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5 winners and 3 losers from Week 1 of training camp

Let’s see which Kansas City players are getting the cheers — and which ones are getting the jeers.

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs Training Camp Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Chiefs have entered their second week of training camp — and now have some padded practices in the books. So far, the focus has been on getting plenty of reps for returning players while rookies work to earn their spots. Perhaps this means we’ll see less of an early impact from this season’s draft class than we saw a year ago — or perhaps it’s just a return to a more normal structure for a championship roster, where there aren’t many spots available to rookies.

Either way, there have been some early standouts in both categories. This list is heavy on wide receivers for a reason: the first week of camp is generally heavy on passing; it’s easier for receivers to stand out.

Here are a few Chiefs who have caught our attention so far.


NFL: Kansas City Chiefs Training Camp Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Wide receiver Skyy Moore: The team is very young at wide receiver, so they’ll be looking for players to develop and lead the way in 2023. Moore might be doing both. So far in camp, he’s consistently been getting a high volume of targets and making plays with the first-team offense on a daily basis. Given his ability to move the chains in the short-to-intermediate parts of the field, he might be the guy with the most to gain from JuJu Smith-Schuster’s departure.

Wide receiver Rashee Rice: This former SMU star is another young receiver for whom we can get excited. When drafted, we thought Rice might have a skill set that is unique to this roster. He’s shown it in camp, demonstrating a knack for catching contested downfield passes. Sure... he puked on Day 1. But he’s been catching everything ever since.

Wide receiver Richie James: Folks may have been sleeping on the veteran free-agent addition — but not any longer. In the early going, James has been outstanding. He’s been doing some of the things that the team was hoping the now-injured Kadarius Toney could have done. If he was signed as an insurance policy on Toney, the Chiefs are already collecting on a claim. When the season begins, he’ll almost certainly be the team’s primary punt returner — but before camp is over, he might also be Patrick Mahomes’ favorite target.

Running back Deneric Prince: Who doesn’t love an undrafted running back success story? It appears that in Prince, Kansas City has found another gem. He has consistently been excellent in camp — especially in the passing game. He feels like a lock for the roster — whether the team keeps three or four running backs.

Cornerback Trent McDuffie: The Chiefs might have a blue-chip corner. In his second NFL training camp, McDuffie seems to be all over the field — and in St. Joseph, diving pass breakups are becoming the norm for him. He had a really good rookie season, so if he’s taken another step forward — and it looks like he has — there’s a chance he’ll be mentioned among the league’s better corners.

Cornerback Nazeeh Johnson (Honorable mention): Proclaimed by his special-teams coach as the league’s best gunner, Johnson was probably already going to be on the 53. But then at camp, he earned first-team reps at cornerback — and made play after play. Unfortunately, his season has ended abruptly with a knee injury — but that shouldn’t take away from his success in St. Joseph. We’ll see him again in 2024.


NFL: Super Bowl LVII-Kansas City Chiefs vs Philadelphia Eagles Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Wide receiver Kadarius Toney: When the reports started flying about Toney being the team’s No. 1 wide receiver, everyone had the same thought: “IF he can stay healthy.” Unfortunately, our worst fears were realized before camp practices really even began; Toney had surgery to repair a knee injury he suffered while fielding a punt during warmups on Day 1. Hopefully, he’s going to be ready for the regular season — but right now, he’s missing valuable opportunities to build chemistry and grow into the role the team wants him to fill.

Tight end Jody Fortson: With the emergence of Noah Gray and the return of Blake Bell, the tight end position is more competitive than ever; even Matt Bushman is earning some positive notes. Unfortunately, Fortson has had a few drops — and is now battling another injury. Given that the team really hasn’t found a way to fully utilize him in its offense, we have to wonder if his roster spot is really secure.

Both sides in the Chris Jones contract negotiation: We knew it would take a while to get a deal done, but we thought both sides would make it a priority to complete it before camp. But here we are. After a week of practices, Chris Jones is still racking up a $50,000 fine every day ($550,000 so far) instead of quarterback pressures. In a situation like this, it’s hard to point a finger at one side or the other. But when a player is holding out, nobody wins. The team needs him more than any other player on defense — and he deserves a solid payday. The longer this drags on, the more both sides lose.

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