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As training camp begins, Justin Reid assesses the state of the Chiefs’ secondary

Kansas City’s veteran safety made an interesting comparison to his approach this offseason.

Super Bowl LVII - Kansas City Chiefs v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

In the last two years, the Kansas City Chiefs have left no stone unturned in making their secondary as competitive as possible.

Last season, the team drafted five defensive backs — cornerbacks Trent McDuffie, Joshua Williams, Jaylen Watson and Nazeeh Johnson — along with safety Bryan Cook. All five recorded tackles in the Chiefs’ Super Bowl LVII victory over the Philadelphia Eagles.

Speaking after Sunday’s first full practice of the team’s training camp at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, veteran safety Justin Reid was high on the progress he has seen from the second-year players.

“I’ll start with my partner in crime: Bryan Cook,” he declared. “The guy is a baller — a very cerebral player. Probably the loudest communicator on the defense out of the DBs. You love to have that: a vocal guy who’s confident in the back end. All the young guys — Trent McDuffie, Jaylen, J-Will, Nazeeh Johnson — all do an amazing job.”

NFL: MAY 26 Kansas City Chiefs OTA Offseason Workouts Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Two 2023 draft selections — safety Chamarri Conner and cornerback Nic Jones — are now joining the group. Five other defensive backs are in camp — all of them rookies signed as undrafted free agents. Reid is happy with what he is seeing from the new players as they begin absorbing defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s scheme.

“The young guys coming in... they have their ears wide open,” he noted. “They’re humble [and] they’re willing to learn. Spags’ system is not easy, but they’re willing to put in the work. And we have good veterans in the room [who are] willing to lead them along and teach them.”

Veteran safety Mike Edwards is among them. He joined the Chiefs this offseason after four years with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Reid is glad to have him on board.

“Again, just veteran experience and a guy who’s willing to learn,” he said of Edwards. “This playbook isn’t easy, but he’s grown with a number of similar concepts in his career already. The guy has great ball skills.”

While the Chiefs are currently in the midst of a major contract dispute with defensive tackle Chris Jones, Reid’s Sunday remarks may give us a preview of the club’s next financial standoff: one with cornerback L’Jarius Sneed.

NFL: JAN 01 Broncos at Chiefs Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

“You’re going to have to bring the Brinks trucks out for him too — eventually,” he said of the contract-year cornerback, “because he’s a hell of a player. You can put him on any No. 1 [receiver] throughout the league — and he holds his own.”

As he enters his second season in Kansas City, Reid is “extremely confident” about his own progress.

“I’ve been working heavy all offseason,” he boasted. “I was right here working every day. I didn’t realize I put on ten pounds of muscle — but I did. I’m about 217 with about five percent body fat. But I don’t feel like it. I still feel like I’m 205.

“[I’m] working like Keunu Reeves in John Wick — just ‘assassin mentality.’ I feel really good out here. I’m confident I know the playbook inside and out. I’m not out there making. I’m just out there playing.

“So I’m excited about what I’m going to be able to do to contribute to this defense truly being dominant this year — and finally getting some recognition and respect that I feel like I deserve.”

Reid also discussed how his unit bonds — even in the midst of constant turnover in personnel.

“We keep it fun,” he explained. “We went bowling earlier this offseason. We also went to do a couple of other group activities [and] hang out at the house. I have a pool table — [and] no one’s been able to knock me off.”

Going away for a month to head coach Andy Reid’s notoriously difficult training camp provides more opportunities for players to come together.

Kansas City Chiefs v Houston Texans Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

“One of the things that makes the Chiefs so fun to watch,” the safety observed, “is you see the personalities and how the whole team gets along with each other. Training camp is a big part of that. It’s kind of like college: we’re in dormitories together, and we hang out all day. You get to know your teammates. We have a lot of fun together. You build those relationships.”

Although Reid and his teammates face a grueling camp, the presence of fans in St. Joseph is welcome.

“We love having them here,” Reid confirmed. “Chiefs Kingdom is international. It’s amazing to hear them cheer. They bring energy to the guys on the field. Otherwise, Andy Reid’s camps are no joke. They make it a lot more bearable to come out here and see them cheer, smile, and hoorah. It makes it a lot more fun.”

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