It is a glorious time of year. This week, the Kansas City Chiefs begin their training camp at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, Missouri, signaling the start of their 2022 campaign. On Thursday, public practices will begin — giving Chiefs Kingdom its first look at this year’s team.
Matt Stagner and I got in our training camp preview during our latest Arrowhead Pride “Out of Structure” podcast, pairing that with answers to your questions submitted via Twitter.
(Listen to the podcast above or by clicking here. It is also available on Spotify).
While you’re watching this year’s training camp practices, there will be a lot of moving parts — and especially this year, a lot of new faces. There’s no way to watch every corner of the field on a particular day, so we’ve picked out three positions that will be the most interesting to follow.
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes has never had to deal with so much turnover in his wide receiver corps.
During his career, Tyreek Hill, Demarcus Robinson and Byron Pringle — even Sammy Watkins — have been the main wideouts. None of them are now in camp, meaning there will be many new relationships to build between Mahomes and his pass-catchers.
It will be intriguing to see how the newcomers are utilized. Will Marquez Valdes-Scantling’s route tree be more expansive than his role in Green Bay? How much will Juju Smith-Schuster move around the formation — and be used in both the running and passing game? Can Skyy Moore penetrate the first-team lineup and carve out a role — and how creative will his responsibilities be? Head coach Andy Reid mentioned Moore having “running back legs” in one of his first press conferences of training camp. In order to get him on the field, could Moore sometimes be used in a backfield alignment?
As camp beings, many eyes will be on the team’s biggest question mark.
Along the defensive line, there aren’t as many new faces; rookie George Karlaftis is the only new name projected to play a significant role. So he will attract attention — but if he shows out, proceed with caution. The Chiefs will be cycling through players at both tackle positions, which may make things easier on all defensive ends during team periods.
Remember when Frank Clark was skinny pic.twitter.com/S1ctb9oNR3— Ron Kopp Jr. (@Ron_Kopp) July 11, 2022
It’s also a very important camp for Frank Clark, who showed off his physique in an early-July Instagram post — while also indicating that he’s been on a four-month stretch without liquor. After years of contractual comfort in Kansas City, Clark’s deal finally gives the team a reasonable way to cut ties in the 2023 offseason — meaning that Clark is in a de facto contract year.
Matt’s take: “Frank Clark is the one that could really swing this defense one way or the other. If he’s last year’s Frank Clark, they’re going to really struggle... If he’s the closer once again, then this could be a lot more fun.”
Away from the starters, the search for impactful pass rushers among the depth players should be intriguing. Among these, the most fascinating may be second-year edge rusher Joshua Kaindoh. An injury shortened his rookie year, but the former five-star high school recruit is 6 feet 6 — and has very impressive athletic testing numbers.
My favorite part about training camp is that the team can’t hide their intentions. Until Week 1, these padded practices are the only time coaches can truly experiment with players and schemes in a full-speed setting; while there will be preseason games, the starters will have limited playing time and the play-calling will naturally be vanilla.
Starter Clyde Edwards-Helaire will begin camp on the PUP (physically-unable-to-perform) list. If the team wants to get him more involved in the passing game, they will want to practice it in St. Joseph. If Ronald Jones is going to be more than an early-down back, those opportunities will begin at training camp. If rookie Isiah Pacheco is impressing the staff, he is going to get more and more touches as the weeks go on.
Pass protection in the backfield will also be tested — and could be the reason one player makes the team and another does not. Watch for which backs hold their own in either the one-on-one or team blocking drills. That could also indicate which backs will be trusted on third downs.
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