Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid is officially ready to begin the game play of his 23rd season as an NFL head coach. That much was clear in St. Joseph on Thursday, as Reid greeted the media for the final time before his team gets on a plane headed for northern California on Friday.
The Chiefs play the San Francisco 49ers on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Arrowhead Time.
“As far as this game goes, we’ll give the ones a quarter, twos a quarter, the second quarter, threes the third quarter, fours the fourth quarter,” noted Reid, who explained he would stick to his usual first three-game plan last week.
Unlike in previous seasons, the Chiefs have an initial five-man cut coming on Tuesday, so the players at the end of the roster getting some reps on film are just as important as the starters. The Chiefs want to ensure they do not move on from potential contributors.
“This game will be important for them, getting some work,” said Reid of the fringe players. “Next game, it will decrease as it goes, but it’s important that they get in and show. And practice (Monday) will be important.”
Saturday will be the first time the Chiefs’ new-look offensive line of Orlando Brown Jr., Joe Thuney, Creed Humphrey, Trey Smith and Lucas Niang have an opportunity to perform in a game together — and Reid is hoping to see a few things.
“That continuity, communication,” he said, “working together through different works, functioning.”
Specifically speaking, this will be the team and fan base’s first look at Brown, the supposed answer Kansas City acquired via trade from the Baltimore Ravens.
“He’s doing good,” Reid said of Brown’s time thus far in camp. “He’s working through everything and getting better. It seems like he has pretty good communication right there with (Joe) Thuney, and they seem to be doing a decent job.”
Beyond simply protecting Patrick Mahomes, another anticipated aspect of the new line is what they may do for the Chiefs’ running backs. While in St. Joseph, the offensive line has shown a knack for making room for Chiefs runners — and now it will have the opportunity to do so against an opposing defense.
“I want to see them hit the hole, see them protect and catch the football when asked to,” said Reid of his running backs. “With 25 (Clyde Edwards-Helaire), we’re young, so the more reps we get, the better he’s going to become over time here. So, he’ll get some work, and 31 (Darrel Williams), he’ll get some work, and we’ve got 1 (Jerick McKinnon) who hasn’t played for us, he’ll get some work in there. Then, the ‘Termite’ (Darwin Thompson), he’ll get his work. He’ll be in there too.”
The Chiefs will also get their first film in on potential candidates to replace Sammy Watkins at wide receiver. Watkins, who had often missed stretches during his time in Kansas City, is now a rival in Baltimore.
“I’ve done it different ways,” said Reid regarding the receiver position. “When Sammy was here, he was that guy. But we’ve also done it by committee, which we did when Sam couldn’t play, we moved people around.”
Reid was sure to note that most of those candidates have had their moments — and that is important.
“I think as coaches, we appreciate them and appreciate their work ethic and what they can do when they have the ball in their hands,” said Reid. “They’ve all scored big touchdowns for us, whether it was Mecole (Hardman) or D-Rob (Demarcus Robinson), (Byron) Pringle, they all do a nice job out there. I don’t know if they’re underestimated. We don’t underestimate them.”
- The weather in St. Joseph Tuesday morning was sunny, with the temperature in the low-to-mid 80s to start the workout. The temperature climbed to almost 90 degrees by the time practice had ended.
- Offensive lineman Mike Remmers was mixing in at right tackle very early in practice but gave way to Lucas Niang for team periods. It was a small sign that Remmers could still be in the mix there, but I continue to believe that Niang ultimately wins out.
- Linebacker Darius Harris had the best practice that I have seen, beginning with his dominance over running back and tight ends in one-on-one pass blocking (he tossed Derrick Gore to the ground on one rep), followed by being one of the only linebackers to have a pass breakup in coverage during one-on-ones. Emmanuel Smith also registered a one-on-one breakup.
- Linebacker Ben Niemann overpowered running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire on back-to-back one-on-one pass blocking reps. The Chiefs have spoken about Edwards-Helaire and his increased offensive role in 2021 — but to be a three-down back, he will need to continue improving there. As of now, I’d still expect Darrel Williams to get third downs.
- I thought tight end Noah Gray put a couple of good pass-blocking reps on tape Thursday.
- Similar to what I wrote on Harris, I thought Thursday might have been cornerback Mike Hughes’ best practice of camp. During team periods, the Chiefs had him at right cornerback, opposite Charvarius Ward in the nickel.
- Hughes stayed with wide receiver Tyreek Hill on a double-move in one-on-ones, had a pass breakup against Hill in early team work, then defended Mecole Hardman well in later team work.
- Both wide receivers Marcus Kemp and Daurice Fountain made one-handed grabs in goal-line one-on-ones. Demarcus Robinson high-pointed a ball out of the reach of defensive back Chris Lammons.
- The Chiefs’ second-team center on Thursday was Nick Allegretti, with Austin Blythe at left guard. The other positions from left to right were left tackle Prince Tega Wanogho, right guard Yasir Durant and right tackle Andrew Wylie.
- I thought quarterback Patrick Mahomes looked sharp early, fitting balls into tight windows and showing good chemistry with Travis Kelce, Hill and Hardman. That gave way to some miscues later in practice. During the final team period, safety Daniel Sorensen had an interception and Niemann had a pass breakup in back-to-back plays .
- The Chiefs ran back-to-back field-goal attempts in which the unit was working against a ticking play clock with no timeouts. Harrison Butker went 1 of 2 from around 38-42 yards, missing the first attempt just right of the goal post.
- The Chiefs worked stunts in offensive line-defensive line drills for the first time this camp, and I thought the offensive line generally held up nicely. Offensive line coach Andy Heck had Joe Thuney, Creed Humphrey and Trey Smith going at the same time at one point, and the trio maintained its reputation as a force to be reckoned with. Even the second-team offensive line had a better day than the penetrators in these Thursday looks.
- During Chad Henne’s final team reps, tight end Jody Fortson did a nice job managing to pluck a bad ball out of the air after a bobble, and running back Jerrick McKinnon saw a deflected ball fall out of the air — and into his hands — down the right sideline for an easy touchdown. The offensive plays of the day happened on back-to-back second-team reps to end the day.
Press conferences (Spotify)
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- Returned to practice: n/a
- Did not participate in team drills (injury): Linebacker Willie Gay (concussion protocol), defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi (hip), defensive end Alex Okafor (hamstring), right tackle Mike Remmers (back spasms)
- Did not practice/not in pads (due to injury): Tight end Evan Baylis (ankle), wide receiver Antonio Callaway (bone bruise), right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (hand), defensive end Malik Herring (ACL), right guard Kyle Long (tibia)
- Did not practice (COVID-19 list): n/a
- Injured at practice Thursday: Defensive end Frank Clark (hamstring), cornerback BoPete Keyes (dislocated finger)
Tweet of the day
Our John Dixon compiled all of Thursday’s tweets here. Here is the tweet of the day:
Quote of the day
Congratulations to Patrick Mahomes II for assisting in bringing Whataburger to Kansas City! Exciting times ahead for the Missouri and Kansas area with the addition of 30 restaurants over the next 7 years! #Whataburger #KansasCity pic.twitter.com/03QLaoTG5H— Leigh Steinberg (@leighsteinberg) August 10, 2021
Patrick Mahomes on bringing a Whataburger franchise expansion to Kansas and Missouri: “I love Kansas City, and I love Whataburger.”
The Chiefs are off on Friday to travel to San Francisco ahead of their first 2021 preseason game against the 49ers at 7:30 p.m. Arrowhead Time on Saturday. The Chiefs return to St. Joseph for three days of practice beginning on Monday at 9:15 a.m. Arrowhead Time.