Over just a matter of weeks, the main concern for Kansas City Chiefs’ fans appears to have shifted from having enough talented wide receivers to how many the team can afford to keep on the NFL’s August 30 cutdown day.
One of the players who have altered the narrative is veteran Richie James. He’s gone from being an unheralded veteran signing in April to looking like he’s secured a role on his new team.
Although the Chiefs lost to the New Orleans Saints 26-24 in Sunday’s preseason opener, James used the game to make an excellent case that he should continue to wear the red and gold. He finished the day with a pair of catches for 44 yards and a touchdown.
Speaking after Tuesday’s practice from the Chiefs’ training camp at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, James was happy to have gotten back on the field.
“It felt good,” he recalled of Sunday’s game action. “I kind of was just getting warmed up. I wanted to play a little bit more — but you know how that goes.”
Now on his third team after stints with the San Francisco 49ers and New York Giants, James finds himself paired with quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who is widely considered to be the league’s best. The receiver appreciates just how accomplished his new quarterback really is.
“They’re all great leaders,” James said of the quarterbacks with whom he has previously played. “Obviously, Pat has done a lot more than most of them. He’s just a great leader [and] a great quarterback. He knows how to run the show — and obviously, you know he does the job really well.”
But in the Superdome on Sunday, James didn’t get a target from Mahomes — whose afternoon ended after a single series. Although James’ targets in his first Kansas City game were all from backup Blaine, James has been comfortable with the work he has put in with the starter during practices.
“[I’ve been] getting a lot of opportunity to work with him,” noted James. “He gives you a lot of advice about what he’s thinking and where you should be at when he releases the ball. He’s running the show right now.”
Echoing the popular sentiment, James agrees that a quarterback like Mahomes makes it seem like there is a coach on the field.
“You can tell he’s been in the system for a while,” James observed, “and he knows where the going to go pre-snap. He does a really good job of telling you, ‘Hey, expect the ball right here at this moment. Eyes better be up [with] hands ready.’”
Although James caught a 1-yard touchdown pass on Sunday, his best moment came earlier on the drive — when he took a deep pass from Gabbert for a 43-yard gain. The play showed good downfield ball-tracking ability, which is a skill the Chiefs have sometimes struggled to find since last season’s shocking trade that sent star receiver Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins.
James expects to continue finding the ball on the run.
“I tracked it well,” he declared. “That’s something I can do. I made the catch. First down!”