Rumors of delayed starts to training camps and shortened preseasons are being reported — but during Wednesday’s press conference, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid had a pretty straightforward response to them.
“I’ll do anything that we have to do,” said Reid. “I want to make sure people are safe — I think we all do, right? We want to make sure that there’s no repercussions; we’re in a time of change with the COVID-19.”
Translation: The Chiefs are ready for any scenario that the NFL decides to throw at them. Whether the schedule gets shortened, lengthened or delayed, Reid is confident he’ll be able to navigate the ship.
“They haven’t given us anything on start date or not, other than what was the start date before,” Reid said. “So rookies in on [July] 22nd — or you can bring them in a little bit earlier, I guess. You mention that we have this new CBA, so I’ve gone through with training camp and I put together — along with [offensive coordinator] Eric Bieniemy, [defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo] and [special teams coordinator Dave] Toub — a regular training camp. With flexibility, if we have to go a different direction, we can do it.”
While NFL coaching staffs are now in team facilities, players are not. It’s been up to each individual to hold themselves accountable and work out — whether alone or with their teammates. Safety Tyrann Mathieu has kept himself so ready that he didn’t even let his mind embrace the offseason.
“I don’t think I ever checked out,” Mathieu admitted. “I’m still like in football mode — and I think that’s a good thing for me. So it doesn’t matter when we start. I’m going to be ready to roll. I’m excited about it.”
Quarterback also Patrick Mahomes feels like he’s prepared. The soon-to-be 25-year-old hasn’t shied away from enjoying and celebrating an offseason as a Super Bowl champion, but he knows the season is coming.
“On the field, I feel like I’ve been staying in pretty great shape,” Mahomes said. “Obviously we haven’t been at practice and doing those things, but as of right now, it looks like we’re on the right track to get there and be in training camp. I’ve been throwing with guys, I’ve been working out with guys [and] I’ve been doing anything I can to stay ready.”
Without in-person meetings, it’s easy for players to feel uncomfortable about evaluating how much better the team has improved in the offseason. It’s also possible that current events could be affecting players’ morale. But Mathieu — one of the true leaders on the Chiefs — is holding his teammates to high standards.
“I think we’ve actually gotten a little bit better,” he said. “I think we got a little smarter, so hopefully most guys have been using this time to make sure their bodies are right, making sure their mind’s right, because we have gone through a lot these last couple months. To go through football season is going to take great leadership — great accountability — from everybody.”
Mathieu also hinted at how the Chiefs’ continuity could give them a leg up on the league this fall.
“There’s going to be a lot on a lot of people’s minds. I think us — as a team — gotta be able to use that as our advantage. We gotta be able to lock in — really be there for each other.”
The Chiefs are winding down their virtual offseason program next week. After that, the team will be on a summer break until the start of training camp. Whenever they get to that point, Reid will make sure they have prepared for anything that’s thrown at them.
“We’re ready to roll,” Reid declared. “By the time we leave, we’ll have it completely set — and if they give us new rules, then we can change as we go. But right now, we’re full-fledged on. I’m sure there will be different hurdles to cross, but we’ll be ready.”
Even if fans can’t attend training camp, it will be a much-welcomed stepping stone to the season getting underway — something on which NFL teams (and their fans) can agree..
“I miss football,” Mathieu said. “It’s been too long.”
Us too, Tyrann. Us, too.