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Andy Heck identifies areas of improvement for the Chiefs’ offensive line

Kansas City’s offensive line coach thinks his very good line can improve for the upcoming season.

NFL: JUL 23 Kansas City Chiefs Training Camp Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Entering his 11th season with the Kansas City Chiefs, offensive line coach Andy Heck has built one of the league’s top units. With high-level, veteran talent at every position, the Chiefs are looking good up front.

But speaking to reporters after Wednesday’s training camp practice at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, Heck identified several ways the unit can improve — starting with Pro Bowl center Creed Humphrey.

“Creed was a ready-made center when he came in,” noted Heck, “and that was one of the reasons he was able to step in and do such a great job from the start. He operated like a veteran.

“So now, a few years later, the things that you see [where he has] improved are just familiarity with the offense; the calls [are] much more second nature. He sees defenses — [at] which he’s always been excellent — but he’s seeing him that much better.

“Then [the] areas to improve — we’ve all got them — with Creed [include] an All-Pro center consistency. I’d say that’s one of his strengths: he’s consistent. But he can be that much more consistent — whether it’s his base in the pocket, his helps [or] getting guys off of his body so he can switch off stunts. These are all things he works on.”

Adding to the stability in the middle of the line are guards Joe Thuney and Trey Smith. While Heck believes Thuney is one of the league’s best pass protectors, he says the eight-year veteran can still improve his run blocking — where Heck believes Thuney can improve on the little details.

“There’s a thousand of them that you can’t get in one install,” explained Heck. “It just takes rep after rep to pick up all these little details and nuances. [Thuney is a] super sharp guy. He’s not going to make many mistakes — and if he does, he’s not going to make them twice.”

Heck said that as one of the league’s smaller guards, Thuney is working on techniques to be better in the running game — including proper pad level and playing with more explosion.

But this season, the biggest changes to the Kansas City offensive line are at tackle — where on the left side, the team has replaced starter Orlando Brown Jr. with former Tampa Bay Buccaneers left tackle Donovan Smith. On the right side, the team swapped out Andrew Wylie for former Jacksonville Jaguars tackle Jawaan Taylor.

Heck thinks the two veteran linemen have integrated themselves nicely into the team's offensive line room.

“Really pleased to have both Donovan and Jawaan here,” proclaimed Heck. “They are talented tackles; they are experienced — and in terms of how they have fit in and adapted, I think [they have done it] very well.

“I mean, they integrated right into our room; we’ve got a great room. The guys communicate well. They like each other — [and] they like being around each other.

“In their own way, they inserted themselves as leaders. Donovan is a vocal guy — a physical guy. We can draw a lot from his experience there. He’s been a very rugged player over his career.

“Jawaan is very talented. [He] does a nice job with pass protection. So I’m super pleased with those guys.”

Having said all that, one of the main keys to success in every offensive line is chemistry. While the interior of the line has spent the past two seasons together, it will take some time to acclimate the newly-acquired Smith and Taylor into the line.

“I would say all of us — not just Jawaan — are still working on coordinating all of our efforts,” said Heck. “Our angles have to be so precise and in tune with what the back’s doing, what the guy next to you is doing [and] the front side versus the back side; there’s a lot to it.

“[It’s] similar to when we brought a new group together several years ago: that’s a work in progress.”

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