The Kansas City Chiefs have signed 14 players to their practice squad ahead of their Week 1 matchup with the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, September 11. It’s likely that two more players will be added in the coming days.
This season, the NFL is maintaining the expanded 16-player practice squads that will probably become a lasting relic of two seasons spent managing the COVID-19 pandemic. Teams are now allowed to sign up to six vested veterans to their squads — although only 10 players may have two or more seasons of NFL experience.
This year, teams will be allowed to elevate up to two players to their gameday rosters (up to three times for an individual player in the regular season) without the risk of a waiver claim. Teams retain the ability to protect up to four players from being signed to other 53-man rosters. The Chiefs have used this ability sparingly — generally when there have been multiple injuries in a position group.
In his media remarks on Wednesday, Kansas City general manager Brett Veach discussed the benefits of the new rules.
“Now you can elevate guys,” Veach explained, “and they’re exposed for one day. But for the most part, it allows you better insurance to protect those young players — while at the same time, having additional space allows you to utilize older players in a pinch if you need [to]. I think it’s just a good blend.
“I think it helps teams stay healthier. I think it allows players who are hurt to do the rehab the right way — and to not have to rush to get back on the field to protect some players that might get exposed to waivers. I think from an injury protection standpoint — and from a youth development standpoint — it’s been a blessing to have not just 16 players, but the ability to elevate these players throughout the season.”
Let’s meet the 14 players who will be practicing with the team ahead of their trip to the desert.
Zayne Anderson • DB • 6-2 • 206 pounds
Anderson signed with the Chiefs out of BYU following the 2021 NFL Draft. Last season, he appeared in four of Kansas City’s regular-season games and all three preseason games, seeing heavy usage on special teams. After a training camp shoulder injury sidelined him from this year’s preseason opener in Chicago, Anderson appeared in the remaining two games, totaling five tackles.
Mike Caliendo • OL • 6-4 • 301 pounds
Caliendo joined the Chiefs in the spring as an undrafted free agent from Western Michigan, where he was a college teammate of wide receiver Skyy Moore. Caliendo played in all three preseason games, tying for the lead among all offensive linemen with 39 snaps against the Green Bay Packers. During camp, he rotated at guard and center.
Jack Cochrane • LB • 6-3 • 236 pounds
Kansas City signed Cochrane out of South Dakota following the 2022 draft. He played in all three preseason games, totaling six tackles. Prior to the draft, he was lauded for his potential in coverage. Following the draft, Arrowhead Pride’s lead analyst Ron Kopp Jr. described Cochrane as “a lighter linebacker (with play-calling experience) who can play in passing-down packages, but who will mainly be a special-teams player.”
Jerrion Ealy • WR/RB • 5-8 • 187 pounds
Ealy joined the Chiefs in undrafted free agency after an accomplished career at Mississippi, where he totaled 2,780 yards from scrimmage and scored 24 touchdowns over three seasons. He also averaged 25.4 yards per kickoff return — and scored two touchdowns. Ealy played very sparingly in the preseason, but the team appears to have seen enough to warrant an opportunity for further development. From the moment he joined the team, he has been listed as a wide receiver/running back hybrid.
Daurice Fountain • WR • 6-2 • 206 pounds
Fountain entered the league as a 2018 fifth-round selection for the Indianapolis Colts. After making Kansas City’s initial 53-man roster a year ago, he now claims a veteran practice-squad position. In 2021, Fountain appeared in two regular-season games and all three playoff games, playing almost exclusively on special teams. After a strong training camp and preseason, he appeared to be a strong candidate for this season’s active roster — but was released at the final 53-man roster cutdown.
Jordan Franks • TE • 6-4 • 232 pounds
Franks joined the Cincinnati Bengals as an undrafted free agent out of Central Florida in 2018. He has appeared in seven career regular-season games, catching two passes for 37 yards. After joining the Chiefs this offseason, he caught two passes for 12 yards in the preseason.
Nazeeh Johnson • DB • 5-10 • 199 pounds
Kansas City selected Johnson from Marshall with the 259th pick in April’s draft. While he was not invited to the NFL Combine, he put himself on the draft radar with elite athletic testing at Marshall’s pro day. Throughout the offseason, Johnson has been all over the defensive backfield, seeing time not just as a safety but also as a slot and boundary cornerback. With his return, he has an opportunity for continued development — and the team’s entire 10-man draft class remains in the building.
Azur Kamara • DE • 6-4 • 236 pounds
Kamara — an Ivory Coast native who played at Kansas — joined the Chiefs at the start of training camp. Despite his late start in the system, he played in all three preseason games, recording half a sack against the Washington Commanders. Kamara originally signed with the Dallas Cowboys after the 2020 draft. After spending his rookie season on injured reserve, Kamara played in nine games for the 2021 Cowboys — largely on special teams.
Elijah Lee • LB • 6-3 • 229 pounds
As the pride of both Kansas State and Blue Springs High School, Lee became the feel-good story of training camp, signing with his hometown team and carving out a role. During camp, the Minnesota Vikings’ seventh-round pick from 2017 was frequently seen taking starter reps. Chiefs assistant head coach and special teams coordinator Dave Toub also identified Lee as a key contributor to his units. Lee is widely expected to return to the active roster after tight end Blake Bell (hip surgery) is moved to the Reserve/Injured list.
Chris Oladokun • QB • 6-2 • 195 pounds
The Pittsburgh Steelers selected Oladokun out of South Dakota State with the 241st selection of April’s draft. Right now, he is the only practice-squad player who didn’t attend Kansas City’s training camp. The Chiefs did, however, host Oladokun on a top 30 visit before the draft. With Pittsburgh evaluating first-round quarterback Kenny Pickett, Oladokun did not take any reps in the preseason. In his only season with the Jackrabbits, Oladokun threw for 25 touchdowns, rushed for two more — and (intriguingly) caught a pair of touchdown passes.
Cornell Powell • WR • 6-0 • 204 pounds
The Chiefs selected the Clemson wideout in the fifth round of the 2021 draft, but he was waived at the end of the preseason. He then spent all of last season on the Kansas City practice squad, never appearing in a game. During his second preseason with the team, he caught eight passes for 51 yards.
Austin Reiter • OL • 6-3 • 301 pounds
Reiter — Kansas City’s starting center in both 2019 and 2020 — returns to the Chiefs after splitting 2021 between the Miami Dolphins and New Orleans Saints. Provided that he does not find an opportunity on another team’s active roster, the veteran snapper will provide emergency depth behind second-year center Creed Humphrey.
Danny Shelton • DL • 6-2 • 339 pounds
The Cleveland Browns selected Shelton with the 12th overall pick of the 2015 draft. He has totaled 278 tackles and six sacks over 100 career games. Shelton signed with the Chiefs on August 15 and played in the final preseason game.
Taylor Stallworth • DL • 6-2 • 300 pounds
Stallworth entered the league with the Saints as an undrafted free agent from South Carolina in 2018. He also played for the Colts before signing with Kansas City in April. After missing part of camp with a knee contusion, Stallworth played in all three preseason games. In 50 career games, he has 44 career tackles and 4.5 sacks.
While we should be happy these players have an opportunity to continue their NFL dreams, we should remember that the main purpose of a practice squad is to assemble scout teams that resemble upcoming opponents — not to serve as a farm system. Players will be added and dropped throughout the season as practice needs change or injuries occur. Of the 16 players named to the initial 2021 practice squad, only half participated in Chiefs training camp this season — although two were named to this season’s first active roster.