In fact, that may be the biggest reason everyone seems to want to play in Kansas City: the unique combination of an innovative players’ coach in Andy Reid and quarterback Patrick Mahomes, whose record-setting debut as the starter portends postseason success for years to come.
”They’ve got a good ball club and the best offense in the league,” said Claiborne, a former first-round draft pick who signed a $3 million deal late last week.
The beauty of that mindset among players, at least from the Chiefs’ perspective, is that it creates a snowball effect. Top players want to play for a good team, making a good team even better.
Some Chiefs who didn’t play in the opener against the Bengals could see action Saturday. Defensive end Frank Clark returned to practice on Monday. So did Alex Okafor, although he didn’t finish the workout. Running back Damien Williams was back and running with the first team, although Andy Reid has said there will be a committee approach to the position.
Looking to follow up on nice debuts are rookies Mecole Hardman and running back Darwin Thompson. Each turned on the jets to get into the end zone against the Bengals. Look for the No. 2 tight end battle between Deon Yelder and Blake Bell to continue.
Newly acquired Morris Claiborne won’t play this week, Reid said.
“There’s no question about his desire,” Veach said. “He’s one of the toughest guys on our offense. He just has to make sure he knows that wanting to be that guy on the field, there’s another part to that. So I’d say when he has his helmet on, he’s ready for this. When he takes it off, that’s when he’s going to have to grow. To go through the violence and the amount of hits he’s going to take, it’s a lot different than what he’s used to.”
The Chiefs have alternatives. They signed veteran Carlos Hyde, who was the starter in Williams’ absence. They brought back Darrel Williams from last season. They drafted Darwin Thompson, who has played well in camp and in the preseason game against the Bengals (five rushes for 22 yards, one catch for 29 yards and a TD).
Demetrius Harris vacated the No. 2 role in favor of an offseason agreement with the Browns. He averaged 30 targets per season over the last three years and caught three touchdown passes in 2018.
It’s not light work, in other words. In fact, for much of 2018, Kelce and Harris were the lone tight ends on the 53-man roster. Yelder played seven snaps over the middle of the season. Bell, nicknamed the “Belldozer,” has the most career experience among the bunch, with 30 career receptions in four years split among the 49ers, Vikings and Jaguars.
Kansas City Chiefs WR Mecole Hardman
For anyone wondering if the Kansas City Chiefs didn’t have a plan in mind during the Tyreek Hill investigation, that was answered Saturday. Drafted out of Georgia, Mecole Hardman was highly praised for his speed and agility in the open field.
And he showed it was more than just a trait he possessed against below-average cornerbacks in the SEC. Hardman finished the night with 2 receptions for 31 yards. On his second catch, the former Bulldog turned on the jets and went untouched 17 yards for the score.
Imagine Patrick Mahomes with now Hill, Hardman, Sammy Watkins and Travis Kelce along with one of the best offensive lines in football. Can you smell AFC Championship? You should because the addition of Hardman is just unfair.
Colin Cowherd: “In the last three years there have been 11 quarterbacks drafted early: Kyler Murray, Daniel Jones, Dwayne Haskins, Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Josh Rosen, Lamar Jackson, Mitch Trubisky, Deshaun Watson, Patrick Mahomes… There are two that I LOVE. Over the next 12 years Mahomes will be the best over all those quarterbacks and Darnold two. The last four games of last year Pro Football Focus rated Sam Darnold the highest rated quarterback in the league, with NOTHING to work with, and was the youngest Week 1 starter since the NFL and AFL merged. He’s a BABY. Mahomes is the best buy and Darnold is second.”
Draft Bad Buys
The good news is that Williams is back at practice and running with the first team. The bad news is that Darwin Thompson flashed in the first preseason game and Andy Reid is now talking about RBBC. While it’s probably foolish to make too much out of coachspeak, it was coachspeak that got us excited about the prospect of Williams as a feature back in the first place. The upside is too high to let Williams fall past the start of the fourth round, but the risk is too high to take him at the end of the second.
Around the league
Now that he’s back, attention will return to Brown’s frostbitten feet. How soon he will actually hit the practice will depend on the recovery timetable.
NFL Network’s Michael Silver noted in his reporting about the helmet issue that the headwear grievance had more to do with keeping Brown off the practice field than the foot trouble. If Brown reports to the Raiders and is right back at practice, you could take that as confirmation.
Any work Brown is able to get in during the remaining training camp practices and preseason is a bonus. At this point, he appears set to be ready for Week 1, which was always the goal.
Mara reiterated Tuesday what head coach Pat Shurmur has said on multiple occasions: “Eli is our starting quarterback.”
”I hope Eli has a great year and Daniel never sees the field,” Mara said. “That would be, in an ideal word, you’d like to see that. At the end of the day that is going to be a decision by the head coach as to when, or if, Daniel ends up playing this year.”
1) Los Angeles Chargers
Back in May, I boldly predicted that the Chargers would have the best defense in the NFL in 2019. I’m only feeling bolder about that now, thanks in no small part to the presence of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, who will form the league’s premier 1-2 quarterback-sacking punch. Bosa has 28.5 sacks in his first 35 NFL games, more than players like Aaron Donald (20), Chandler Jones (20) and Khalil Mack (19) managed in the same span in their careers. And while Bosa has been dogged by injuries, Ingram has been as reliable as they come, starting all 16 games and averaging nine sacks per season since 2015. With Bosa back to full health, well, it’s safe to say that life is going to be difficult for anyone lining up under center across from the Bolts.
This is especially true when you consider the coverage opposing quarterbacks will be facing, with stud safety Derwin James leading a stellar defensive backfield. As a rookie, James -- universally lauded as a steal at 17th overall in the 2018 NFL Draft -- finished the season as Pro Football Focus’ third-highest-graded safety in pass coverage; as a second-year pro, James will become entrenched as a star. Now take into account new additions like promising rookie defensive tackle Jerry Tillery and savvy veteran linebacker Thomas Davis, who has gas in the tank in addition to serving as a quality leader, and it’s clear that coordinator Gus Bradley’s group is primed for a monster season.
It’ll come down to longevity
Brady is 42 now. Brees is 40.
They’re both at the age when most other quarterbacks are retired, or at the very least, on the decline. The touchdown record will ultimately wind up with whichever quarterback can keep denying Father Time the longest.
First, it was the record store. Now, Vic Fangio is tearing down the barbershop.
Almost a month after banning music from training camp, the first-year Denver Broncos coach took to the podium Tuesday and declared yet another change for his players to abide by. His latest decree? Doing away with the long-running tradition of crazy rookie haircuts.
”I just don’t think it’s right. I just don’t believe in hazing,” Fangio said, via The Athletic’s Nicki Jhabvala. “There are traditions that stay put. Guys are getting up in front of the team and doing a little skit every night. Maybe a rookie’s carrying somebody’s pads off the field and so on, or bringing in the doughnuts or the breakfast. But nothing physical.”
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Toub also spoke of the effort he got from wide receiver Byron Pringle in his 50-yard kickoff return on Saturday.
”His kickoff return in the game — that was impressive,” Toub said. “He hit that thing hard. He was hungry. He wanted to get a touchdown, and he almost popped it. But he’s coming on. For me — as a special teams player — he’s right where he needs to be.”
Last week, Toub wasn’t asked about one of his core special teams players in 2018: wide receiver Marcus Kemp. But he was asked on Tuesday — and based on Toub said, Kemp might be transitioning to offense.
”He was a high-level player for us last year,” Toub said. “He was a starting gunner and made plays all year long. I feel really good about him going forward. I think where he’s really stepped up now is on offense. He’s starting to make a lot more plays on offense — and that’s a good thing, because the offensive coaches feel comfortable about him. He’s in a good place. They feel comfortable, and I feel comfortable. He keeps doing well.”
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