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Chiefs among few teams not conducting joint practices in 2023

Only a handful of NFL teams don’t have at least one preseason practice with another club.

Kansas City Chiefs Training Camp Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Nowadays, most NFL teams feel more comfortable staying close to home for their first full practices of the season.

A quarter of a century ago, only a handful of teams stayed in town for training camp. Now, however, just a handful of teams — the Kansas City Chiefs, Pittsburgh Steelers, Buffalo Bills, Dallas Cowboys and Carolina Panthers — still go on the road.

Each July, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid, president Mark Donovan and CEO Clark Hunt are all happy to explain to reporters why the team doesn’t mind bucking current trends by spending a few weeks on the campus of Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph.

But now, the Chiefs are cutting against the grain of another trend.

During this NFL preseason, all but five teams — the Chiefs, Steelers, Bills, Cowboys and Seattle Seahawks — are conducting one or two joint practices with another team in the days before facing that team in a preseason game. It all, 27 teams are choosing to do it — 11 of them for two of their three preseason games.

You can see why teams like the idea. The team is already packing up its gear to travel to another city to play a meaningless exhibition game. Why not kill two birds with one stone by running a padded practice against that team — and grab a little bit of road camaraderie along the way? Players like staying in a nice hotel for a few nights much better than sleeping in a college dorm room for several weeks — right?

Back when most teams traveled to training camp, joint practices were fairly common — usually between teams that had their camps close to each other. (When the Chiefs held their training camps at the University of River Falls in Wisconsin, they often had joint practices with other teams in the “Cheese League” of teams that sought a break from the summer heat in Minnesota and Wisconsin).

More recently, though, joint practices have been returning. You could say that, in this instance, everything old is new again. Still, Reid has long been on record as opposing the idea.

“I’ve just never been that big on that,” Reid told reporters in St. Joseph in 2014. “A lot of teams do it. A lot of successful teams do it. I really don’t want to give anybody anything that I don’t have to give.”

Asked about a year later, Reid explained his reasons in more detail.

“Had a lot of opportunities to do it,” said Reid per Fox Sports, “but probably from a selfish standpoint, in today’s world, with technology, there’s not a lot of secrets. You have your coaching points, teaching points — you try to teach on the field — and I really don’t want anyone hearing that. That’s my own personal feeling. As much as I can keep in-house in today’s world, I want to do.”

As far as Reid is concerned, preseason games give him everything he could get from a joint practice.

“One of the benefits of having preseason games is you get to see these guys play, in front of a crowd, [when] the lights are on,” said Reid. “It’s another step besides practice.”

That’s why Reid has always favored having preseason games. Back in 2015, teams played four of them.

“If they gave us three, I’d be able to work that,” said Reid of the exhibition schedule, “but you don’t want to lose them all, I don’t think.”

Since then, the league has done just that: reduce the preseason schedule to only three games.

So until the league once again reduces the number of exhibition matchups — which will probably happen at some point in the future — Reid is likely to remain opposed to joint practices.

No matter what other teams do.

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