to get the ball out quick and most often forces a route adjustment by a specified receiver). He had Kelce on a slant route, but he was late to turn his head. It didn’t matter, because Mahomes threw a ball with touch and anticipation. With less velocity, the ball arrived later on Kelce, allowing him time to make the catch. It was an impressive moment for a young quarterback.
  • It wasn’t all pretty Saturday though, as Mahomes forced a ball on a corner route to Watkins for an interception. David Amerson undercut the throw, but the ball would’ve been incomplete even if he wasn’t there. Not the best decision.


Kansas City Chiefs v New England Patriots Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
  • Watkins and Tyreek Hill have had their days already in camp, but Kelce stood out to most of the trio Saturday. He was often a solution in team blitz period, as expected. They lined up with him isolated on the backside, as they often do, and Mahomes hit him on a nice out route. You can also see he showed up a couple times in the section above.
  • The biggest play of the day was Mahomes to Hill for a touchdown on a coverage bust by Kendall Fuller.
  • Our own Craig Stout had the explanation on the coverage issue. You can find his article on pattern matching here.
  • Nice route here by Hill on the lasso. Good job by Mahomes to work all the way down to the underneath route.
  • Marcus Kemp saw some time with the first team in seven-on-seven drills. He also made a great play with the second team to climb the ladder for a leaping catch and keep his feet in bounds.
  • Demetrius Harris double-caught a pass. The return on investment for his own Jugs machine remains to be seen.
  • The third tight end is a giant mystery. None of Tim Wright, Jace Amaro or Alex Ellis stood out.
  • I get the interest in Blake Mack. He has the chance to be a versatile weapon if he develops. He had his hands on a few balls he couldn’t bring in, but I see the traits.
  • Byron Pringle was quiet Saturday, but offensive coordinator Eric Bienemy was not quiet about Pringle’s performance. He received both good screaming and bad screaming. I couldn’t tell what the bad was, but the good came when he executed a rub route to allow a drag route underneath to get out the back door.

The rest of the offense

Kansas City Chiefs v Houston Texan Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images
  • The word of the day for Bienemy was “FINISH.”
  • Chad Henne had an inaccurate day, missing high, low, in front and behind. He had a ball tipped for an interception on the errant attempt.
  • Cameron Erving had the first crack at the left guard position. Parker Ehinger got some work with the first group as well.
  • Charcandrick West bent an outside zone run back for a nice gain.
  • Eric Fisher had a false start penalty.
  • I get the intrigue of Kahlil McKenzie. He is a big-bodied guy that moves very well. He had an impressive moment in pass protection where he set and anchor and wasn’t moved at all. Stood out.
  • No one in the running back group stood out all too much. The Williams(es) are all intriguing for various reasons. Damien has some chops as a pass catcher and could be a fun piece. He and Mahomes tried to hook up quick on a seam out of the backfield. Kerwynn is a change-of-pace type. Darrel is big and still looks to be putting it all together.


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  • I was most interested to see what Breeland Speaks looked like Saturday. He has the potential to set a hard edge in the run game. That will be the key for him to get playing time his rookie year. They moved him around a little bit and on one play, he rushed as a stand up over the guard. It wasn’t all great for Speaks, as he lost contain on an outside run to his side and didn’t do much as a pass rusher.
  • The game looks a little fast for Dorian O’Daniel right now, and that seems to be reflected in his time with the third-team defense. He’ll figure it out.
  • Derrick Nnadi has the look of a two-down player. He’s stout in the run game and will be an asset this year when he puts it all together. Like O’Daniel, the game still looks a little fast for him. He also was guilty of an offsides penalty.
  • Tremon Smith and Lottery Ticket Arrion Springs were you cornerbacks with the second-team defense. Smith contested one or two passes. Springs got bullied at the top of a route by Gehrig Dieter but also wasn’t appear to be challenged that much on the day. I’ll have my eye on both of them Sunday.
  • Lottery Ticket Robert McCray continues to pique my interest. For a 266-pound man, he looked fluid in coverage, even though he’s pretty new at this. He showed an ability to go speed to power on a rush in team period as well. Keep an eye on him.
  • Leon McQuay saw a few reps with the first team defense.
  • Rookie Armani Watts had a nice pass breakup late in the day. It was good to see him able to participate in full pads.
  • Save for a few coverage busts, it was a good day for the defense. The run fits were sound, surrendering only a few decent runs. There also weren’t a ton of explosive plays from the offense.

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