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Chiefs training camp notebook: Early camp signs point to dominant season ahead for Tyreek Hill

Everybody is talking about how Patrick Mahomes has improved, but Tyreek Hill has come back looking better than ever, too.

Earlier this week, the Kansas City Chiefs faced a bit of a scare. During a team period, cornerback Bashaud Breeland did not see wide receiver Tyreek Hill as he played the ball.

The two collided, and Hill limped off the field.

“Man, I didn’t even see him in my line of fire,” Breeland said as he described the play. “I was just going to make a play on the ball. It’s unfortunate that we had [that] type of collision because he’s a vital piece of this team. It wasn’t intentional in no way, shape or form. It’s just football — you get some nicks and bruises sometimes, but I’m just glad he’s able to come back from it.”

The fortunate news for the Chiefs was that Hill only suffered a quad contusion, and he returned to the practice field on Friday. Day by day, it becomes more apparent that Hill’s health will be critical to how this upcoming season goes for the Chiefs.

The Patrick Mahomes-to-Hill deep-ball connection might be the story of training camp to this point—based on their chemistry, you’d never know that Hill missed any time at all.

“That’s what we’re here for—try to push the ball downfield,” Mahomes explained. “Especially in this training camp, you want to try to take advantages of those deep shots and get that timing down, and I feel like we connected on those [Friday], and we’re going to keep working on that.”

Hill made several impressive catches from Mahomes on Friday, highlighted by a 60-yard touchdown over the head of safety Armani Watts.

“Every time you take that shot and you connect, when you’re playing NFL defenses, that’s what they’re trying to prevent,” Mahomes said. “And they’re doing everything they can to try and prevent those plays and so you get limited chances, so whenever you take that chance, you want to make sure you connect on it.”

The Chiefs defenders have noticed just how strong Hill has looked in his return to the club.

“He’s been looking good,” cornerback Kendall Fuller said. “We definitely want to get him back onto the field, especially him being out, but he’s definitely been looking good — fun to go against. Just gives you a different type of guy to line up against in practice.

“I love the different receivers we got, different skill sets and things like that, so being able to go from Tyreek to Sammy to D-Rob to Dieter, it’s just getting different types of feels of receivers every day in practice has definitely been helpful for us.”

And to Fuller’s point, Mahomes mixes them all in.

“Not just Tyreek, but with Demarcus Robinson, Sammy Watkins, Mecole Hardman, all those receivers,” he said. “We’re going to continue to push the ball downfield and connect on those deep plays, so whenever the season comes, we connect then.”

Compared to last year’s training camp, Mahomes has thrown far less interceptions and looks to be improved on both intermediate passes and the aforementioned long balls. He admits this year’s Chiefs defense poses a greater challenge, yet he still manages to get the best of them for huge gains a handful of times per practice.

Hill’s presence plays a significant role in that, and if the early signs are any indication, he should easily repeat as a top-five player in receiving yards in 2019.

Observations (via defensive film analyst Craig Stout, who attended practice)

  • Patrick Mahomes to Tyreek Hill is unstoppable right now. The chemistry between the two players is unbelievable, with one particular rainbow to the back of the end zone before Hill had even broken out of his route. The players are connecting even better than they did last year, and it’s paying dividends so far in camp.
  • Mecole Hardman easily had his best day of camp this far. While the deep throw by Mahomes will grab the headlines, I was most impressed by a grab he had in traffic over cornerback Rashad Fenton. He had to climb the ladder to haul it in and showcased more than just speed on the day.
  • Steve Spagnuolo worked on dime looks early in practice, with three safeties on the field. Juan Thornhill got deep reps in Cover 3 with Dan Sorensen and Tyrann Mathieu as Apex defenders. Later on, Spagnuolo relied more on split safety looks with Sorensen and Mathieu.
  • Damien Wilson showed good bend off the edge in rush reps, and held his own in coverage on the day. He added plenty to a linebacking corps that is playing significantly faster than they did last year, stalling the offense often in 9-on-7s.
  • Darwin Thompson is slippery. He showed multiple instances of eluding would-be tacklers and bouncing the run to the outside. With his pass-catching ability, he could be primed for a bigger-than-expected role in this offense.
  • Rookie Nick Allegretti has taken hold of the second team center position, and he looks good there. He was solid in blitz pickup and was able to blow open some holes in 9-on-7s.
  • Even though the receivers were the major story again, the cornerbacks had some positive flashes. Charvarius Ward had a couple good reps to take away routes and break up a pass. Bashaud Breeland — who missed some time in the medical tent — had good positioning for most of the day. The throws that were completed over those two were generally great throws, rather than bad coverage.

Injury report

Wide receiver Tyreek Hill (quad) and offensive lineman Mitch Schwartz returned to practice on Friday. We have our full injury report from the workout here.

Tweets of note

Quote of the day

Patrick Mahomes on his thought process behind the taste of his new cereal, Mahomes Magic Crunch: “Yeah. I like frosted flakes, so I told them to make it as close to frosted flakes as they could, so they did it, and it’s a little bit healthier—less sugar, so I’m excited that it’s that, too, so I’ll be able to eat it a little bit here during the season.”

What’s next?

The Chiefs resume practice Saturday in St. Joseph at 8:15 a.m. Arrowhead Time. It is Family Fun Day, which includes a $5 admission fee. Head coach Andy Reid will speak to the media after the workout.

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