Kansas City Chiefs: DB Devon Key
The Kansas City Chiefs wisely focused much of their attention this offseason on revamping the offensive line after its collapse on the biggest stage. While this overhauled unit should help the team get back to a third consecutive Super Bowl, the Kansas City secondary isn’t in the best shape going into training camp.
UDFA Devon Key, a safety prospect who reportedly earned more snaps than any other undrafted defensive back at Kansas City’s first practice, could be in the mix. Key partnered with Juan Thornhill, the team’s former starting free safety who was relegated to backup duty midway through the 2020 campaign, on the second unit.
With Tyrann Mathieu locked in as the Chiefs’ top strong safety, Key could carve out a unique role for this squad. The rookie was mostly used as a box safety at Western Kentucky, but he may end up playing deeper for Kansas City while also taking some snaps as a linebacker or covering the slot.
Daniel Sorensen, a versatile safety himself, praised Key for being able to pick up Kansas City’s defensive schemes so quickly (via Ed Easton Jr. of USA Today):
“[Key is] picking up the defense really well. Which, is probably the first hurdle for any rookie, being able to understand the scheme and how to play in this system, and he’s done that very well. He’s a high-energy, high-effort guy, so he’s been flying around making plays, and they’re giving him opportunities to do that.”
Sorensen may be helping to groom his eventual replacement in Key. If the first-year defensive back is catching on as fast as his teammate believes he is, Key could have an outside shot at making the final roster.
Undrafted rookie Devon Key has my attention — started the team session on defense next to Tyrann Mathieu.— Pete Sweeney (@pgsween) August 3, 2021
“Just the professionalism, man, coming to work each and every day, being where your feet are,” Mathieu said. “He’s probably one of the best at that. And then the work he put in on the field. I remember when I came in, obviously he was well invested when I was a rookie, and just the kind of work he put in. Every time he caught a football, he tried his best to take it to the end zone.
“And even helping out younger guys, whether it be offensively, defensively, he was always that guy that was willing to help. And so like I said, man, I’ve been always blessed to be in a locker room with some great guys that I can really learn from. He’s probably at the top of the list.”
Those kinds of drills date back to the earliest days of organized football and can provide insights in the film room after practice.
“[You can go back and] see your steps, your craftiness and how you can get free,” said defensive tackle Tershawn Wharton. “I try not to let people touch me, so I’m trying to see how I can get free more and get to the quarterback faster on the inside.”
This marked the first of four-straight padded practices at training camp as things kick into high gear, and after months of gradual preparation throughout the offseason, the Chiefs got back to playing some real football on Tuesday.
“I think the pads were talking today,” Wharton said. “They were talking today.”
Amid a mass of bodies up front, there’s an easy way to tell if Creed Humphrey is snapping for the Kansas City Chiefs.
He’s doing it left-handed.
“I don’t really think it matters much,” said Humphrey, a rookie center who is already running with the starting offense at Chiefs training camp in St. Joseph, Missouri. “I don’t really think it’s that big of a deal, but I guess it is rare. I’ve never really seen another left-handed guy.”
Humphrey has more uniqueness to his story.
Since beginning his career at the University of Oklahoma, he’s been in huddles with household quarterback names: Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray, Jalen Hurts, Spencer Rattler and now Patrick Mahomes. He said they’re more alike than different.
“Every single one of those guys had confidence. They had really good leadership traits. And that’s something you notice right away,” Humphrey said. “I’ve been very blessed to be with the quarterbacks I’ve had.”
12. Kansas City Chiefs
When Kansas City cut starting tackles Schwartz and Fisher early in the offseason, it seemed like the Chiefs might be headed for a rough offseason. Instead, they quickly turned a negative into a positive by signing star left guard Thuney and trading for new left tackle Brown. With Duvernay-Tardif and Niang back from an opt-out season, and Blythe, Humphrey and Long added to the mix, it’s possible that the Chiefs open the 2021 season with five new starters along the offensive line.
Breeland and Watkins weren’t clearly replaced, which raises concerns at corner and wide receiver. But Reed was a strong add up front, and second-round pick Bolton adds to a linebacker room that needed help. Overall, the Chiefs are slightly better than they were last season, and that’s troubling news for the rest of the league.
Around the NFL
Rivers was clear he’s focused on coaching high school football currently, but if there is an NFL team that needs him toward the tail end of the season, a comeback could be in the works.
“I’m just going to stay ready,” Rivers, 39, told Farmer on Tuesday. “I want to make sure I’m very clear: I’m not predicting I will play in December or January, for that matter. One, you’ve got to have somebody who wants you, and two, it’s got to be right.
“But I have not completely ruled that out.”
The New York Giants’ first day of padded practice at training camp ended abruptly Tuesday when coach Joe Judge angrily addressed and punished his players for a teamwide brawl that included starting quarterback Daniel Jones at the bottom of the pile.
Judge could be heard delivering an expletive-laden tirade at his team after the scuffle. He had them alternate running laps and doing pushups as punishment. Then the group assembled after more than 10 minutes of penalty-induced conditioning in a semicircle for one last lambasting before practice suddenly ended.
“Yeah, there are consequences for that kind of stuff,” Jones said. “That is the way it is in a game. You have to keep your cool. There are consequences, and it hurts your team. That was the message. I think everyone understands.”
That’s not the worst of it, however, because it’s being said that Nelson suffered the same injury as Wentz — the team announced — and will now undergo the same procedure. This means, like Wentz, Nelson will be sidelined for a projected 5-12 weeks, per Mike Wells of ESPN. So with the regular season not far off, there’s a chance the Colts will be without both their starting QB and arguably the best guard in all of football, and potentially for several games, depending on how each heals from their respective injury.
“Following our review of today’s indictment against Jeff Gladney, we have decided to release Jeff immediately. As we have previously said, we take these matters very seriously and condemn all forms of domestic violence. Due to the ongoing legal nature of this matter, we are unable to provide further comment,” the team said in a statement.
Gladney, 24, who was a first-round draft pick last year out of TCU, started 15 games for the Vikings as a rookie. He had not been around the team since his arrest in April in Dallas.
He is charged with domestic violence by impeding breathing, for “intentionally, knowingly and recklessly” causing bodily injury and applying pressure to the woman’s neck and throat, according to the indictment. The altercation grew out of an argument and took place over a span of more than two hours, according to a lawsuit recently filed against Gladney by the former girlfriend. She also alleged in the suit that he tried to bribe her and intimidate her into keeping quiet.
Kirkwood was attempting to catch a high pass, leaping just before Ibe knocked him to the ground. The good news: Kirkwood was moving his arms and legs as he was taken off the field in a cart and loaded into an ambulance.
“(Kirkwood) had movement in his legs. Didn’t have any pain in his neck. A lot of that obviously is precautionary,” Rhule said after practice. “We’ll wait to see after he’s looked at, what exactly it is. That was just the early signs.”
Kirkwood returned to the Panthers’ facility after being diagnosed with a concussion, according to team reporter Darin Gantt.
Ibe expressed his remorse for the hit on Kirkwood.
“I just felt bad,” said Ibe, via the Charlotte Observer. “I looked at him when I landed, and I just felt bad. I asked the trainers to tell him I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to hit him like that. It wasn’t intentional at all and I’m praying he’s OK.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
“The biggest thing is learning stuff from a wide receiver’s perspective,” said the fourth-year player about his new position coach. “When we line up wide, learning different routes, how to run those things. I think it’s helping all our game as a running back unit.”
When asked if he worked on routes during the offseason, Williams was confident.
“Yes,” he replied. “Always.”
Williams enters his fourth NFL season as the clear favorite to be the team’s second running back. After signing veterans LeSean McCoy and Le’Veon Bell duriing the past two seasons — with very disappointing results — the team appears confident about rotating Williams with starter Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
The presence of those veterans, however, never frustrated Williams.
“I don’t look at it as frustration,” he said. “I’m a competitor. So I just look at it as they’re just bringing in more competition. I went to LSU. Every year, we bring in five stars, four stars. So it was normal to me. I just come in. I compete. Do what I have to do — and just keep moving.”
A tweet to make you think
Creed Humphrey’s anchor was fantastic. Thuney worth every dollar. Smith showed his strength today. Chris Jones and Wharton had great days rushing. Bolton and Gay are doing really well in coverage. Marcus Kemp had a great day. https://t.co/wfysmV7hiC— Nick Jacobs (@Jacobs71) August 3, 2021