During Monday’s practice session, it appeared the Kansas City Chiefs’ offense wasn’t running on all cylinders — which the offensive coordinator discussed with reporters.
“Being a competitor, we all want it to be perfect, but we understand the ebb and flow of practice,” said Bieniemy. “Sometimes you have good days, sometimes the guys on the other side have good days. The only thing you want to see is guys making sure that they continue to play with the effort that we expect them to play with. Then, when it’s all said and done with, we’ll coach it up on tape and just clean it up. So, [Monday], we didn’t have a very good day, but I’ll have an opportunity to really evaluate it once we go in there and look at it on tape.”
Then the veteran safety who joined the Chiefs in free agency talked about his early impressions of the team.
“Spags [is] pretty much hands-on,” he declared. “You can see him out on the field, talking to guys — sometimes after plays, whether you did the right thing or not — I mean, he’s pretty hands-on on his details and stuff like that. Very, very detailed kind of coaching. Gets you racing every day. It’s exciting to be with that guy.”
And his position coaches: Dave Merritt and Sam Madison, whom he praised as ex-players.
“The biggest thing with those two guys is that they’re of one accord,” Parks noted. “It makes it easy for you to adjust your playbook — especially in a playbook like this — [and] it makes your job a whole lot easier.”
But most of all, Parks said he is enjoying the chemistry he’s seeing all around him.
“I think the best thing about being here is the camaraderie of the locker room,” he said. “It’s a lot of togetherness in there — a lot of guys with smiling faces every day. Guys come in and work. Being around Tyrann Mathieu [is] one of those things that’s kind of a joy to me. He’s one of my favorite guys in the league.”
We had a scary development with the superstar wide receiver.
Reports indicated that Hill came down the hill with his teammates fully dressed and ready for practice. But shortly after the session began, he was spotted in the medical tent with his pads off — lifting weights.
Then, he was seen with his pads back on — apparently ready to return to practice. But before long, he was observed walking back up the hill to the locker room.
The nature of the issue is not yet known. However, it’s always a good sign when a player leaves the field under his own power, rather than being returned to the locker room on a cart.
When practice concluded, we learned that Hill was suffering from tendonitus in his knee. The team kept him out of Wednesday’s practice and returned him to the field on Thursday.
Then the head coach talked about the new linebackers and defensive backs were shaping up — particularly Willie Gay Jr. and Nick Bolton at the second level.
“I like both of them — I mean, they’re making plays,” said the head coach. “I was curious to see how they’d do with the pads on — with the running game coming at them — and I thought they did a nice job with that. Good instincts.”
Those instincts helped both players snag interceptions from quarterback Patrick Mahomes during the last two days — which didn’t bother the offensive-minded Reid one bit.
“Yeah, it’s good to see those linebackers doing that,” he noted. “You’re trying to fit the ball into the tight windows in there — and for those guys to react the way they have, I think that does nothing but make us better.”
After Wednesday’s practice session, the defensive coordinator discussed moving cornerback L’Jaruis Sneed to the outside.
“That’s a challenging thing,” said Spagnuolo. “He’s doing to play inside most downs — and then all of the sudden when we change the package, he’s outside — but he’s handled it real well. If you guys remember, last year, he was outside at the beginning (due to Bashaud Breeland’s suspension), got hurt, and when we brought him back, we wanted to get the best 11. And that was hard learning nickel in the middle, but he’s doing an excellent job.”
In the nickel, with Charvarius Ward on the outside and Sneed inside, the Chiefs are still looking for their answer opposite Ward — and it appears to be between Mike Hughes, Deandre Baker and Rashad Fenton.
“It is a good competition right now,” said Spagnuolo. “Now, Deandre wasn’t out there [Wednesday], but all three of those guys are working hard. Rashad takes on the added responsibility of having to play some nickel, the other two guys stay out there the whole time, but I’m pleased right now with what those three guys are doing.”
On their midweek Out of Structure podcast, Ron Kopp Jr. and Matt Stagner discussed a play we could see more this year: the G-T Counter.
The 2020 team did use traditional gap runs, but at a very minimal rate. One of the times they did so resulted in an important touchdown: a six-yard run by running back Darrel Williams in the AFC Championship game.
An in-game example of the GT Counter that was all the fuss on #Chiefs twitter Saturday— Ron Kopp Jr. (@Ron_Kopp) August 4, 2021
Wylie/Remmers down block + Allegretti kickout opens hole. Fisher pulls through and blocks playside LB, even though he nearly gets flipped over. Darrel TD
Hope we see it more w/ the 2021 OL https://t.co/ly5kUpTyyV pic.twitter.com/FTEXSo7gVv
Besides the line’s blocking assignments, this play can also turn into a passing opportunity away from the run direction. With the back side tackle pulling, the defensive end across from him is unblocked. The Chiefs have used a motion from a running back or a player like wide receiver Tyreek Hill into the flat, toward the direction of the unblocked defensive end. Mahomes will read the end, seeing if he reacts hard to the run action or if he stays to possibly defend the motioned player in the flat.
If the edge defender does commit to the running back, Mahomes can pull it and have three pass-catching options while the defense is likely short-handed due to the reaction to the run fake.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, the undrafted rookie spoke about how much he’s enjoying playing next to Tyrann Mathieu.
“Just watching him in college — when I was in high school — just seeing the type of ball player he was,” said Key. “He’s a great leader. He knows how to give me tips and stuff to just take out there on the field and kind of translate that to my game.”
Key said that he’s getting that kind of help from the rest of the team’s veteran players, too — and he loves the atmosphere.
“They’re just the kind of guys that love football,” he marveled. “I can tell every day — when guys come out here to work. And in the locker room, it’s always ball — just their passion for the game. That’s kind of why I enjoy playing with these guys.”
And Key said that he’s impressed with how the players interact with each other.
“The bond that everybody kind of creates in the locker room is really great,” he said. “They take on everybody — no matter if they’re the first-round pick or [an] undrafted guy — everybody’s just trying to create a bond.”
Then the fourth-year player took a turn with the media, talking about his new teammates — including fellow defensive tackle Jarran Reed.
“Reed’s a good dude; I like him,” Nnadi said. “He’s a real down-to-earth dude. He’s very intuitive knowing he has to catch up with the speed. He’s always asking questions in the meeting room — make sure he knows all his Ps and Qs. He’s going to be great for us...
“I feel like we’ve been very consistent in just playing the run. I feel like right now, it’s a good fit for all of us. Having Chris on the edge, pretty much doing what he does best: dominating his opposing O-lineman. I feel like it’s a good matchup for him, being on the edge, going against the tackles. I feel like it’s really balanced.”
And Nnadi thinks the Chiefs defensive line gets better as it competes against the newcomers along the offensive line’s interior: right guard Trey Smith and center Creed Humphrey.
“Trey, he’s a very hard worker,” said Nnadi. “I can see that because I’ve been talking to him just briefly throughout OTAs. I think he’ll be a good player here. Creed, I feel like he’s going to be a great center, strong inside punch, making sure he has a sturdy base. I feel like those two will be really good this year.”
After we learned that offensive guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif unexplained absence from Friday’s practice was because of a hand injury, Uncle Dave took the press podium — saying that
wide receiver tight end Jody (Joe) Fortson stands a good chance of making the final roster.
“Jody has really stepped up,” said Toub. “He put on like 20 pounds of muscle, and you can see it in his play. He’s playing a lot bigger, he’s playing with a lot more confidence, and the same thing is going on special teams. He’s holding up guys stronger. He doesn’t look like a wide receiver anymore; he looks like a tight end. So, he’s really stepped it up, and he’s definitely one of the guys that I’m looking forward to seeing.”
So too is undrafted safety Devon Key, who has impressed on the other side of the football.
“Devon Key is another one,” added Toub. “Obviously, being a young guy, it’s going to be important he goes in there and makes plays on special teams because he’s really not in a battle for maybe a one or two spot, but maybe a third spot, and it’s going to come down to special teams and what he can do there. He’s definitely that guy.”