Speaking after Wednesday’s training-camp practice at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, Nnadi identified defensive line coach Joe Cullen and his teammates as factors keeping him in Kansas City.
“It feels great,” he declared, “to be around the same group of guys I’ve been working with — from my D-line coach to all my dudes in the locker room. It feels wonderful.”
With the Chiefs defending a Super Bowl win — and widely seen as the league’s best team — Nnadi appreciates the opportunity before him.
“I feel like it was more just what we’re building here,” he said of returning to the Chiefs. “I just wanted to stay to be part of it.”
Nnadi is among a handful of Chiefs to be on both of the franchise’s recent Super Bowl-winning squads. The two pinnacles of success — with some disappointing moments between — have helped put his Kansas City career into perspective.
“It’s like how it was the first time,” Nnadi recalled of winning a second title. “I couldn’t believe it. In my head, it’s always too good to be true. It was a long time coming to get all the way to there again — and to win it.
“We’ve been through a lot of obstacles in my career — from losing in the AFC Championship, going there [and] winning it, going there and losing it, going there and losing [it] — and then to come back and win it? It’s a lot of trials and tribulations.
“It just goes to show the guys in our locker room — and how we much we fight to get to where we need to go.”
With star defensive tackle Chris Jones continuing his contract-extension holdout, Nnadi is the defense’s elder statesman. Echoing previous statements from coaches and teammates, the 2018 third-round draft selection considers Jones’ status out of his control — and it is not affecting his preparation for the season.
“Without him here,” Nnadi explained, “it’s just kind of where we are. It’s how it is. Whoever’s here, we’re here to work. So at the end of the day, we’ve got to focus on what we can focus on.”
Nnadi described former Kansas Jayhawk Daniel Wise — Jones’ frequent on-field substitute thus far in camp — as “working his butt off.” He also gave glowing reviews for two drafted rookies: first-round defensive end Felix Anudike-Uzomah and sixth-round nose tackle Keondre Coburn.
“They have a lot of potential,” Nnadi observed of his new teammates. “They show flashes — day-in, day-out — coming to practice. They’re like sponges — especially Keondre. I’ve been working with him [and] just trying to make sure he stays locked into all the things we’ve got to do. Felix? He’s improving every single day in terms of 1-on-1s, pass rush, things like that. I expect a lot of promising things [from] these two kids”
Wednesday also brought some good news for the defensive linemen. Defensive tackle Tershawn Wharton — sidelined since tearing his ACL in the Chiefs’ Week 5 victory over the Las Vegas Raiders last season — returned to practice.
“We love having Turk back,” he stated. “He’s the type of guy you want to play with. When he went down, we were all hurt about it. Him coming back — trying to go balls to the wall like he normally does — feels good for the D-line room.
“I feel like everyone on the defense was happy to see him back.”
Though he now enters his sixth season, Nnadi hopes to continue learning as he extends his career.
“With training camp,” he explained, “I always try to find something to make an even better football player — from technique to taking care of your body [to] watching more film. [I’m] just going back to the basics.”
Still, experience has not made head coach Andy Reid’s infamously difficult training camp any easier.
“I believe it’s still Coach Reid’s training camp,” Nnadi confirmed. “It’s tough no matter what... It’s going to be challenging. You’ll never know which day’s going to be that challenge, but when it comes, you’ve got to dig deep — and you’ve got to keep pushing.”
That knowledge shapes his advice to his teammates regarding the camp’s difficulty.
“I’ve been telling a lot of our guys since Day 1,” said Nnadi. “‘You may feel good now, but you have to build up a routine to take care of your body — because it’s going to be a long one.’”