August 8th Chiefs Training Camp Practice Observations

The Chiefs and the fans watching recieved the gift of fall football weather in early August on Monday morning. It was 73 degrees and overcast, with a light mist toward the end of practice.

Today's practice was relatively short (9:15 until around 10:30) with no pads and in general little to no player-to-player contact inclduing any hitting, tackling, etc. So everything in this report about an offensive player gaining yards after catch carries that as a caveat.

But the Chiefs did get what seemed to be some productive work in today, alternating between offense vs. defense situations and special teams sessions that were focused on punting situations. It was a 10-10-10 practice, which Pete Sweeney described on Twitter a few days ago:

After warm-ups was a short period of position drills. The defense was on the closer side to the bleachers and the offense was on the far field. The linebackers and d-line were split up and were both running drills that involved trash cans turned upside down. Part of the focus, to a lay person like me, seemed to be getting low.

On the far field from the bleachers, Mahomes and the other quarterbacks were throwing uncontested passes to receivers running routes. The first round of applause from the crowd of the morning came when Mahomes found Mecole Hardman for a catch that was around 50 yards. Again, uncontested.

Someone blew the air horn and offense and defense ran to get set up on the field nearest the bleachers. The ball was set just short of mid-field and the line of scrimmage didn't change for the first six snaps, regardless of the outcome of a give play. This was true for a lot of today's practice: a steady line of scrimmage. So they weren't running a two-minute drill and trying to move down the field, but focused more on running different plays from the same line of scrimmage as well as the same down-and-distance. The line of scrimmage changed only occasionally in session and in some sessions didn't change at all. Mahomes took the first ten snaps. His first seven throws consisted of completions to Travis Kelce and JuJu Smith-Schuster, his two favorite targets of the day.
Snap 1: Kelce for a short to moderate gain
Snap 2: Smith-Schuster for a moderate gain
Snap 3: Completion to Kelce
Snap 4: Smith-Schuster
Snap 5: Kelce
Snap 6: Kelce
Snap 7: Smith-Schuster.
(line of scrimmage changes to the defense's 20 yard-line)
Snap 8: Touchdown catch in the end zone from Mahomes to Marques Valdes-Scantling
(line of scrimmage changes to the 10 yard-line)
Snap 9: Touchdown catch in the end zone by JuJu Smith-Schuster
Snap 10: Touchdown catch by Mecole Hardman in the front-right corner of the end zone. He took several quick steps to assure he was in bounds.

Field direction changed when the second-team offense came out. The second and third-team offenses today got to see time against the first-team defense. Chad Henne had a long completion to Cornell Powell on the right sight and then found Omar Bayless for a moderate gain in the middle of the field. Sneed knocked down Henne's next attempt and Willie Gay dropped into coverage and broke up the attempt after that.

During QB Dustin Crum's snaps during this drill, his first pass was too high over Isaiah Pacheo's reach. He found Jerrion Ealy over the middle and had completions to Cornell Powell and Corey Coleman.

After that round of offense vs. defense came the first of two rounds of special teams sessions focused on punting. The first session began with Tommy Townsend punting out of the Chiefs end zone, with the ball being snapped to him from around the 10. Catching the punts but not attempting to run with them today were Skyy Moore, Trent McDuffie, Corey Coleman, and I believe Omar Bayless. Skyy Moore dropped one of Townsend's longer punts that reached the 30 yard-line. After not bringing it in, Moore let out a loud "DOH!" in frustration.

Next, another offense vs. defensive situation. For each play, the line of scrimmage was the offense's 30-yard-line.
Mahomes snaps:
Snap 1: Completion to Kelce
Snap 2: Completion to moderate-deep right to Valdes-Scantling, who was able to catch it low facing Mahomes, straighten back, and turn around and run more for some yards after catch (but again no one was trying to hit him today).
Snap 3: Kelce over the middle for a moderate gain
Snap 4: Mahomes and Justin Watson missed on a long ball up the middle of the field. Incomplete.
Snap 5: Completion to Smith-Schuster
Snap 6: Screen to Jerick McKinnon left side
Snap 7: Completion to Kelce, left side of the field for a nice gain.
Snap 8: Mahomes and Hardman almost connected on a 50-yard ball that Hardman tried to bring in at the 20-yard-line, but was just a step short of being in just the right spot. He tried to stretch out his right hand for the catch but it was incomplete.
Snap 9: Smith-Schuster completion and he dodged around defenders for some no-pads, no-hitting, but good moves yards after catch.
Snap 10: Mahomes to Hardman, 40-yard completion for what would have likely been a touchdown in live play. Only one defender was close to Hardman and Hardman had only had to slow his stride a bit to make the catch so he likely would have broke away with his speed for the touchdown.

When Henne and the second-team offense took the field this time, Henne had a compleition to Pacheo followed by a nice break-up by Sneed. He then had a deep left completion to Cornell Powell. Dustin Crum came in at QB next and rolled to his right and was on-target while running with a throw to Matt Bushman who was shadowing Crum's roll to the right, but it was incomplete. Chris Jones would have had a sack on Crum on one of the next plays had he been able to make contact. Crum through back-to-back interceptions, the first to Sneed and the next to Willie Gay.

After that, another special teams punting session. This time, the team was punting from mid-field and the focus was pinning the opposing team's offense deep. So there as an opposing team returner near the end zone, but punting team players would run down and practice finding and downing the ball. Nazeeh Johnson did a nice job swatting the ball out of the end zone without stepping in so a teammate could down the ball at the 3.

In the next and final offense vs. defense session (which would be the final session of practice), the line of scrimmage was set at what I've heard some commentators refer to as the "pink zone": the 30-yard line of the defense. So well within scoring range on a given play.

Mahomes Snap 1: I missed it, but it was a short completion to someone. Probably that Kelce guy.
Snap 2: Compleition to Skyy Moore who continued to run for the touchdown. This was the far end of the field from where I was sitting so I couldn't tell if any of the defenders would have had the right angle on him or not.
Snap 3: see snap 1
Snap 4: JuJu for a nice gain
Snap 5: handoff to Mecole Hardman running left-to-right behind Mahomes on an end-around play. Hardman found the edge and was able to turn upfield for what would be a nice gain.
Snap 6: Mahomes to Josh Gordon to the left with yards after the catch
Snap 7: Handoff to Clyde Edwards-Helaire for a nice run to the left
Snap 8: Shovel up the middle to Noah Gray
Snap 9: Nice play for a sizeable gain by Jerrick McKinnon
Snap 10: Completion to Skyy Moore for a moderate gain to the right

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