The Las Vegas Raiders’ first cut-down moves of training camp offered one surprise as the team released veteran wide receiver Demarcus Robinson.
He was signed in the offseason to be a rotational receiver. However, the speedster didn’t do much in training camp and he was lost in the shuffle in a talented receiver room. The Raiders did Robinson a favor, cutting him now so he has a chance to catch on elsewhere. The roster is now at 85 players. It must be down to 53 players on Aug. 30.
5 - Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce
Kansas City Chiefs · TE
Kelce is the standard at the tight end position heading into 2022 — though the 49ers’ George Kittle is a close second. Kelce has averaged 5.5 catches per game and 70.9 receiving yards per game in his career, both most by a tight end in NFL history. Throwing to him is another guy considered to be the best at his position (depending on whom you ask). Kelce is one of just two players to post at least 5,000 receiving yards since 2018, when Mahomes became the Chiefs’ starter, and he’s added 35 touchdown catches in that span. That likely doesn’t happen without Mahomes, whose “down” performances often result in Chiefs wins. The connection between these two is almost second to none. Kelce finds ways to get and stay open on any given play, even when double-teamed, and Mahomes routinely gets the ball to his biggest and most reliable target, whether he’s facing pressure in the pocket or is on the run. Mahomes and Kelce are a huge reason the Chiefs have made four straight AFC title game appearances. They should be as successful as ever in 2022, even with Tyreek Hill now gone.
Kansas City Chiefs
Justin Reid, S
PFF grade in 2021: 50.9
What went wrong: Left as a primarily free safety with no semblance of talent around him, Reid was hung out to dry a lot in the Texans’ defense last season. He didn’t allow many catches (13), but almost all of them went for big plays (21.4 yards per reception allowed). — PFF
Outlook for 2022: The Chiefs were aware of this and made Reid a priority signing in free agency anyway. Look for the Chiefs to try to use Juan Thornhill as their coverage safety and Reid as more of an in-the-box type of player. But opponents will no doubt try to find favorable matchups with Reid, and the bottom line is that he needs to play better in these situations than he did last season. — Adam Teicher
1. Kansas City Chiefs
If you want to fade the Chiefs, go for it. They had the second-healthiest offense in the NFL last year. Chances are, their depth will be tested more in 2022. They also face the hardest schedule in the NFL, according to projected win totals. Oh, and they traded Tyreek Hill.
Me? I’m not betting against Patrick Mahomes, Andy Reid, and a top-five offensive line. Even with their struggles last year—and those were real, particularly in the first half of the season—the Chiefs still finished second in offensive DVOA. In four seasons with Mahomes as the starter, they’ve finished first (in 2018 and 2019) and second (in 2020 and 2021).
It’s not like the cupboard is bare. The Chiefs still have tight end Travis Kelce as a no. 1 receiving option. Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Mecole Hardman offer speed on the outside. JuJu Smith-Schuster can work the middle of the field. And second-round pick Skyy Moore is a fun wild card.
One area the Chiefs could benefit is getting a little regression to the mean: They turned the ball over on 14.3 percent of their possessions last year, which ranked 26th and was easily their highest rate during the Mahomes era. That number is likely to come down in 2022. The Chiefs turned it over on just 9 percent of their drives from 2018 to 2020 –that was the fifth-best rate in the league. It might not look the same as it always has, and maybe there will be some growing pains early, but I trust Mahomes and Reid to figure it out.
Washington · CB
Kansas City Chiefs
Drafted: Round 1, No. 21 overall
Choosing between WR Skyy Moore, DE George Karlaftis and McDuffie is beyond challenging, as each will be counted on this season. However, as a cornerback in the pass-happy AFC West, McDuffie is most likely to significantly impact Kansas City’s chances of winning the loaded division and advancing deep into the playoffs.
Frank Clark, DE, Chiefs
Clark has somehow made three consecutive Pro Bowls, but the production has been lacking over the last two seasons. He had only 4.5 sacks and 22 tackles in 14 regular season games last year as he enters his age 29 season.
Around the NFL
For the first time since losing Davante Adams this offseason, Rodgers expressed frustration with the group.
“The young guys, especially young receivers, we’ve got to be way more consistent,” Rodgers said. “A lot of drops, a lot of bad route decisions, running the wrong route. We’ve got to get better in that area.”
The frustration wasn’t directed at Allen Lazard, who Rodgers believes is a legitimate No. 1. Nor was it pointed at Randall Cobb, who Rodgers called one of the premier slot receivers in the league, or free agent pickup Sammy Watkins, who Rodgers said had his best day.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
Cornerback Trent McDuffie, safety Bryan Cook — and cornerbacks Joshua Williams, Jaylen Watson and Nazeeh Johnson — have all shown some level of promise during training camp practice and Saturday’s preseason opener against the Chicago Bears. All are contending for spots on the 53-man roster — which became more obvious when veteran corner Lonnie Johnson Jr. was cut on Monday.
Watson seems to be on the right side of the bubble right now, but there are no guarantees until cutdown day. While it’s every man for himself, Watson doesn’t have that mentality. He confirmed that when speaking to reporters after Monday’s training camp practice at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph.
“Me and the rookies — ‘Fab Five’ — we’re super close,” Watson shared. “All five of us. We’re just blessed to be here. [We] come in every day and work hard; just try to stack the days and get better. You’re either getting better or you’re getting worse, so we’re coming in hungry — trying to do our best to make this team.”
A tweet to make you think
One of the biggest developments in this training camp is the number of players Willie G seems to be making in coverage. Looks like he’s taken some major strides from a year ago. https://t.co/kU1fRqbvGo— Rocky Magaña (@RockyMagana) August 17, 2022