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Saturday training camp observations from St. Joe

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Nearly the entire Arrowhead Pride team was in town to watch the Chiefs practice Saturday afternoon

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs-Training Camp Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Nearly the entire Arrowhead Pride team was out at Saturday’s Kansas City Chiefs training camp practice in St. Joseph. Here’s what we all saw from the session.

Kent Swanson

  • This was Patrick Mahomes’ best day of camp that I’ve seen. He was aggressive with the ball and displayed excellent placement. He was fearless and decisive throughout the day.
  • Mahomes had one of the most impressive throws I’ve seen from him, and that’s saying a lot. He rolled out, contorted his body, threw side arm and back into the middle of the field between two defenders to Tyreek Hill.
  • The second unit defense has been a young group, but is showing a ton of promise: Ben Niemann, Dorian O’Daniel, Armani Watts, Tremon Smith, Arrion Springs and D’montre Wade were all on the field for a few reps together in seven-on-seven. A lot of potential.

Matt Lane

  • The defensive line was working inside stunts in some small group sessions following by some two-on-twos and one-on-ones.
  • Chris Jones and Tanoh Kpassagnon on the same side of the field is a combo I’m interested in. There’s a lot of power to work with. The flashed against Cameron Erving and Eric Fisher.
  • Lottery Tickets Robert McCray and Tyrone Holmes showed good bend coming off the edge against both Mitchell Schwartz and Parker Ehinger. Both guys are fighting for the same roster spot most likely but show the most bend around the edge on the roster.
  • Xavier Williams added to his strong Week 1 game and had some good reps moving Mitch Morse backward quickly before discarding him.
  • Eric Fisher was able to stonewall Breeland Speaks frequently. Speaks is still working on adding pass rush moves to his arsenal.
  • Parker Ehinger saw the vast majority of his reps at right tackle and needs to continue to work on getting depth on his drive-catch phase or he’ll struggle to defend the edge.
  • Chris Jones was having a blast talking smack the entire time to the offensive line, while also giving pointers and encouragement to the younger defensive line guys. Jones appears to be trying to take on more of a leadership role in the DL room this year, which is great.

Craig Stout

  • The Chiefs played in press-man coverage all day, so those worried about Bob Sutton’s alignments need not worry. From the first through the third team, the Chiefs pressed with all three cornerbacks and with their box safety for the majority of the practice.
  • After a great performance in Thursday’s preseason opener, undrafted rookie free agent Ben Niemann was still in with the third team. Rookie Dorian O’Daniel got some work early on with the safety group but was mostly relegated to third-team linebacker.
  • The Chiefs’ safeties showed some flexibility in their alignment, with Eric Murray following Travis Kelce in early team work with Eric Berry deep. Later on, Berry swapped and followed Kelce around. For the majority of 2017, Sutton would keep his safeties on one side of the field and roll them down into the box when the tight end would line up on that side of the field. We saw this a little bit in Week 1 of last year against the New England Patriots with Berry following Rob Gronkowski, but it’s encouraging to see other safeties also get those looks in the nickel

Matt Stagner

  • I was struck by the development of Tanoh Kpassagnon. It looks like he’s got more than enough quickness and burst off the snap, and he’s clearly been working on using his hands and length to his advantage. Breeland Speaks doesn’t have quite the same quickness, but his hand usage stood out as well. Perhaps there’s an impact from the new positional focus with outside linebackers coach Mike Smith.
  • Tight end Alex Ellis stood out as a pass catcher, making several plays in team sessions. He’s one to watch in the competition for depth behind Travis Kelce.
  • The quarterbacks all had good days, I didn’t notice any interceptions by the Chiefs defensive backs, but plenty of well-thrown passes down the field. Chase Litton was impressive, and should absolutely be the favorite for the No. 3/developmental QB job. Chad Henne made some plays as well, but there is a clear difference in speed, sound and placement from Mahomes’ passes.
  • There’s a pop when the ball hits a receiver’s hands on a pass from Mahomes that you don’t hear from others. His ball placement was often spectacular, which is a trait we noticed even in his college film. One play, in particular, had the Arrowhead Pride staff flabbergasted: Mahomes went to a sidearm/submarine delivery to throw across the middle of the field, hitting a receiver in stride with velocity. It was nothing any of us have seen before.

Gary McKenzie

  • Sammy Watkins had a difficult day at practice after dropping two deep throws from Mahomes down the sidelines. One went through Watkins’ hands and the other bounced off his hands. This is rare territory for Watkins, as he’s typically sure-handed. The positive is that Mahomes is finding a connection with Watkins that should play out during the regular season.
  • Even with those two drops, Mahomes went 15/19 and threw no interceptions while making several spectacular throws.
  • Reid had to give Harrison Butker the business again at the end of practice. Butker had a difficult run going 2/4 kicking 48-yard field goals. Earlier in practice, Butker hit a 50-yarder, and then a 55-yarder, so not all was bad for Butker.
  • Tremon Smith worked punt returns and I was very impressed with his speed and ability to cut upfield. He could carve a role in 2018 as a kick returner and he may surprise some people.