The Kansas City Chiefs will conduct their first full practice of training camp on Sunday morning at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph. In the meantime, rookies like the team’s fourth-round defensive back Chamarri Conner have been taking advantage of the extra reps in this week’s preliminary practices.
“It’s great to be out here before the veterans get back into the swing of things,” Conner told reporters after Thursday’s rookies-and-quarterbacks session. “When they get back, you already know it’s go-time — but it’s definitely going to be up when the veterans get here. So it’s great to get here early, get on the field and get in the swing of things.”
Conner knows the extra practice time goes a long way toward helping rookies like himself make the challenging transition from college to the NFL. He appreciates that this week’s rookie sessions have reinforced what the team covered during the offseason program.
“Going through OTAs, being able to already see most of what I’m learning, get it, then come back and learn it again has been really good for me,” he noted.
The Chiefs have high hopes for the former Virginia Tech safety. They believe his ability to line up all over the field — something he often did for the Hokies — will add more versatility to the team’s secondary. So — much to Conner’s delight — the coaching staff has been using this week’s extra time to experiment by lining him up in multiple positions.
“Yes, I’m definitely comfortable with it,” he said of the week’s research and development. “I’ve been doing it for most of my career, so it’s something that I like doing — and feel comfortable doing.”
Having said that, learning the nuances of an NFL defensive scheme is no easy task — especially the complex system run by defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. Fortunately for Conner, fifth-year veteran safety Mike Edwards — himself a new addition to Kansas City’s secondary — has served as a mentor as they have worked to become acclimatized in the scheme.
“I’m learning a lot,” Conner said of his work with Edwards. “I could always ask Mike questions or get some feedback from him — but it’s been great just to see a guy that’s been in the league for a while and just be able to learn from him.”
And Edwards isn’t the only player whose presence has impacted the young safety. Every one of the team’s returning players has something that Conner wants for himself.
“I want to be a Super Bowl winner,” he told reporters. “So it motivates me a lot for this upcoming season — and the rest of my career.”
When full-blown practices begin on Sunday, Conner will get finally his chance to see what championship-level NFL intensity really looks like. It’s safe to say he’s ready for the challenge.
“It’s football,” he said. “That’s what we do. We put the pads on [and] we go hit guys. So I’m definitely looking forward to it.”