The Kansas City Chiefs are approaching the three-week mark of training camp. Saturday’s practice at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph got them one step closer to the start of the season.
In front of a capacity crowd, the team participated in an up-tempo, low-contact day — commonly referred to as a 10-10-10 practice. While these aren’t as physically taxing, they often require a high degree of mental focus — because they have have a very fast pace and up-tempo play calling.
Here are three observations from Saturday’s session.
1. Wide receiver Richie James’ versatility
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes threw a number of passes to James through the course of the day. Since camp’s opening days, the former New York Giants wideout has been a staple of the first and second-team periods — but on Saturday, he primarily played with the first team.
Mahomes to Richie James in stride— Caleb James (@CJScoobs) August 5, 2023
While he did catch some passes downfield, he was also used in a series of jet sweeps and reverses. This versatility — being able to run downfield routes, while also working as the primary contributor on these “gadget” plays — is where he brings value to the team.
Later in the session, he even took a snap as the wildcat quarterback. With Mahomes lined up wide from the formation, James took the snap, showed a handoff — and then took the the ball up the middle.
Richie James taking a snap as the wildcat QB.— Caleb James (@CJScoobs) August 5, 2023
Thanks to his abilities as a kick returner, James appears to be a shoo-in for a roster spot. It appears that now, he’s taking on the role that Mecole Hardman filled in the Kansas City offense. He’s even wearing Hardman’s No. 17 jersey.
2. Offensive line depth
While the team’s starting offensive line seems all but set with Donovan Smith, Joe Thuney, Creed Humphrey, Trey Smith and Jawaan Taylor, a couple of other lineups were mixed in on Saturday.
We saw reserve interior lineman Nick Allegretti fill in at right guard, left guard and center. While no starters are at risk of losing their job, it is great for Allegretti to build chemistry with the starters.
Allegretti continues to rotate in with the ones, now spelling Joe Thuney. Great depth piece for the team.— Caleb James (@CJScoobs) August 5, 2023
A starter for 12 games during his career — along with one Super Bowl — Allegretti is one of the league’s best backup interior offensive linemen. His ability to play guard and center has made him a valuable part of the team’s roster.
We also saw rookie Wanya Morris play a few snaps at both right and left tackle. This suggests that he is being considered the team’s primary swing tackle ahead of both Lucas Niang and Prince Tega Wanagho.
Chiefs OL Wanya Morris has been working with the first team as its swing tackle. He says he remains comfortable doing it.— Pete Sweeney (@pgsween) August 5, 2023
He says OL coach Andy Heck wants him to keep pushing to learn — and he likes his progress so far.
Enjoys battle Felix Anudike-Uzomah in one-on-one drills. pic.twitter.com/zoQvcqSgYb
With the grueling physicality that is required of offensive linemen through the course of a season, it is hard to make it through the year without some players missing time. Quality depth on the offensive front will be a key component in another deep playoff run.
3. Fun and learning
Training camp can be a monotonous time of year, so giving players a chance to have a little fun is a great way to lighten the mood and keep everyone relaxed. Mahomes delivered a crowd-pleaser on Saturday.
This behind-the-back pass wowed the crowd — and while it might seem far-fetched to think so, it could have have been a preview of we might see this season.
A handful of players also stuck around for some individual work after practice. Members of the running back room were among them.
McKinnon, CEH, and Prince working some extra pass blocking reps in the post practice.— Caleb James (@CJScoobs) August 5, 2023
With Jerick McKinnon leading the way, the three running backs worked on some basic concepts in pass protection. The veteran shared his wisdom with both Deneric Prince and Clyde Edwards-Helaire — even though all three will be competing for snaps this season.
In these moments during camp’s dog days, it is important for players to process what they are learning by slowing down the game in any way they can. Once they have done that, it will be that much easier to return to playing fast.
That’s when the real fun will begin.