The Kansas City Chiefs have been struggling to get production from the running back position over the last few years. The team’s high-powered passing attack has allowed it to overcome the lack of an elite backfield, but this flaw could be exposed following a receiver’s room overhaul in 2022.
The Chiefs should be working to bring in a top-tier back to improve this situation. To free up room on the roster, the club could shop disappointing backup Ronald Jones around.
Jones was brought in early in free agency but hasn’t separated himself during training camp. He’s buried behind Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Jerick McKinnon on the depth chart and worked with the third- and fourth-string offense in the preseason.
The 2018 second-rounder racked up nearly 1,000 rushing yards and scored seven rushing touchdowns while starting for the eventual champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers two years ago. He’s only 25 years old and could still return to form, but it seems Kansas City isn’t the right location to maximize the back’s talents.
The New Orleans Saints could be a better fit for Jones.
The team doesn’t have much in the way of depth behind star starter Alvin Kamara, who has yet to play a full season since his rookie year in 2017. Primary backup Mark Ingram II is well on the wrong side of 30 and only accumulated 260 yards and one touchdown for the club in seven games last year.
Jones would push for the No. 2 role quickly in the Big Easy. For what would almost surely cost no more than a late-Day 3 pick—potentially even a conditional one—it’s a great move for the Saints to shore up their improving offense.
Wide receiver Mecole Hardman (groin) and defensive tackle Chris Jones (back), who missed Saturday’s preseason game against Washington because of injury, returned to practice Monday.
Hardman suffered his injury during a team drill on the second to last day of training camp. The fourth-year receiver received attention in the medical tent before departing the field.
Jones dealt with back spasms on the second to last day of training camp. But unlike Hardman, Jones didn’t participate in practice and left the field while the team was still in the stretching and conditioning portion of the morning workout.
Hardman and Jones missed practice on the final day of training camp.
While Hardman and Jones practiced Monday, wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster continues to deal with a knee injury.
Mahomes is the first NFL player to join the game’s Icon Series. Here are the other athletes who were previously added as playable characters:
Chloe Kim (snowboarding)
Harry Kane (soccer; Tottenham Hotspur)
LeBron James (basketball; Los Angeles Lakers)
Marco Reus (soccer; Borussia Dortmund)
Naomi Osaka (tennis)
Neymar (soccer; Paris Saint-Germain)
Fortnite has also released NFL jersey skins into the game, so you could have played as Chiefs No. 15, but it didn’t show Mahomes’ name on the uniform.
To close, we looked at a trait that leads to so many highlights throughout an NFL season. Quarterbacks won’t always be able to sit in the pocket and throw darts. With pressure coming off the edge or up the middle, getting outside the pocket and making off-schedule throws on the run is important in today’s game. Those are the off-platform passes from different arm angles and body positions, often on the move.
1. Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs
2. Josh Allen, Bills
3. Aaron Rodgers, Packers
Best of the best: Yes, Patrick Mahomes can stand up and handle pressure in the pocket when a defense bears down on him, but what makes him such a play-wrecker is how he avoids the initial rush, buys time and then turns what looks like a massive negative play into an explosive offensive play. He’s creative, mobile, fearless and determined on every snap. Since taking over as starter in 2018, Mahomes has a league-leading 37 touchdown passes from outside the pocket. — Yates
Mahomes signed on as the face of NFL All Day, which sells NFTs, or non-fungible tokens that can be bought and sold, of the best NFL plays of the upcoming season and throughout the league’s history. Users of the NFL All Day platform are to receive an image of Mahomes, according to a release.
Vancouver-based Dapper Labs Inc. is the force behind NFL All Day, in partnership with OneTeam Partners, the group licensing partner for the NFL Players Association.
The move is less notable as an endorsement deal — Forbes estimates the value of Mahomes’ endorsement income at $20 million — than it is one of the first major NFT efforts publicized after a crash of the cryptocurrency market, both of which are based on blockchain technology and share many enthusiasts.
Around the NFL
Mayfield won what the Panthers described as an open competition against 2021 starter Sam Darnold, although league sources said the job was his to lose all along.
“When we started the process, we said we were looking at three things,’’ coach Matt Rhule said. “No. 1, mastery of the offense; No. 2, situational football excellence; and No. 3, moving the ball and getting guys involved.
“Baker has made a lot of improvement, a lot of growth in all three areas in a short amount of time.’’
Mariota making best of second chance so far. With a second shot as a starter and another opportunity to play under Arthur Smith, Marcus Mariota has been impressive through two preseason starts. In four preseason series (three on Monday versus the Jets), Mariota has quarterbacked the Falcons to 17 points with a rushing and a passing touchdown. On Monday, Mariota started splendidly and finished his night 6 of 10 for 132 yards, a TD and a 137.5 rating. Highlighted by a 51-yard connection with tight end Kyle Pitts on the opening drive, Mariota was dialed in on the second drive, completing 3 of 4 passes for 65 yards, including a 13-yard score over the middle to Olamide Zaccheaus. Rookie Desmond Ridder has looked good, too, but for now this is Mariota’s job and, so far, he’s shown he’s going to do what it takes to hold on to it.
Drake said in a phone interview with The Associated Press on Monday that general manager Dave Ziegler called him personally to let him know the team was moving on.
“He let me know how they were planning on moving forward, how really uncustomary it was for him to tell me himself, and that was just a testament to the respect he has for me as a player, and as a man,’’ Drake said.
Drake, 28, was returning from a broken right ankle suffered in Week 13 last season. He had played in all three of the Raiders’ preseason games thus far and told ESPN after the game against the Minnesota Vikings on Aug. 14 that the running backs were the “heartbeat” and “engine” of the team.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
“It was the perfect situation out there, we had the wind blowing,” said special teams coordinator Dave Toub on Monday. “In pregame, he likes to hit long ones because it makes him feel like when we do kick a 50-yarder, he feels real close because he just banged 21 yards further than he just kicked the 53.”
But on Saturday, there was a problem with the logic — one that came in the third quarter.
“Then he missed the 53,” said Toub. “That wasn’t like him to miss that kick. I’ll let him tell you about it, but it was not normal for him. He was spot on in pregame for sure. The situation was good and he was banging those kicks.”
The preseason is a time for everybody to work out the kinks — and that includes Butker, who, when speaking to reporters last week, explained he made technique changes to his kicks.
He knows he has otherworldly power, but now he feels his kicks will be more efficient. Through two preseason games, Toub said the Chiefs feel good about him kicking from 55-plus yards out.
“We’re going to keep him 58 — 40-yard line would probably be his range,” said Toub. “Get the ball to the 40 then you have a really good legitimate shot to get it.
“That kind of kick there — [one from near 70 yards] — you do at the end of the half. You’ve got the wind behind you, no time left on the clock. You know, you’re just going to take a shot.
A tweet to make you think
The Chiefs were another team to put in a waiver claim on new Commanders TE Kendall Blanton, who went to Washington due to higher waiver priority, per source.— Field Yates (@FieldYates) August 22, 2022
It was a near homecoming, as Blanton is from the Kansas City area and played his college ball at Missouri.