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What we learned about the Chiefs this week

Taking a look at the week of May 17 on Arrowhead Pride...

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 15 AdvoCare Showdown - Ohio State v TCU Photo by Matthew Visinsky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Andy Reid says Lucas Niang is in better shape than he was in 2020

As Kansas City Chiefs rookie minicamp wound down on Sunday, Reid addressed a hot offseason topic: the readiness of the rookie tackle who opted out of the 2020 season.

“He actually came in better shape than he probably was last year,” noted the head coach. “That’s a plus. You know he’s been doing stuff. So he came in — and it looked like he got right back into it. For what we asked him to do, he was fine.”

Because of the limited number of players in the minicamp — partly because the league had limited each team to just five tryout invitations — there were limits on what players like Niang were able to do.

“The thing with this [minicamp] is there was no offense versus defense with the lines,” Reid told reporters. “So we didn’t have one-on-ones or any of that.”

Chiefs sign defensive back Manny Patterson after minicamp tryout, make two cuts

During the three-day minicamp, five players tried out with the team. On Monday, we learned of four transactions.

To make room for Patterson and wide receiver Daurice Fountain — whose signing made news earlier in the day — the Chiefs waived defensive back Jaylon McClain-Sapp and released wide receiver Tajae Sharpe.

Patterson — who will turn 23 at the end of May — played for the Black Bears from 2016 through 2019, starting a total of 39 games before his senior season was cut short by a torn ACL. During his time there, he was a three-time All-CAA selection, collecting 93 tackles (67 solo, 2.5 for loss) an interception and 47 pass breakups. As a freshman, he was the school’s defensive rookie of the year, starting nine games.

Chiefs rookie breakdown: Cornell Powell

Also on Monday, Ron Kopp completed his series of breakdowns on the team’s drafted rookies.

From what I’ve seen of Powell, he should be firmly in competition with Demarcus Robinson and Byron Pringle for snaps as the “X” receiver. It won’t be his on-field talent that keeps him from playing; I would trust him above the others to create separation against press coverage. Instead, his biggest disadvantage will be his lack of experience in the offense.

Aside from that, the three are similar players — although Powell’s jump-ball ability might be more impressive than what we’ve seen from the other two. And it’s not crazy to group them together: Robinson was a fourth-round pick, while Pringle went undrafted. It wouldn’t be fair to dismiss Powell just because he was a fifth-round selection.

Being a rookie and not knowing coach Reid’s complex system will restrict him to an extent, but Powell does have an opportunity to contribute in 2021. Even if he doesn’t get many offensive snaps, he should be an important special teams player right away.

Report: Vast majority of Chiefs players report for Phase Two of OTAs

Then we had good news about the next phase of the offseason program.

In a normal offseason, we might see 90% attendance at a voluntary offseason program as a bad thing. While we could see a few players miss voluntary activities because they are in contract negotiations, nine players sitting out would raise eyebrows.

But in this particular offseason — in which the NFL Players’ Association has organized an attempt at boycotting these voluntary team activities — that’s a good number. The last we knew, players from 19 teams — not including Chiefs players — had issued statements supporting the boycott, which the players’ union says is to protect its members from potential exposure to the coronavirus.

While Chiefs players — as a group — haven’t weighed in on the boycott publicly, individual players might decide to support it by sitting out the voluntary portions of the offseason. But based on Herbie Teope’s report, it appears that very few individual Chiefs players are doing so.

Chiefs ranked highly in only offseason grade that really matters

Tuesday brought word that in their post-draft poll, ESPN’s 32 NFL beat writers voted the Chiefs as the league’s best team.

What’s interesting about this is that power rankings — even those based on a poll — tend to favor the previous Super Bowl winner. In the eyes of most NFL observers, once you’re the top dog, you remain the top dog — until another dog takes your place.

That might be especially true when the previous league championship was a 31-9 blowout — and the team that won it had (and still has) Tom Brady at quarterback. But as we see here, NFL beat reporters see that the Chiefs have solved their biggest problem — and now stand as the league’s best team.

It’s fine to grade individual parts of the offseason. But the only thing that really matters is the result: have offseason moves improved the team so that it can compete to win a championship? And in the eyes of ESPN’s beat writers, the Chiefs have done exactly that.

Chiefs re-sign Manny Patterson after original contract disapproved

On Wednesday, John Dixon dug into the details of an unusual story about the team’s newest defensive back.

Patterson — who went undrafted in 2020 after tearing an ACL the previous November — was never offered a standard three-year undrafted free agent contract at the league minimum salary. After recovering from his ACL injury, he was signed to the Washington Football Team’s practice squad in late September. After Washington released him, the Houston Texans signed him to their practice squad in December.

The Chiefs simply may not have realized that Patterson had never signed a UDFA contract last season. It wouldn’t have been an unreasonable assumption, since players who are signed to team practice squads have previously been signed to NFL contracts — and after those deals are terminated (in the case of rookie UDFAs, usually on final cutdown day), players then become free agents who may sign any kind of deal.

But because Patterson had been rehabbing his ACL injury in the spring and summer, he was never offered a three-year UDFA deal — until now.

2 Chiefs players firmly on the 2021 roster bubble

During Wednesday’s Arrowhead Pride Out of Structure podcast, Ron Kopp and Matt Stagner each talked about Chiefs who might (or might not) make September’s final roster.

Stags: Antonio Callaway

We usually think of players being on the bubble as a negative thing — but players on a reserve/future deal are aspiring to be on the bubble because it means they have a chance of making it onto the roster.

In a lot of ways, Callaway feels like a long shot — but he has recently received a little bit of love from the Chiefs’ coaching staff. In the past, Callaway has had production with other teams — and in Ron’s current 53-man roster projection, the sixth wide receiver spot is available. Until proven otherwise, Callaway could be the front-runner for the position.

WATCH: Mecole Hardman wins 40-yard race against three other NFL speedsters

4.22? ‘Nuff said.

Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman has won his virtual 40-yard dash race against NFL speedsters Henry Ruggs III, Devin White and Justin Jefferson. All but one of them turned in faster times than they recorded during their respective NFL Combine appearances — but Hardman recorded the fastest time: 4.22 seconds.

Hardman’s time ties John Ross’ all-time Combine record... and the Chiefs noticed.

GMFB lists ‘craziest, jaw-dropping NFL stats’ — including one from Chiefs

On Thursday’s episode, “Good Morning Football” co-host Kay Adams recalled the 2014 season — in which no Kansas City wide receiver caught a touchdown pass.

“There was a moment — I wish I could show it to you, but for some reason I can’t — Dwayne Bowe was ruled to have scored on a pass from Chase Daniel (my guy from Mizzou),” said Adams. “It was viewed and called a fumble AT THE HALF-YARD LINE INSTEAD! So I was robbed of it.”

The play McAdams described took place in the Chiefs’ final game of the season against the San Diego Chargers. Because she was only interested only in Bowe’s fantasy contribution, she left out an important detail: the Chiefs scored on the play anyway. Bowe was first thought to have broken the goal-line plane to score. On review, officials said that Bowe had fumbled the ball — which Kelce had recovered in the end zone — and the Chiefs took a 10-0 lead.

But it wasn’t the only near-touchdown by a Kansas City wide receiver that season.

Report: Bashaud Breeland visited Vikings on Thursday

Then we had news suggesting that Kansas City might not be signing the cornerback to his third consecutive one-year contract.

Over his two seasons with Kansas City, Breeland has started 26 games, collecting 86 tackles (67 solo, two for loss), four interceptions, a sack, a forced fumble and 17 passes defensed.

According to Nate Taylor’s reporting, Breeland and the Chiefs have continued to have discussions about him returning to the team for 2021. But Kansas City now has two defensive backs who were first-round picks for their former teams — Deandre Baker and new addition Mike Hughes — along with returning starter Charvarius Ward and second-year player L’Jarius Sneed. It might be that the Chiefs have simply decided to move on from the 29-year-old corner, who missed the first four games of the 2020 season with a suspension.

Thus far, there is no word on whether the Vikings will be offering Breeland a contract.