After learning that Las Vegas Raiders owner Mark Davis had referred to the team’s new stadium as ‘The Death Star,” John Dixon couldn’t resist poking a hole in the logic used by the Kansas City Chiefs’ lonogtime rival.
As almost every Jedi knows, the Death Star was able to use its awesome power only once: when it destroyed the planet Alderaan. Before it could destroy the rebel base on
DantooineYavin 4, it was itself destroyed by a rebel attack focusing on a weak point revealed by blueprints stolen from the Empire’s forces.
Of course... all of this did happen a long time ago in a galaxy far away. Maybe Davis just forgot.
This time, finding the Death Star’s weak point isn’t going to take a rebel princess and a cast of space-faring heroes to spirit the stolen plans across the galaxy. We already know what it is: a Chiefs flag buried under the new stadium.
On Monday — with the Chiefs’ veteran corner facing a four-game suspension to begin the season — the defensive coordinator offered a few clues on how the team might proceed.
“No question, we would love to have Bashaud out there,” Steve Spagnuolo proclaimed to reporters on Zoom on Monday. “There are two ways to look at it — I could say to you that it’s just like somebody getting hurt and you have to put the next guy in there, so part of that is true. The advantage we have is we know that quote, unquote, ‘that person’ is not going to be there, so we have some time to get ready. So, I’m glad we at least know what we’re faced with and we can get some guys mentally ready.
“Again, I will figure out who that’s going to be. We don’t have that figured out now, and we’ll try to shuffle things around. My guess is it may not just be one person, but we’ll see.”
Monday’s edition of the Arrowhead Pride Laboratory addressed the former Baltimore Ravens safety, whom the team had released following what were reported as locker room issues. Before last season, the Chiefs had reportedly offered Thomas a one-year deal before the Ravens enticed him to Baltimore with a longer contract.
If Thomas had signed with the Chiefs, it’s unlikely they would have selected Thornhill in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Hindsight indicates that would have been a mistake. Thornhill played well his first year in the NFL and made major improvements throughout the year before an ACL injury ended his season just shy of the playoffs. Thornhill is under club control for the next three seasons and is an ascending player.
The good news for the Chiefs is that had things gone their way last year, they wouldn’t be on the hook the same way the Ravens are — essentially paying Thomas $22 million for his one year in Baltimore. Had things gone south in 2019 in any capacity, it’s likely that Thomas would have received a contract somewhere else.
We already knew that the defensive tackle would face a suspension when Steve Spagnuolo let it slip the week before. When the two-game suspension was officially announced on Tuesday, Pennel issued a statement.
PENNEL: First and foremost, I want to apologize to my family, friends, teammates, coaches, the Chiefs organization and all of Chiefs Kingdom. Although I am completely unaware of how this occurred, I take full responsibility for what goes into my body and promise to be more vigilant moving forward. I am truly sorry and ask for your grace and forgiveness. I promise to return with a vengeance in our journey to RunItBack!
On Wednesday, the Chiefs president used his annual training camp press conference to cover a number of issues — including a perception the Chiefs had raised their ticket prices in order to restore the revenue they would be losing after capping Arrowhead crowds at 22% of capacity.
“In May — when our schedule was released — we announced our single-game ticket pricing,” he explained. “In May — when we announced those prices — we were assuming we were going to have 76,000 people in the stadium.
“Those prices were based on a lot of very complicated algorithms and data that we use to understand the market [for Chiefs tickets] — and understand what the value of those tickets are in this market. Before we reduced [attendance] to 16,000 seats — before we went through any of these changes — we set those prices. We haven’t changed those prices; those are exactly what they were. Those are single-game prices. They’re based on the value of those tickets in the marketplace.”
As professional sporting events and practices were being cancelled across the country on Wednesday in response to the shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin, the Chiefs’ head coach offered his thoughts to reporters.
“I think you guys know, I’m into team, I’m into peace and people getting along,” offered Reid in his opening statement. “Right or wrong, we all need to join hands here and make this world a place where we can go into each other’s neighborhoods and be comfortable, and that we appreciate life and how important it is, how hard it is to create life, something that really none of us are capable of doing in a test tube. It’s a precious thing. It’s complicated, and it’s precious.
“At this time, everybody needs to come together and join hands like I said and love each other for what we are, and the privilege that we have in this short period of time that we are on Earth, as opposed to walking in fear, to walk with strength and pride and make this country the greatest place ever, along with the world. We do that, and we’ll be a great example to the world.”
We had already known that the Chiefs and former Miami Dolphins center Daniel Kilgore were interested in each other. They made it official on Thursday.
It ended up taking a little longer than we might have expected, but on Thursday, the Chiefs signed Kilgore, waiving linebacker Emmanuel Smith to make room for Kilgore on the team’s 80-man roster. Once Smith cleared waivers on Friday, he was added to the Chiefs’ injured reserve.
Kilgore, 32, is a 10-year NFL veteran who was drafted out of Appalachian State in the fifth round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers. Listed at 6-feet-3 and 291 pounds, he’s mostly played at center through eight seasons with the 49ers and two with Miami. After missing most of 2018 with a torn triceps, he started 13 games with the Dolphins in 2019. Miami chose not to bring him back for 2020.
Thursday also brought welcome news: after being held out of training camp practice with a shoulder injury on both Monday and Wednesday, a key offensive lineman was back.
New offensive lineman Kelechi Osemele was back on the field on Thursday, after being held out of practice with a shoulder injury on both Monday and Wednesday. Defensive tackle Chris Jones was working with trainers during the stretching and individual drills, but was on the field in pads (via The Athletic).
Tommy Townsend — who will now certainly be the team’s punter and field-goal holder in 2020 — learned this week that his older brother Johnny is back in the league. Tommy spoke to Kansas City reporters on Friday.
If the elder Townsend makes the Ravens’ final roster, the Chiefs will again have half of an NFL punting duo — who will face each other in Baltimore during Week 3. The two played against each other once before — during Tommy’s freshman year with the Volunteers — but the Chiefs rookie doesn’t know how their parents will fall on their jersey selections.
“I can’t say my parents would go for either of us,” he chuckled. “I think they’d be split between [us]. They’re both tremendously supportive, so I don’t know. Dad might be in one jersey; Mom might be in the other. Who knows?”
As the week ended, so did Chiefs training camp — which concluded Saturday with a final practice at Arrowhead that marked the return of center Austin Reiter, along with the raising of a Super Bowl flag above the stadium. We also learned that the team was reported to be negotiating contract extensions with head coach Andy Reid and general manager Brett Veach. But there was the little matter of what we could glean from the players we saw on the field for the final practice, too.
The defense stayed in their base formation for the majority of their team period, revealing Anthony Hitchens as the MIKE, Damien Wilson as the SAM and Ben Niemann as the WILL linebacker. Niemann’s experience as a dime coverage linebacker last year has led to becoming the starting WILL — a position that requires athleticism and coverage skills.
Rookie linebacker Willie Gay Jr. did not see the field with the first-team defense.
Were these real indicators — or just a smokescreen at a public practice? We’ll find out a week from this Thursday — when the Chiefs open the season against the Houston Texans at Arrowhead.