While most NFL teams tend to have a lot of minor injuries during training camp, it’s something that everyone is watching very closely during an offseason where months of activity are being crammed into a period measured in weeks. With each passing day, there are more players are on the sidelines with groin and hamstring injuries — which means that more serious injuries multiply concerns about roster depth.
Such has been the case with Kansas City Chiefs safety Juan Thornhill, who has been recovering from an ACL injury he sustained at the end of last season. It was originally thought he might be ready for training camp, but he instead ended up on the team’s physically-unable-to-perform list when camp opened.
Thornhill, however, was back on the practice field Wednesday — albeit with limited participation — and Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said they’d be gradually working him up to speed.
“He sure had a good couple workouts prior to getting activated again there, so we think that’s a plus,” he told reporters after practice.
Reid understood that secondary depth has been a concern — especially since cornerback Alex Brown went on injured reserve for the season.
“As far as the young corners, we’ll see,” he said. “Time will tell here as we go, but we have a good nucleus of guys. It’ll all sort out here in the next couple of weeks. Everybody is working hard and getting a lot of reps — which is good — and we should be fine there.”
Despite the concerns with depth, Reid has more reason for optimism than just his eternally upbeat demeanor. After all... he has Tyrann Mathieu on his team.
“We’re using Tyrann at a couple of different spots,” explained Reid, “but he easily could play corner — not that we’re doing that — but he has that kind of coverage ability. So when a guy comes in to play that position outside, he knows exactly what that guy has to do to work in that spot and he’s able to communicate with him — and he does that quite a bit. You hear him out there talking and he knows everything that’s going on.
“He’s got a full understanding of what Steve Spagnuolo wants — he’s really an extension of Spags on the field — and for Steve, that becomes so important to have that guy. So [Mathieu’s] able to kind of get everything right in the secondary — plus he’s got great instincts at the safety position and nickel position.”
Reid is similarly unconcerned about depth among his tight ends — even though Deon Yelder has yet to be on the field for a padded practice and Ricky Seals-Jones was carted off the field with a leg injury on Monday.
“I’m okay with the tight end situation as long as we keep growing,” said Reid.
Besides... he likes what he’s seeing from Nick Keizer.
“Nick has done a good job,” declared Reid. “He’s getting better every day. He’s a smart kid, tough kid — and he has a good mentor there with Travs Kelce, so he gets to see it done the right way. I’m asking all those guys: just try to get yourself better every day, work through it.”
Reid said that his coaches ask a lot of their tight ends.
“If you’re not focused in every day that you come out — and [aren’t] disciplined — then you’re going to take a step backwards. So they’ve done a good job with it — Nick being one of them there — that I think is really working hard at getting himself to where he’s one of the guys.”
In the meantime, Reid said the team is doing what it can to prevent additional injuries during training camp.
“We always try to do that,” said the head coach, “because you can be a great coach, but if you don’t have your players... we’re all in it together. So we try to keep bodies off the ground and [still] do those things that are important. Play hard and play fast, but we’re not taking cheap shots on each other; we’re not doing that. We’re trying to stay away from collisions on the back end, bodies on the ground with the bigs and that.”
Reid says he’s been advising the rookies to watch how the veterans go about their training camp business.
“If you just watch our veterans practice, they kind of know how to do it,” said Reid. “So, I tell the young guys that, ‘see how they do it, they’re moving like crazy, but you don’t see guys flopping around on the ground.’”