The two most significant stories surrounding the Kansas City Chiefs this offseason involved wide receiver Tyreek Hill and defensive tackle Chris Jones — Hill and his often-discussed, highly-debated (criminal and league) investigations regarding potential child abuse and Jones holding out of all offseason workouts, including three days of mandatory minicamp, as he pursued a new contract.
Over the last two Fridays, both stories added fresh, long-awaited chapters. First, the NFL announced it would not suspend Hill for the 2019 season, concluding he did not violate the league’s personal conduct policy. Then Jones decided he would show up to training camp.
And on Saturday, in what seemed downright implausible at times over the past six months, they were both on the practice field for the Chiefs’ first full-team workout of training camp.
Chiefs owner Clark Hunt spoke to reporters about Hill following the practice.
“With [the Hill situation] happening in the offseason, we were able to take the time for the NFL to conduct its investigation and for them to make a decision on his status,” Hunt explained. “That allowed us to sit back and wait for that investigation to be closed. We were able to get some information from the league in terms of what they learned and that put us in a position where we could make the decision to have him back on the team.”
Hunt was asked about the now-infamous audio recording of Hill and how he had said he was “deeply disturbed” by it just a few months ago.
“Hearing the entire tape put it in context,” Hunt said. “At the same time, I would say my statement at the time stands. I thought there was some inappropriate language in that tape and I’m sure Tyreek wishes he could have it back.”
Hunt added the team had never considered suspending Hill, and the two recently had the opportunity to talk.
“I had a good visit with him earlier this week,” Hunt said. “I’m not going to get into the details of that conversation, but it was a very frank conversation. Talking to him about his responsibility as he comes back to be a Kansas City Chief.”
Hill walked down the slope on the campus of Missouri Western State University to chants of “Tyreek” and received a loud ovation once he hit the practice field. When it came to chemistry and rapport with Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, it appeared as if he had never left.
“He is someone who has a lot of energy and someone who comes with that spirit every day of getting better,” Mahomes said. “You want guys like that on the field that are going to keep pushing each other and pushing their teammates to get better every day.”
Chiefs head coach Andy Reid liked what he saw from the wide receiver on his first day back with the team.
“He did a nice job,” Reid said of Hill. “These guys just got done with this run that is a little bit of a son of a gun. But to come out and do what they did, Tyreek and the rest of those receivers, that is a big thing. We had some deep balls and he had a few of the them and had to go get them, and he got them. That’s a good thing.”
Jones returned to the team Saturday after skipping offseason workouts in hopes of obtaining a new contract. Jones received a similar ovation to Hill when he took the field, and rather then running right to his warmup position, he went to the crowd, sidestepping as he slapped hands with fans all along the two-field-long guard rail.
“It was good to have him back,” Reid said. “He worked hard. He tested well this morning and then he came out and did this well, so he’s been working.”
“It’s great to get Chris back,” Mahomes added. “He is such a high-energy guy. Someone that comes to work every single day and so for us to get us and have him out there and building that chemistry with that D-line with a lot of new faces but a lot of really good players. So I’m excited for their future and building together and what they can do on the field.”
According to NFL Network’s Jeff Chadiha on Friday, the Jones’ representation and the Chiefs still remain about $21 million in guaranteed money apart.
“Those [contract] discussions will take place here in the coming weeks and coming months,” Hunt said when asked about Jones. “We would sure like to have Chris be part of the team from a long-term standpoint, but there are a lot of considerations that go into that.”
Hunt said that the Chiefs feel “delighted” to have Chris as a member of the 2019 club.
“He’s been such an important part of the team over the last three years,” he said. “Obviously, he had a breakout season last year. We’re glad that he made the decision to be here. I think it’s important for him to be here with the new defensive coaches, the new scheme, the new defensive players so that he can figure out his role in it.”
There is always a chance that the Chiefs and Jones could work something out, but based upon ESPN’s Adam Schefter’s direct citing of his agents in a tweet Friday, it sure seems like Jones will bet on himself this year with unrestricted free agency looming.
1st day of camp let’s gooooooooo!!!!!— Chris Jones (@stonecoldjones_) July 27, 2019
15– 1/2’s easy work....
At least on day one, that didn’t seem like it would be much of a problem.
Observations (via lead film analyst Kent Swanson, who attended practice)
- The Patrick Mahomes-to-Tyreek Hill connection looked better than it ever has. They connected on several big plays today, including a beautiful deep ball that Hill ran under. Those kinds of plays didn’t connect enough last year, and consistency on those kinds of plays unlocks this duo to another level.
- Sammy Watkins looked excellent Saturday, showing strong hands and ability with the ball in his grasp. As we mentioned a few weeks ago on the AP Laboratory, finding ways to use his strength and contact balance can help add easy yards and productivity to move the chains.
- It was a revolving door at the TE2 spot today, with Deon Yelder, Blake Bell and David Wells getting opportunities.
- If it were anywhere else, Rashard Davis would be getting serious 53-man roster buzz with how he looked today. He made some excellent catches over his shoulder and diving.
- Mecole Hardman had some struggles catching kicks in special teams today. However, watching him stride out sprinting looks different than just about everyone else in camp. The speed is as advertised.
- Byron Pringle and Deon Yelder each made a couple nice catches.
- Steve Spagnuolo is here to work, and he’s holding his group to high standards. He was loud and in charge and could be heard during team takeoff.
- Chris Jones looked more like Emmanuel Ogbah than he did Xavier Williams when it came to his figure, but he did indeed line up inside. Next to him (surprisingly) was Williams. Jones was having some issues getting lined up in the right alignment early. He has some catching up to do.
- Jones will also have some catching up to do when it comes to conditioning. While the workout videos were encouraging and he looks great, his football conditioning was the worst on the entire team. He was visibly exhausted for most of practice, was the only defensive player taking a knee and was laying down during team stretch and had to walk to the full team huddle at the end of practice. He hasn’t done football-related activities like the rest of the team has, and it showed. He’ll certainly get back up to speed, but it was noticeable.
- The cornerback group didn’t show much to be excited about in day one. Charvarius Ward had a rough day, failing to turn and locate a deep throw and struggling to transition in underneath coverage. Bashaud Breeland left early with a laceration.
- The bright spot of the cornerback group was second-year player D’Montre Wade, who spent 2018 on the practice squad. He intercepted Chase Litton deep and got some run with the ones during Saturday’s practice. Wade and Keith Reaser traded reps when Bashaud Breeland left early due to injury.
- Damien Wilson made a diving breakup in coverage against Kyle Shurmur. It wasn’t all great in coverage though, as he gave up a catch in the middle of the field to Blake Bell later in the day.
- Dan Sorensen got the reps at safety with the first team.
Tweets of note
Chiefs open up the first practice stretching to the Lion King, Circle of Life. And there’s not even a simba cam happening— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) July 27, 2019
Interesting change to the starting lineup at corner back. Charivarius Ward is in for Kendall Fuller, who came in when the Chiefs went to the nickel.— Adam Teicher (@adamteicher) July 27, 2019
It’s been well documented that Mahomes practices the ‘tricks,’ and it’s true. https://t.co/QfG6fMxGJr— Pete Sweeney (@pgsween) July 27, 2019
Quote of the day
Andy Reid, when old friend BJ Kissel (Chiefs dot com) said the media wouldn’t speak to him until Monday: “I’m really sad about that, BJ.”
The Chiefs will practice at 8:15 a.m. Arrowhead Time on Sunday leading into the first padded practice of training camp on Monday. The first training camp day off is scheduled for this Thursday.