Last Friday, the Kansas City Chiefs put the pads on for the first time during this training camp.
It is an essential day in every season. The coaching staff finally feels comfortable running “thud” periods or sessions with contact at full speed — but no to-the-ground takedowns.
Wide receiver Justyn Ross hadn’t taken part in such a period since he was a college football player at Clemson back in 2021.
“It was very exciting,” said Ross when he spoke to the media on Tuesday. “I was real anxious [and] real excited just to get out there and get back to it, really.”
WR Justyn Ross got popped by S Justin Reid after a catch from Mahomes during 7s. Looked a little shaken up, definitely a welcome-back-to-contact moment. 2021 was a while ago.— Pete Sweeney (@pgsween) July 28, 2023
“Beautiful,” said Ross. “I couldn’t wait.”
A couple of weeks into camp, Ross stated he feels good after a year of watching the Chiefs from the sideline and in meeting rooms. Corrective foot surgery cost him all of last year’s training camp, preseason and regular season — but he learned the offense from head coach Andy Reid and quarterback Patrick Mahomes while taking mental reps.
Those mental reps in 2022 are paying early dividends in 2023’s actual reps.
“He’s doing good — it was a redshirt year that he probably didn’t want to have, right?” said Reid. “He’s done a nice job. He had a good offseason — and then he’s worked his tail off here. He just needs to keep doing that. It’s how you answer the bell every day and push through it. He’s got the right mindset to do that.”
Ross echoed his head coach’s beliefs, continually saying after practice that he is simply trying to stack good days. He is aided by the league’s reigning MVP, who he knows will find him if he can give him the proper window.
“Great quarterback,” said Ross of Mahomes. “I feel like if you’re open, he’s going to get it to you, for sure. So that’s what I’ve been trying to do: just create separation and keep playing.”
Mahomes has enjoyed working with the 23-year-old, noting that it really isn’t all that unfamiliar to him since he has been around the building in the classroom.
“He’s had a good [training camp] — learning the offense fast,” Mahomes said. “You can tell he’s been in the offense for a year now. Obviously, making big plays — and he’s getting more involved in those first-team reps. [He’s] a guy that I have a lot of hope for — that he could be a really good player in this offense.”
Reid apparently feels the same way; Ross has been gifted ample opportunities to work with Mahomes early on in camp. The Chiefs have been tasked with making the offense work with younger receivers after JuJu Smith-Schuster departed the club for New England, and the Baltimore Ravens priced Kansas City out of Odell Beckham Jr. — and eventually, DeAndre Hopkins.
Kansas City should still have a great deal of confidence, considering it managed to lift the Lombardi Trophy after saying goodbye to All-Pro Tyreek Hill.
“It was great to see everything and be able to get in the system — but obviously, it was a pain for me because I wanted to be out there playing,” said Ross of the Super Bowl title. “I already had a year off before then, so it was a little pain, but it was a great experience for sure.”
Ross knows about all the hype he has received, but he said he has blocked it out by deleting his Twitter account. Rather than reading into it, he has his sights set on the Chiefs’ preseason game on Sunday, August 13, at Noon. It will be the first time Ross will have suited up in exactly 21 months.
“I feel like it will be important just knowing I can go out there, take real good hits and everything like that,” said Ross. “I feel very confident in myself. [I] feel like it will be real good for me.”
You can find my complete observations from Wednesday’s practice here.
Post-practice chat and press conferences
- Did not practice (due to injury): DE Mike Danna (calf injured on 7/28), 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)
- Limited: RB Isiah Pacheco (hand, labrum), P Tommy Townsend (right leg)
- Returned to practice (limited): DT Tershawn Wharton (ACL)
Tweet of the day
I have nothing to add.
Quote of the day
Chiefs defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi, when asked if there is a difference in training camp after a Super Bowl victory: “I believe this is still coach Reid’s training camp.”
The Chiefs return to the field on Thursday morning for their 10th full-team training camp practice. The workout begins at 9:15 a.m. Arrowhead Time. Offensive coordinator Matt Nagy will address the media following the practice as defensive backs sign autographs. Here’s the complete 2023 training camp schedule.