We’re less than a week away from rookies, Patrick Mahomes and the rest of the quarterbacks reporting for training camp. The long wait for football is coming to a close.
This week, we did things a little bit differently on the AP Laboratory podcast. We decided to do one giant camp preview with five questions on offense and defense heading into camp. We started with the offense.
How does the Tyreek Hill saga play out?
We should be nearing the Commissioner’s decision on any potential suspension for Hill. I expect him to be in St. Joseph to join the team for the entirety of camp. I’m interested to see how it’s covered both locally and nationally — and expect it to be discussed for the duration of the season.
On the field, Hill's impact is significant. I expect him to take a step forward in his growth as a receiver. It should be evident next time we see him with a helmet on.
Who is going to play at wide receiver?
Hill and Sammy Watkins have established themselves in this offense. The roles beyond that are a little more up in the air, but there are some early front runners.
With the departure of Chris Conley, Demarcus Robinson is likely to earn a more expanded role. Gehrig Dieter has shown some ability on special teams and in very limited opportunities on offense. Both Dieter and Robinson have good rapport with Mahomes.
Mecole Hardman is a lock to make the roster, but how fast he can master Andy Reid’s offensive playbook — and earn the trust of Mahomes — will determine when and how he’ll be utilized beyond special teams.
Byron Pringle showed loads of promise in the preseason last year but had his season cut short with injury. There are several UDFA receivers, too — starting with Toledo receiver and excellent special-teamer Cody Thompson. Others include Jamal Custis and Felton Davis. There’s a lot of talent in the most intense position battle in camp.
Who is TE2 behind Travis Kelce?
Due to his offseason ankle surgery, Kelce hasn’t been able to participate at all during offseason workouts. While I expect him to be ready to go, there’s still plenty of questions about the rest of the group.
Deon Yelder was acquired mid-season last year and earned the Andy Reid’s praise during minicamp. Wichita, Kansas product Blake Bell signed a one-year deal with the Chiefs to vie for an opportunity in one of the most explosive offenses in football. UDFA John Lovett has turned some heads in his transition from Ivy League quarterback to more of an H-Back role in the NFL. How it shakes out will be interesting.
Who plays on the interior of the offensive line?
There are three Brett Veach acquisitions battling for two spots on the interior of the offensive line. Left guard and center are the two least settled spots of the group.
The favorite at center is Austin Reiter, whom Veach picked up on waivers last year and signed to a extension later in the season. The Chiefs Mack Lee Hill award winner for the best first-year player last season was Andrew Wylie. After having a great first season in Kansas City where he went from from reserve contract to starter, he is favored to start at left guard. Cameron Erving is starting his third season for the Chiefs and could very easily be in the mix at either spot.
Two of these three will start. I am leaning towards Wylie and Reiter if we see good things from them during July and August.
Can Damien Williams carry the load?
After starting last season on special teams, Williams stepped up in a big way after the release of Kareem Hunt. He wound up starting down the stretch of the season, replacing Hunt admirably by putting together some great games.
That said, Hunt was a special player and proved to be able handle a full season of usage. Can we expect a consistent performance for full season from Williams? Carlos Hyde and Darrel “The Barrel” Williams are here to help. I don’t expect a committee, but I could see Hyde eating in to Williams’ touches just a little bit to keep everyone fresh for what the Chiefs hope is a 19-game season.
We went in-depth on both sides of the ball in this week’s episode of the AP Laboratory.