As Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid stood behind the microphone on the first official day of training camp, you could tell he was happy to be back in St. Joseph, Missouri — the home of Chiefs training camp since 2010. Last season, COVID-19 forced a brief hiatus — but now the team is now back on campus.
“We’re glad to be back up here in St. Joe,” Reid emphasized to reporters during Friday’s virtual press conference. “We love the hospitality that they give us here at Missouri Western State University.”
In 2020, the global pandemic forced the team to hold their annual training camp at their own facilities at the Truman Sports Complex, meaning that players would come in and out on a daily basis — just like practice during the season. Reid prefers the college campus experience, citing the around-the-clock schedule that eliminates external distractions — so that players can be focused solely on football.
“It’s a time for camaraderie — and bringing things together as a team,” Reid said of training camp. “It’s hard work — there’s no shortcuts, obviously. We’re going to try and cover everything we possibly can. There’s this concentration of football that you take in here. You’re sleeping in a dorm, you’re eating in a dorm and all that. You’re here, and it’s football 24/7 right now; that’s how it works.”
Before the rest of the 90-man roster reports on Monday, it’s just the quarterbacks, rookies, and a select group of players recovering from injury. Those players arrived on Friday to get some on-field work in before the rest of the team reports. But Reid said it’s not just the rookies who take advantage of the lighter practices over the next few days.
“The nice thing about [this weekend] is that everyone can get into a flow before the veterans come in,” he pointed out. “Whether it’s the coaches doing the install, whether it’s the players taking the first three days of practice that they’re going to repeat here in a couple of days, whether it’s your veteran quarterbacks getting into the flow before the other guys come in. These are all positive things that take place in the rookie training camp. It is condensed, though, because we’re not doing team activities — we’re doing seven-on-sevens as opposed to team — but we’ll work through all of the other things versus air with the run game and so on there.”
The other difference in this year’s camp is that the team had offseason workouts earlier this summer. In 2020, training camp was the first time teams were able to meet in person — instead of on a conference video call. Reid recognizes that the minicamps and OTAs allow the team to hit the ground running.
“It has a chance to have given us a little runway there to lead into training camp — especially with all the new people that have come on board here,” noted the head coach. “To me, this was a great time to have the OTAs. I mentioned it last year: I felt sorry for the teams that had new players or new staff come in — and had to play catchup. This at least gave us an opportunity with all the new fellows on the team to get engrained a little bit in their mind the offense, defense, and special teams — and be able to hit training camp where they aren’t as worried about knowing all that stuff as they are getting themselves through where they can actually play and not do as much thinking.”
One of the big differences between OTAs and training camp is the level of contact. Players are not in full pads during the early offseason practices — but once they get to training camp, it’s mostly full-go. Reid said that he learns from how his players handle the heightened level of contact.
“It’s not just the one day in pads,” Reid explained. “It’s easy to go to pads, but it’s pad after pad after pad after pad — and the mental and physical fatigue you get through training camp. How are you going to handle that — and still go out and play well?”
That’s the question that Reid and the coaching staff will be looking for players to answer. It wasn’t as easy to answer during last season’s limited, shortened camp — but it’s definitely full-go now. And the head coach is ready to get started.