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Training camp notebook: Patrick Mahomes’ playing time vs. Saints

The Chiefs take on the Saints in their first preseason game of 2023.

Kansas City Chiefs v New Orleans Saints Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid took the podium Friday morning following the team’s 10-10-10 training camp workout at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph. The practice leads the Chiefs into their first preseason game: an away matchup on Sunday against the New Orleans Saints.

Reid first provided the injury list, noting that tight end Jody Forston (shoulder), running back Isiah Pacheco (hand/labrum), cornerback L’Jarius Sneed (knee) wide receiver Kadarius Toney (knee) and defensive tackle Turk Wharton (knee) would not participate in the game. Of course, defensive tackle Chris Jones is not expected to play.

Reid then described his plan for playing time.

“I’ve got it scheduled by quarterback,” said Reid. “The ones will take the first quarter, twos the second quarter, threes the third quarter, fours the last quarter... special teams is a little different. Substitutions end up being a big thing in the preseason, juggling a lot of bodies.”

“Just getting in the flow, pregame. The whole thing, there. Having to go through the warmups. Your juices are going a little bit, more than what they do in practice. Just [a] gradual ramp-up.”

Reid joked that quarterback Patrick Mahomes wants to play longer than Reid lets him, which has always been no more than one series.

“It’s just getting that first hit,” said Mahomes. “You want to get hit where it’s not too hard, but you can feel it.

“You go through a long offseason of working through the pocket, knowing the guys are rushing but they can’t touch you. It’s just different when you get into the game, and you’re able to get tackled... I like to have at least one to two drives under my belt to say that I’m ready to go.

“We’re doing the right things. coach Reid, he allows me to do that, allows me to get in there. [With] having the new tackles, it will be good to kind of get a feel for them as well. They have done great in training camp so far — and I’m excited for them to get that opportunity: to go out in a real game.”

Our Jared Sapp researched the head coach’s tendencies over the last four years:

In each of the last three preseason openers, Reid put the starting skill position players on the field for only a single possession. Last year, against the Chicago Bears, Mahomes capped an 11-play, 72-yard opening drive with a 5-yard touchdown throw to tight end Blake Bell. Mahomes had a more forgettable start to 2021’s exhibition season against the San Francisco 49ers. His night ended after a four-play, 16-yard drive resulted in his future teammate Richie James fair catching a punt from Tommy Townsend.

Two years earlier, in 2019 (there were no preseason games in 2020), Mahomes took the offense 83 yards on Kansas City’s first possession. His appearance concluded with running back Carlos Hyde punching in a 1-yard score. Such was the highlight of Hyde’s time in red and gold as he was traded at the roster cutdown and would not be a part of a Super Bowl-winning squad.

The short day at the office for backs and receivers to open the preseason has not extended to the starting offensive line. Against Chicago and San Francisco the past two seasons, the five starters stayed in the lineup as the offensive backups rotated in. With the Chiefs turning over both tackle positions this offseason, this trend will likely continue against New Orleans.

While backup Blaine Gabbert will likely take the reins for Kansas City’s second drive, you should still be watching. Last year against Chicago, running back Isiah Pacheco and wide receiver Skyy Moore took the field with Chad Henne throwing to state their cases. It will not be surprising to see Gabbert targeting wide receivers Rashee Rice and Justyn Ross after their strong camp showings.

Recent history suggests Steve Spagnuolo prefers to leave his starters on the field for a pair of series in the preseason opener. Cornerback L’Jarius Sneed, linebacker Nick Bolton, safety Juan Thornhill and defensive end Frank Clark all recorded stops on Chicago’s second drive last August.

Reid confirmed that defensive lineman Charles Omenihu, who will miss the first six games of the season due to a suspension, will play with the first-team defense on Sunday.

With Fortson out, expect Blake Bell to step up behind Travis Kelce and Noah Gray. Clyde Edwards-Helaire is likely to get the first running back touch as Pacheco continues to rehab. Jaylen Watson should start at cornerback opposite Trent McDuffie in the base, and McDuffie will slide inside when Joshua Williams comes on for the nickel defense.

Due to Toney’s injury, the Chiefs’ top three receivers will be Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Skyy Moore and Justin Watson. With Jones holding out (and Wharton unavailable), Daniel Wise is presumably going to start at defensive tackle next to Derrick Nnadi.


You can find my complete observations from Friday’s practice here.

Post-practice chat and press conferences

If you can’t see the above (Apple iTunes) embed, click here. The press conference is also available on Spotify.

Injury report

  • Did not practice (due to injury): TE Jody Fortson (right shoulder injured on 7/28), CB L’Jarius Sneed (knee swelling on 7/31), WR Kadarius Toney (knee injured on 7/23), DT Turk Wharton
  • Limited: RB Isiah Pacheco (hand, labrum)
  • Left early: WR Ihmir Smith-Marsette

Tweet of the day

Our John Dixon compiled all of Friday’s tweets here. Here is the tweet of the day:

Quote of the day

Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes on what he had for breakfast: “You know intermittent fasting? I’ve been trying to do a little bit. Alex Smith taught me about that, so I do a little bit of it.”

What’s next?

The Chiefs have an off day on Saturday as they travel to New Orleans for their first preseason game at Noon on Sunday. Kansas City will return to St. Joseph Tuesday for three more days of practice, The workout Tuesday begins at 9:15 a.m. Arrowhead Time.

Head coach Andy Reid will address the media following the practice as the defensive backs sign autographs. Here’s the complete 2023 training camp schedule.

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