The Kansas City Chiefs are fortunate to have entered training camp with most of their offensive starters set. There are some pieces that need to be figured out along the offensive line, but unlike some teams around the league, the starting running back, tight end and top receivers’ names can be written in ink.
Where it can get interesting for the Chiefs is beyond those top positions, and offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy was questioned about all three after the team’s workout at Arrowhead Stadium on Saturday.
No. 2 running back
Over the past few weeks, since Damien Williams’ opt-out, it has become clear that rookie first-rounder Clyde Edwards-Helaire is Kansas City’s starting running back.
But who will be the first running back to touch the ball after Edwards-Helaire?
“At the end of the day, you just want the best guys available,” Bieniemy explained. “One thing (running backs coach) Deland (McCullough) does a great job of is preparing all those guys to be the starter because, unfortunately, injuries do happen and we’re going to need all of those guys.”
The candidates for the backup position are Darrel Williams, Darwin Thompson, DeAndre Washington and dark horse Elijah McGuire. Bieniemy spoke about the backs in that order.
“With a veteran like Darrel Williams, he’s done a hell of a job. He’s smart, he can run it, he does a great job of picking up the blitz, and he’s also good in the pass game as far as catching passes out on the perimeter. So, the thing is that we want to continue to grow with that position. Darwin has done a lot of great things this camp, DeAndre is competing his tail off, Elijah — so it’s been good. But also, we want all of those guys to understand the importance of playing special teams as well because when it’s all said and done, all of us have to have a role that’s going to help us to be at our best. And regardless of whatever hat you’re wearing, you have to wear it with authority, understanding that I have to go out there and perform when called upon.”
Darrel played 108 special-teams snaps for the Chiefs in 2019, and Thompson had 99. Washington recorded 82 for the Raiders.
Who wins the Chiefs’ RB2 job?
This poll is closed
No. 2 tight end
Blake Bell’s offseason departure to the Dallas Cowboys left a vacancy at the team’s second tight end, and due to Deon Yelder and Ricky Seals-Jones dealing with injuries, Nick Keizer has seen a lot of action behind Travis Kelce. Keizer is in his second season with the Chiefs.
“Nick has done a good job — he’s done a great job, actually,” Bieniemy explained. “Coach (Tom) Melvin, our tight end coach, he’s been doing this for a very long time. He’s been with coach (Andy) Reid since day one. So he knows where all the bones are buried when it comes to coaching that position because coach (Reid) coached it at one point in time. Coach Mel is experienced, he’s done a great job of getting Nick ready.”
Reid commented on Keizer’s training camp performance to date on Wednesday.
“Nick has done a good job,” said Reid. “He’s getting better every day. He’s a smart kid, tough kid, and he has a good mentor there with Trav, 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. We ask a lot out of that position within the run game and the pass game, and if you’re not focused in every day that you come out and 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.”
Bieniemy revealed that Seals-Jones, who had a scare with a leg injury, should re-enter the battle soon.
“We’re getting Ricky back in the mix,” added Bieniemy. “Ricky’s done a heck of a job so far when he’s had the opportunity to be there. Deon Yelder and also we got the new kid in (Daniel) Helm, and he’s picked up the offense pretty good, so we’re expecting all of those guys to contribute and you’re going to always hear me say this — we want all of them to understand how important it is to be ready, so we coach our guys to be the starter because you never know what may happen, and that next man has to be ready.”
Who wins the Chiefs’ TE2 job?
This poll is closed
Depth wide receivers
The Chiefs are fortunate to have a deep receiver room after Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins. After last year’s performance, it is reasonable to think Mecole Hardman will be the next option after the top two.
“We just wanted to see Mecole grow in our offense,” Bieniemy said of the second-year receiver. “It’s tough as a young player coming into this offense because of the enormous amount of information we’re giving to them. One thing I think he did a great job of last season was learning the offense. We want to expand his role even more into the offense in just keeping him involved. I will say this — he’s done a heck of a job of learning and going out there and doing the things that we’re asking him to do. We just want him to continue to work and continue maximizing every rep that he has an opportunity to get out and get in sync and in rhythm with Pat.”
Hardman sounds like a player who could take a step forward in 2020, and Demarcus Robinson and Byron Pringle round out the room.
“Those guys (Robinson and Pringle) wear a hard hat to work every single day because the only thing they do, they just want to compete. They line up on special teams whenever coach (Dave) Toub needs them, they’re four-phase special teams contributors and then if he needs them on the scout team. Those guys are constantly running. Those guys understand the importance of, ‘If you don’t work, you don’t eat.’ So those guys are doing a heck of a job of making the most of every opportunity that is presented to them. As a coaching staff, we trust them because they’re smart, they’re intelligent.”
The Chiefs only kept five receivers at last year’s 53-man cutdown, but that does not mean they will do so again this year. If they were to keep a sixth receiver, the candidates are Jody Fortson, Gehrig Dieter and Marcus Kemp.
Which receiver has the best chance of making the Chiefs’ roster?
This poll is closed