Time flies, and look for no further evidence than the fact that Saturday — when Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes takes the field at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph — will already mark the beginning of the fifth training camp of his young career.
The 25-year-old spent his first training camp in 2017 under the tutelage of Alex Smith, and the next three from 2018-20 as the team’s starter. As he enters year five, this time of year never gets old for the former NFL and Super Bowl MVP — and much of that has to do with his supporting cast.
“I think it comes with the culture that we have in this locker room,” said Mahomes as he spoke to the media on Zoom after reporting to St. Joe on Friday. “When you’re going up against guys like Tyrann Mathieu and Chris Jones every single day and they’re talking trash, you kind of have to have that competitive spirit, or you’re going to get dominated on the practice field. I think it just comes with the guys that you have around you — don’t take a day for granted, and I think we’ve learned that if we put in the work now, we’ll be at the end of the season where we want to be at.”
In 2021, the Chiefs will return many of the core pieces of its Super Bowl teams in players such as Mathieu — along with Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce on offense. But the offseason also provided change.
Wide receiver Sammy Watkins, who had been with the club since Mahomes took over as a starter, is a Baltimore Raven. In addition, the Chiefs completely overhauled their offensive line, and there are scenarios in which perhaps all five OL starters may be different from last year’s camp by the time Week 1 rolls along.
The new blood has brought fresh energy to the Chiefs, per Mahomes.
“It’s really cool cause you get that energy boost, I think it is of those guys are ready to go,” said Mahomes. “A lot of those guys hadn’t played in the Super Bowl or anything like that, so they want to make it there. And then having the culture you’ve built with the core guys around us. You get to go in there, and they see how we work every single day and they have the energy that they’re going to come do it as well.
“I think things like this — training camp at St. Joe — and all being together pretty much every single day, you keep building those relationships that have already been built a little bit, and I think it’ll bring us together throughout this month of going out there and practicing every single day but also eating every single meal together and building these relationships.”
Chiefs head coach Andy Reid has always loved going away for camp for the reasons Mahomes outlined — complete, 100%-of-the-day focus on football blended with intense camaraderie.
Quarterbacks and rookies begin work on Saturday and veterans join them on the field Wednesday. Then it’s all football until August 18 (full schedule here).