On Thursday, Kansas City Chiefs right tackle Mitchell Schwartz said that while the truncated offseason schedule will present some challenges, he believes that how training camp has shaped up will make it all work out.
“You’re always worried about change-of-direction stuff,” he explained. “You can be in good shape or great shape, but you’re never really in football shape until you’re playing football. So you kind of get into football shape during OTAs; we have to catch back up a little bit on that. I know the schedule allows us a few of those types of practices before camp.”
Schwartz has it right.
In its modified form, the first couple of weeks of training camp consist of a somewhat modified version of what teams normally do during spring OTAs — weight room work, on-field conditioning and some walkthroughs, slowly transitioning into full padded practices on August 14.
“Now we’ve got two and a half weeks until we practice — or whatever it is — and then that first practice is only an hour and a half,” said Schwartz. “I think the ramp-up is going to be a really good thing for us. I know [Chiefs vice president of sports medicine] Rick Burkholder always kind of cutting edge in terms of the science and knowing what we need.
“You don’t necessarily get the feel for things until you’re in pads anyway. I’m pretty sure we have as many padded practices as we normally would. They might not all be the same length as they used to be — whether that’s COVID-19 or the new CBA rules — [but] I think we’re going to have a pretty good amount of practice.”
Right guard Laurent Duvernay’s decision to opt out of the 2020 season will obviously affect things on the offensive line — but now entering his fifth season with the Chiefs, Schwartz expressed confidence in the coaching staff to make things work.
“In terms of new guys, we have guys who have been here — and a couple of new guys. That’s something that [offensive line] coach Andy Heck has been extremely good with in terms of moving people around — and making sure that throughout training camp and the practice time, he’s cross-training as many people as possible, so that when you inevitably do have guys get hurt or something happens, you’re not playing next to someone that you’ve never played with before.
“We’ve seen offensive linemen get injured every year,” said Schwartz. “It could be one, it could be five. They’ve always had really good depth here, and that’s what’s allowed us to keep having success.”
Schwartz also said he is confident about the position group’s new players.
“Obviously, KO [Kelechi Osemele] has had an awesome career — and Mike Remmers has, too. Those are guys who understand how to play with people — and next to people. That’s something that I’m not too worried about. Martinas Rankin played great last year. I was really excited to see him keep progressing. It was a bummer [that] my injury kind of made him get hurt as well because he had to move to right tackle.
“We’ve got a lot of good players,” he said. “I think our offensive line is going to be awesome this year.”