With mandatory minicamp underway for the Kansas City Chiefs, it was good to see one of the team’s most important names for the first time this offseason. Defensive end Frank Clark wasn’t in the building for voluntary workouts over the last few weeks, but he was on the field for practice on Tuesday.
Clark went dark on social media over the offseason, not tweeting since the week of Super Bowl LV. He went so long without it that he “forgot his password” but acknowledged that it was a productive break — helping him lock in for the season.
“Just extreme focus,” Clark said, describing his mentality to reporters via Zoom after practice. “You’ve got to digest everything to be able to come back with a clear mindset going into each year. Basically, it’s hard to wash out that taste of losing the Super Bowl, but that’s why you have the offseason, so you can come back, go recuperate and come back with a fresh mindset into training camp.”
Clark is entering his third season in Kansas City and under the coaching of defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. The coaching staff continuity is there, and they’ve built a core group with most of the starters being together for all three years.
This existing familiarity of the scheme allows the team’s veterans to try new things, and there’s one particular change that continues to be discussed by the team. Defensive tackle Chris Jones will play a certain amount of defensive end snaps, and Clark believes that Jones’ versatility will benefit the rest of the unit.
“I think it kind of opens up the game more, honestly,” Clark explained about Jones playing defensive end. “You find a lot of times we made it easier on teams to make adjustments and stuff last year when me and Chris lined up on the same side... But Chris going to the end position, it just opens up the game much more. It makes it hard—now they’ve got to pick sides, whether they’re going to slide right or going to slide left.”
One potential starter is new to the group but not necessarily new to Clark.
“Jarran [Reed], he’s a great player,” Clark emphasized to reporters. “Ever since he came into the league when I was in Seattle, me and him instantly bonded on and off the field and I think that plays a big role. When you’ve got a guy you can trust off the field, it’ll be easier for you to trust him on the field. Just being able to complement each other on each other’s game and play off each other well, I think those are things that helped us be successful when we played together.”
The importance for an offensive line to have continuity and chemistry is well-known, but it’s just as important in the trenches on the other side of the ball. The more each player can sense the other’s rhythm or timing on pass-rush stunts and twists, the better they can execute the moves.
Another player that has a strong bond with Clark is edge rusher Taco Charlton. They’ve been close since college, and Clark has always believed in Charlton’s ability.
“For Taco, the sky is the limit,” Clark assured. “Still a young guy going into Year 5... it’s going to be important and imperative for him to be all-the-way healthy so he can have a great camp leading into the season.”
He also noted that rookie end Joshua Kaindoh was doing “a great job,” then described him as smart and “blessed and gifted” physically.
In all, Clark is feeling good about the group and the individuals that make up its depth. He recognizes that he didn’t meet some of his production goals last season, but he’s already setting the bar high for himself once again.
The overall improvement of the personnel around him could help him tally up a few more pressures and sacks.