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Chiefs headlines for Thursday, August 22

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs-Patrick Mahomes Press Conference Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

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2017 NFL Draft revisited: Grades for first-rounders two years in | NFL.com

10. Patrick Mahomes - QB

Grade: A+ | School: Texas Tech Where Ross’ career stalled before it ever got out of the gate, Mahomes’ has gone better than anything Andy Reid could’ve ever drawn up. The young passer had the opportunity to learn and develop his skills on a playoff team led by a veteran quarterback playing at the height of his powers. When given the keys to Arrowhead Stadium in his second season, Mahomes balled out, producing a 5,000-yard, 50-touchdown campaign that earned him an MVP award and helped propel the Chiefs to their first Championship Sunday appearance in 25 years. Mahomes’ numbers will almost certainly regress in Year 3. And yet, he might still finish the season as the NFL’s best quarterback. He has all the necessary traits, all the offensive weapons and a head coach who consistently crafts unique and creative game plans. Hard to see anything other than a video game curse standing in the way of another monster season for No. 15.

2019 NFL preseason: Each team’s most promising rookie(s) | NFL.com

Kansas City Chiefs: Already the NFL’s most dangerous big-play offense, the Chiefs added even more speed and explosiveness in second-round receiver Mecole Hardman, who has flashed angle-beating speed on scoring plays in back-to-back weeks. Not to be outdone, sixth-round scatback Darwin Thompson has showcased an intriguing dual-threat skill set that might just push veteran Carlos Hyde off the roster. On the other side of the ball, ballhawking safety Juan Thornhill has been a camp sensation in his own right.

NFL preseason takeaways: What we learned from AFC West in Week 2 | NBC Sports

I talked last week about how absurd it is the Chiefs were able to add rookie Mecole Hardman to an offense that already includes Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce and Sammy Watkins, not to forget reigning NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes.

We all know it was the other side of the ball that held Kansas City back last season and kept the Chiefs from knocking off the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game.

During the offseason, head coach Andy Reid sent defensive coordinator Bob Sutton packing and hired Steve Spagnuolo to bulk up the unit. The scheme change from a 3-4 to a 4-3 appears to already be getting more out of defensive end Breeland Speaks, who was playing at outside linebacker by Sutton last season where he was tasked more with covering running backs than getting after the quarterback, something he was quite good at while playing at Ole Miss.

Speaks has looked much more engaged while playing defensive end in the preseason. He picked up a sack in the Chiefs’ first game before spraining his knee in their loss to the Steelers. It looks like he shouldn’t miss much regular-season time, and his evolution shows the change to Spagnuolo’s scheme might be paying off.

Rashaad Penny among RB2s who deserve more touches in 2019 | NFL.com

Carlos Hyde, Kansas City Chiefs: Damien Williams is the current leader in the clubhouse for the RB1 job, and he’s followed on the depth chart by Hyde, Darrel Williams and rookie Darwin Thompson. Coach Andy Reid has suggested his offense could feature a running-back-by-committee approach, so look for Hyde to get a lot of opportunities as a physical runner, especially in short-yardage situations and at the goal line. Hyde has also proven to be an asset in the pass game (during his days with the 49ers). The potential is there for Hyde to be a playmaker for the Chiefs’ offense, and I see him accumulating more reps as the season progresses.

Now is the perfect time for Tanoh Kpassagnon to become who the Chiefs drafted him to be | SB Nation

With a new coaching staff, a new scheme, and an open starting defensive end spot just waiting to be claimed, Tanoh Kpassagnon couldn’t have hoped for a better chance to turn his career this season. With as much talent as he has flashed over the years, and with as many physical gifts as he has been blessed with, I do believe this is the perfect time for Kpassagnon to blossom into the player he was originally drafted to be.

He actually reminds me a bit of Danielle Hunter physically, and the truth is while I’m not predicting Kpassagnon will put up numbers similar to Hunter’s, I do believe that he can make a lot of the same kind of plays.

NFL players who could become salary cap casualties before the season | Washington Post

Kansas City Chiefs safety Daniel Sorensen: The Chiefs love Sorenson, but they have to keep looking down the road to free up salary cap room for some of their best young players, such as Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill and Chris Jones. Rookie Josh Thornhill is winning over defensive coordinator Steve Spagnoula and could end up starting at the safety spot next to Tyrann Mathieu — making Sorensen a $4 million backup for the next couple of years. Moving him would free up around $2.7 million on the salary cap. He has two years left on a four-year, $16 million contract.

The Chiefs’ Starting Defensive Ends Are Rounding Into Form | Forbes

The Chiefs have high expectation for Okafor too. It’s why they signed him to a three-year, $17.9 million contract with $11.5 million guaranteed, including a $6 million bonus.

Clark, though, was the premium acquisition, someone general manager Brett Veach admitted he tailored his whole offseason plan around, and that meant trading linebacker Dee Ford to the San Francisco 49ers and releasing linebacker Justin Houston in order to accumulate the assets and cap space for Clark.

Carlos Hyde’s Spot in Jeopardy | Yahoo Sports

The Athletic’s Nate Taylor has left Hyde off his 53-man roster projection each of the last two weeks. Hyde has a measly 25 yards on seven carries (3.6 YPC) with one touchdown and one fumble. Hyde ran with the first-team offense this past weekend in Pittsburgh but fumbled on his lone series with that group. And despite his 6’/229 frame, Hyde has forced exactly zero missed tackles. He’s a slug and turns 29 next month. Hyde is nearing the end of the line already. The fact that he doesn’t play special teams is also working against him. Coach Andy Reid talked Hyde up earlier this month, but he’s since moved that hype to Thompson. We’ve seen Hyde going in the middle rounds of fantasy drafts, but the entire appeal there was Hyde actually making the team and having a role in this explosive offense. If he doesn’t even make it to Week 1, his value is obviously zero. Hyde has become too risky to even consider before the end of drafts. He needs to have a big third preseason game, and that may not even be enough.

Fantasy Football: 32 Bold Predictions for the 2019 NFL Season | SI.com

Kansas City Chiefs: RB Darwin Thompson becomes the third-down receiving back for the Chiefs, catching 50 passes this season.

Around the league

Melvin Gordon holdout expected to carry into season | NFL.com

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported that Gordon’s holdout is expected to continue into the season, per sources informed of the situation.

Rapoport added that contract talks have not progressed as the running back hoped, and he’ll continue to train elsewhere for the foreseeable future.

Gordon, set to make $5.6 million in 2019, wants a deal that places him among the top running backs. Rapoport previously reported that the Chargers offered a deal worth $10 million per season and weren’t willing to go higher. At this point, Gordon has rebuffed that offer.

Earlier this week, Gordon told ESPN he was “waiting on the call” from the Chargers. It appears he’ll be waiting longer.

XFL reveals names, logos for its eight teams | ESPN

“We’re anxiously awaiting the Labor Day cuts that will take place where there will be another group of players available,’’ commissioner Oliver Luck said. “Things have gone as well as expected.’’

Next up will be finalizing and publicizing a rulebook that the league says will offer a reimagined game of football, including unique extra points, a modified setup for overtime and a shorter play clock to accelerate game tempo.

A draft is scheduled for October, followed by a minicamp in December and training camp in January 2020.

In case you missed it at Arrowhead Pride

Charvarius Ward and Herb Miller are battling for a starting cornerback role

Most thought that Charvarius Ward was the clear leader to start for at least the first four weeks of the season. That still might be the case, but Herb Miller’s snaps this week show that Steve Spagnuolo isn’t done tinkering with the lineup just yet.

Ward’s length and straight-line speed are going to be key on the boundary, as it gives Spagnuolo a cornerback he can trust to carry a receiver vertically down the field. However, Ward’s struggles with clicking and closing downhill to the receiver are going to limit what types of schemes Spagnuolo can run.

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