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Chiefs training camp notebook: Eric Bieniemy embraces St. Joe heat

The offense struggled as the temperature warmed up at Missouri Western State University.

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs Training Camp Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Chiefs offense does not have many bad sessions; in a training camp that has only seen 14 practices, two of those rare bad sessions have come on days when offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy was scheduled to speak to the media after practice.

One of them was Monday.

“Today, got some good work out there,” started Bieniemy. “I thought the guys grinded through. It was hot. It was one of those days where you find out about the personality of our team — and you know what? Those guys stuck it out, and they grinded together. We’ll take a look at it on tape and go from there.”

Bieniemy was not lying when it came to the temperature during the workout. When practice began around 9:15 a.m. the temperature was already in the low 80s — and the heat only increased as the day went on.

It was more than likely the most uncomfortable day so far.

“These are the days that help to develop championship teams,” noted Bieniemy. “It’s hot. We’re tired. We’ve been beating up on each other for the past few weeks or whatever. These are the days that you look back upon that help define the character of the team. It don’t always have to be perfect. Yes, we want to continue to strive for that perfection. But these are the days that we got to learn how to play together and learn how to drag our ass across that finish line together. And that’s all that matters. That’s why I appreciate being out here and having these opportunities — to come and do this in training camp, because these are the days that help define those moments that build success later on in the season.”

The defense won the day, but there were positives to take away. The offensive line has continued to build chemistry, and their reps together will be put to the test when the Chiefs play the San Francisco 49ers in their first preseason game on Saturday night.

At this writing, the Chiefs are projected to start an entirely new offensive line Week 1 than they did Week 1 last year. That means the five-man harmony needs to be there.

“Their communication has been very good,” said Bieniemy of the O-line. “Now, I will say this, the thing that I appreciate is the job that coach (Andy) Heck does with them in that O-line room. He has a bunch of characters in there. He does a great job of getting those guys to gel together. The unique aspect is that we’re still growing together because there are a number of things that we’re putting in and presenting to these guys. But on top of that, our defense is doing a great job of mixing it up as well. So, these are the days that you love and appreciate because it helps us to grow. Ideally, as a coach, you want everything to be perfect. That’s not realistic. That’s why we do what we do.

“The beauty of it is when the mistakes happen, it’s a learning opportunity, so we just go in there and make sure that we do a great job of explaining. And the thing that I appreciate about all those guys up front is that they do a great job of correcting it, and they talk amongst each other. If you guys could sit in our meeting rooms, the communication aspect of it is great, and that’s what makes it fun working here because those guys know exactly what they need to do and how they need to do it, and they’re humble enough to express themselves that way.”

Bieniemy reiterated that a lot of the time, quarterback Patrick Mahomes enters into the film room already aware of the mistakes he made on each play.

“I’ve said this before — before you even have an opportunity to correct him in the film room, he’s already letting you know, ‘Hey, on this play I screwed this up,’ or, ‘On this play, I should have done this.’ So, those are the things that you love about him. But yes, we’re continuing to stay on him about the little things. The thing about it, I know he’ll be in there ready to go. He’ll have all the corrections ready-made, and you know what, let’s keep it moving, let’s make sure that we’re set and ready to go for the next day.”

Monday was probably the worst day of camp for the Chiefs’ offense, so Bieniemy and the staff will attempt to correct the mistakes as they head into Tuesday. The light workout will be followed by a day off. Pads will be back on Thursday, when the high temperature is expected to be 95 degrees.

But Bieniemy, who undertook training for nine seasons as a pro before beginning his coaching career, embraces such an opportunity.

“As a player, it’s hard,” said Bieniemy. “It’s a mental challenge. OK? And you have to find a way to put yourself in that frame of mind. I always tell these guys, ‘It takes uncommon men and uncommon people to do what we do.’ Because common folks... it’s easy to tap out and it’s easy to give in. We have to find a way to dig into our core to help us show that regardless of how physically or mentally tired I am, I got to find a way to strain the finish for the next play, and that’s all that matters.

“And if we can learn how to do that together, we’re going to have an opportunity to accomplish a lot of great things, and that’s what I appreciate about today and days like this — because more than anything, it ain’t necessarily about how many points you score. You want to find out who’s all in.”

Observations

  • The weather in St. Joseph Friday morning was sunny with a temperature in the low 80s to start practice, with a real feel of 84 degrees. It was one of the warmest days of camp so far.
  • Jerrick McKinnon saw more action with the first team with Darrel Williams sidelined due to a knee injury. McKinnon had a reception in team work that would have gone for a 70-to-80-yard touchdown. He remains a player we expect to make the team thanks to his abilities as a pass-catcher.
  • As noted, the offense struggled to get anything going. The defense swallowed most run plays, and Patrick Mahomes took several would-be sacks; he had a tough day getting in sync with the team’s receivers.
  • Flat-out unlucky, but two of the offense’s worst camp days have coincided with offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy speaking to the media.
  • One of the bright spots for the Chiefs offense on Monday was wide receiver Marcus Kemp, who continues to put together solid offensive tape — which included a red-zone touchdown from Chad Henne. I noted on Twitter that I think Kemp could be in the running for third-best receiver this camp, behind only Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman. He’s making the case.
  • On the other side of the coin, rookie wideout Cornell Powell has been disappointing in his first training camp. Bieniemy was asked about Powell’s progress during his presser: “Cornell is a rookie, and he’s learning. First of all, he’s a beautiful soul, he’s a great kid. He has a tremendous amount of talent in front of him, and the thing that I appreciate about those guys is that they support one another. So, if he does something wrong, they’re on him, ‘Hey man, listen, pick your head up and let’s go line up the next play.’ The best thing about him is that he understands the importance of coming to work every single day, and that’s what I appreciate about him. Now, is he quite where we want him to be? No. Is he working in that direction? Yes, he is, and I appreciate his work ethic each and every day.”
  • Defensive lineman Chris Jones has really progressed in coming off the edge as camp has gone on — and Monday was an absolute showcase.
  • Cornerback Rashad Fenton did well in an extended look as the outside cornerback opposite Charvarius Ward on Monday. L’Jarius Sneed manned the slot.
  • Friends-of-the-site Herbie Teope and Sam McDowell of The Kansas City Star posted a bunch of videos of one-on-ones to their Twitter accounts.
  • Left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. has continued to look poor in one-on-ones, but he is a different offensive lineman in 11-on-11. It seems like most Chiefs pass rushers choose to speed-rush Brown in the one-on-one drill, and they usually find success. Then he manages to stonewall defenders in scrimmage work.
  • The offensive linemen generally had a better time in one-on-one work Monday — especially right guard Trey Smith, who has just put together a phenomenal camp.
  • Cornerback BoPete Keyes picked off Shane Buechele in 11-on-11 work. Keyes has been playing well as of late.

Press conferences (Spotify)

If you can’t see the embed below, click here for Apple iTunes.

Injury report

  • Returned to practice: defensive tackle Tyler Clark (neck), defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi (undisclosed)
  • Did not practice (COVID-19 list): offensive lineman Darryl Williams
  • 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), linebacker Willie Gay (concussion protocol), defensive end Malik Herring (ACL), right guard Kyle Long (tibia), defensive end Alex Okafor (hamstring), right tackle Mike Remmers (back spasms), running back Darrel Williams (knee)
  • Did not participate in team drills (injury): n/a
  • Injured at practice Monday: defensive end Joshua Kaindoh (hamstring)

Tweet of the day

Our John Dixon compiled all of Monday’s tweets here. Here is the tweet of the day:

Jarran Reed did his whale impression a couple of times on Monday.

Quote of the day

Offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy on what message he had for the offensive line on Monday: “Well, I don’t know if I can say that message right now.”

What’s next?

The Chiefs will return to the practice field for a padless practice Tuesday at 9:15 a.m. Arrowhead Time. After the workout, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo will speak to the media.