Courtesy of Chiefs.com
The Kansas City Chiefs took another step closer to the 2021 campaign on Friday as quarterbacks, rookies and a handful of players returning from injuries reported to training camp in preparation for the upcoming season.
It’s a culmination of everything they’ve worked on up to this point – from rookie minicamp back in May all the way through mandatory minicamp last month – and that progress is set to continue over the weekend before things really kick into high gear next week.
“We’ll have 30 players who will be here [this weekend],” said Head Coach Andy Reid, who mentioned that cornerback DeAndre Baker, defensive end Taco Charlton and safety Juan Thornhill will be among the players returning from injuries who will be present at camp during this introductory period. “We’re excited [to have them all here] and we’re excited to give them some work.”
This portion of camp will span three practices before the rest of the roster reports on Monday, but in the meantime, it’s a tremendous opportunity for the quarterbacks, rookies and select veterans in attendance to ease into a rhythm conducive to growth.
“The nice thing about this is that everybody can kind of get in a flow before the veterans come in,” Reid said. “Whether it’s the coaches doing the installs or the players, that’s a positive thing that’s taking place. It’s condensed – we’re doing 7-on-7 drills as opposed to team drills – but we’ll work through all of the other things.”
“They’re getting accustomed to how we practice at training camp,” added quarterback Patrick Mahomes. “They’re also getting reps, and those things are critical. We go through the first few installs with the rookies, and then they get to go right back through it when the vets get here. It’s kind of a head start for them as they try and prepare themselves for what we’re going to do.”
It’s also worth mentioning that the next few days of practices will mark a chance for the Chiefs’ rookies to show what they retained from the offseason training program, which included rookie minicamp, Organized Team Activities (OTAs) and mandatory minicamp. It’s a luxury that Kansas City didn’t have last year as the team navigated an entirely virtual offseason, putting the preparations that took place over the last few months in perspective.
“Talking to some of the guys from last year, they didn’t have the opportunity to go through OTAs. I think that was very beneficial for me, just learning the playbook, receiving some coaching points and being out there with the vets,” said rookie linebacker Nick Bolton. “That was pivotal for my growth – I loved every second of it – and I feel like I can build on that.”
It goes beyond just the playbook, too, as the Chiefs’ recent success has established a certain culture that simply doesn’t exist everywhere else. That kind of mentality breeds success, and it’s something Mahomes noticed all of Kansas City’s new players – including the rookies and veteran acquisitions – embracing throughout the offseason program.
“Those guys are ready to go. Many of them haven’t played in the Super Bowl before and they want to make it there,” Mahomes said. “With the culture we’ve built, they see how we work every single day, and they have the energy that they’re going to come do it as well.”
That culture will be front and center up at camp, particularly as the Chiefs head an hour to the north at Missouri Western State University.
“The biggest thing is the relationships that you build,” Mahomes explained. “It’s really cool to be somewhere where you’re fully embracing football. Every single moment, you’re either meeting, working out, practicing, or eating lunch with your teammates. It’s all football. There’s definitely an advantage to that and it gets you ready for the grind of the season.”
That grind – at least for a portion of the roster – got started on Friday, and after the organization fell just shy of its ultimate goal last season, this time of year couldn’t have come soon enough.
“I’m entering the best organization in the league right now, so expectations are high,” said rookie center Creed Humphrey. “I’m just ready to get to work and to meet those standards.”