Chris Jones stood at the (virtual) podium during the Kansas City Chiefs’ offseason program and — as candid as could be — thanked God he had finally been given the opportunity to play more as a defensive end.
What had been a talking point for years became a reality once the Chiefs locked up former Seattle Seahawks defensive tackle Jarran Reed for 2021 this offseason. And, as it turned out, the Chiefs already had two defensive tackles they liked in Derrick Nnadi and Tershawn Wharton.
Thus, a sudden abundance of riches.
“Jarran Reed kind of came in here and gave the coaches the flexibility to move me around. By him being who he is and having such a big presence along the line of scrimmage — his position — 3-tech (aligning on the outside shoulder of a guard between the guard and tackle), which we play the same position — it freed me up to go and move to the outside and let him dominate the line of scrimmage from the inside.”
To prepare for the partial position switch, the now-hybrid defensive lineman came to camp 15 to 20 pounds lighter than his listed weight of 310. Jones said he accomplished the weight loss by taking up yoga and Pilates three times a week.
“It’s been fun. It’s been different,” smiled Jones. “I can do some positions now I never thought I could do, but it’s fun. I usually do Pilates during the offseason, but I started a little earlier this year for my flexibility — bending the edge is a little different from taking the turn on the 3-tech, so I wanted to be a little more flexible on bending the edge, and I was able to work on my flexibility a lot.”
Jones also began watching the film of the league’s top defensive ends.
“Instead of watching 3-tech, I’m kind of mismatching, watching a few 3-techs, a few D-ends,” explained Jones. “Cam Jordan, you know, guys who have set the stage for defensive ends in this league. Myles Garrett, Joey Bosa, you know, those type of guys who have made a name for themselves at the position of defensive end.”
Jones said his role would be determined game-by-game, depending on defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s game plan for a given week. Like fellow defender Anthony Hitchens, Jones will be tweaking his weight throughout camp to find the weight that best allows him to do both positions.
During 11-on-11 work on Thursday, Jones powered around the left edge and beat Mike Remmers; had quarterbacks been allowed to be touched, he would have had a sure sack on the play. In 2018, Jones had a career-high 15.5 sacks as a tackle, but his additional end work could prove to give that number a run for its money.
“We are trying to break the record, baby,” agreed Jones. “We are trying to break the record. No ifs, ands or buts about it. The record. We’re trying to have the best D-line in the league, first and foremost. We’re trying to be dominant throughout this whole season, but we’re trying to challenge each other to get better day in and day out. If we do that, this D-line will be where we want to be.”
(Note: Thursday’s observations were written by Arrowhead Pride lead analyst Ron Kopp, who was in attendance for the workout.)
- The weather in St. Joseph Thursday morning was sunny and hot. The temperature was in the low 80s when practice began at 9:15 a.m., with a real feel of 90 degrees.
- Thursday was the first practice open to the public; Wednesday’s was only available to season ticket holders.
- Veteran linebacker Anthony Hitchens tweaked his hamstring on Day 1 of training camp. In his place, the starting linebackers on Day 2 were Ben Niemann at MIKE, Willie Gay Jr. at SAM and rookie Nick Bolton at the WILL position. In nickel personnel, Niemann and Gay stayed on the field with the first-team defense.
- The lone linebacker on the field for dime personnel was Niemann — just as it was last season. While the defense worked through pass coverage responsibilities in the dime, the coaches had Gay Jr. stand behind the unit and watch — getting mental repetitions rather than physical reps with the second-team defensive group on the other side of the field.
- In seven-on-seven drills, rookie tight end Noah Gray made an impressive, over-the-shoulder catch on a sideline route over safety Daniel Sorensen. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes placed it perfectly.
- With the first-team offense on the field in seven-on-sevens, the Chiefs aligned wide receivers Tyreek Hill, Mecole Hardman and Antonio Callaway on the same side of the formation in a Trips look. That much speed on one side of the field could be a nightmare for opposing defenses.
- Quarterback Shane Buechele made an accurate, back-shoulder sideline throw to rookie receiver Cornell Powell — who manufactured good separation on his route. Unfortunately, the well-placed pass was dropped. We noticed Powell had a couple of drops on the day.
- In the first few plays of 11-on-11 team work, there were two errant snaps between Mahomes and rookie center Creed Humphrey: one shotgun snap that had to be chased down by Mahomes behind the line of scrimmage and another snap from under center where Mahomes never had the handle. On the next play, there was a high snap that Mahomes had to jump to catch.
- Mahomes wasn’t connecting very consistently with his receivers in the 11-on-11 period. He overthrew receiver Byron Pringle on one deep pass, threw behind Callaway as he scrambled right and led Demarcus Robinson a little too far down the sideline on another.
- In nickel personnel, the first-team defense started with cornerbacks Charvarius Ward and Mike Hughes on the outside and L’Jarius Sneed in the slot — just like on Day 1. Deandre Baker rotated with Hughes a good amount.
- Undrafted free agent safety Devon Key rotated in with the first-team defense almost as much as third-year safety Juan Thornhill. However, Key was beaten a few times in coverage by tight end Jody Fortson.
- Speaking of Fortson, he made several noticeable big plays throughout the workout, many of the passes coming from backup quarterback Chad Henne, who looked solid throughout his second-team work.
- Veteran defensive end Demone Harris — who was part of the defensive line rotation in the Super Bowl LV run — got repetitions with the second-team defense alongside second-year end Mike Danna.
Press conferences (Spotify)
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- Did not practice (COVID-19 list): Running back Darwin Thompson, long snapper James Winchester.
- Did not practice (injury): Defensive end Malik Herring (ACL), tight end Nick Keizer (back spasms), right guard Kyle Long (tibia), safety Armani Watts (foot); linebacker Anthony Hitchens (hamstring)
- Injured Thursday: The Chiefs said that tight end Travis Kelce left practice early with a tight hip and back.
Tweet of the day
Our John Dixon compiled all of Thursday’s tweets here. Here is the tweet of the day:
Midway through day 2 of Chiefs camp, Noah Gray is still the majestic white horse on a sandy beach.— Nate Taylor (@ByNateTaylor) July 29, 2021
Just need to see it in pads & the preseason.
Gray received additional opportunity with Kelce leaving before team work began, and as Nate — err, alluded to — he made the most of it.
Quote of the day
Chris Jones discussing his last super before St. Joseph: “I came up here on the first day, I grabbed a Popeye’s chicken sandwich, three chicken strips, a biscuit, fry and a 12-count nugget, and I still weight like 292. And I was telling B (defensive line coach Brendan Daly), he was like, ‘You’re the perfect weight.’ I was like, ‘No, I’m not. I just ate like three sandwiches from Popeye’s, some chicken strips, and so I’m good. I’m still trying to move up in the 295 range.”
The Chiefs resume camp with their third practice Friday at 9:15 a.m. Arrowhead Time. Afterward, Chiefs players will speak to the media.