Training Camp 11 Aug 2022

 31 replies

I visited the Chiefs’ Training Camp this past Thursday.  The last time I visited the Chiefs’ Training Camp, the Chiefs won the most righteous Superbowl in my own living memory.  I won’t try to dictate meaning to that coincidence, but instead I will trust you to draw the obvious conclusions.

If like me you’re planning to visit Camp, and like me you’ve skipped a couple years, I’ll warn you that it is a lot more popular than it used to be.  Thursday’s crowd seemed about the size of the Saturday crowds I remember from 2019.  The line to get in was scary long, even getting there a few minutes before gate opening.  Between that and the normal annoyance of being told where to go by nervously over-compensating college kids, and with all the really fantastic Camp coverage that’s available nowadays from Seth, KCSN and others, I thought about just leaving and reading about it later.  However, once I got inside and the crowd split up and wandered off in various directions, it was just as easy as it’s always been to find a great spot to watch practice.

The practice field set-up is still just like I (and hopefully a lot of you) remember it from past years.  The only major difference is that there is now a second viewing slope built up behind the far endzones, opposite the pavilions for VIPs and press, and it has a few small bleachers and lots of new open standing and sitting space.  This is an awesome improvement, and I will definitely go stand/sit there and get my endzone views the next time I visit.

Also, they still do all the scrimmage drills on just one of the two fields, and there is still a clue in the practice set-up as to which field will be the fun scrimmage field that day.  If you don’t already know how to spot that clue, and you want to know, then find me, and pay me some form of bribe and/or a compliment about my physical appearance.

So anyway, I visited the Chiefs’ Training Camp this past Thursday, and there were way too many things happening for me to put eyes on all of them, but here are a few things that I did see:

  • The very first player out on the field today was 26 (Deon Bush), followed by 20 (Reid) and 1d (Lonnie Johnson). Those three were on the field warming up in the DBs’ area a few minutes before anybody else came out.
  • I heard the QBs come out before I saw them from my seat in the bleachers, because the folks on the endzone hill broke out in applause when they spotted Mahomes&Co walking out.
  • The whistle signifying the official start of practice is accompanied by Travis Kelce’s primal scream.
  • The first guys out fielding warm-up punts are 17 (Hardman), 19 (Corey Coleman), 21d (McDuffie).
  • Kickoff return warm-ups add 10 (Pacheco), 40o (Gore), 80 (Devin Gray (nrt Noah, I think)), 31 (Tayon Fleet-Davis), 85 (Omar Bayless), 29 (Jerrion Ealy), and 27 (Fenton). Oh hey, Fenton’s back!
  • Warm-ups continue. If a concrete block wall tried to sprint, and it somehow actually managed to do so at a fairly scary speed, then it would look like George Karlaftis.
  • Position drills begin, and the first thing I hear is Dave Merritt shouting at one of his DBs “TUCK THAT SHIRT IN!” I think the last time I heard that was a little over twenty years ago and in my own voice as I was yelling it at some private in a gym on Ft. Hood.  Warms the heart.
  • The first drill for the DBs (who happen to be right in front of me, so you’re going to read several notes about them and hardly any about the offensive players who were way over on the opposite field, sorry about that to those hungry for offensive news) is contain techniques on a RB who has just caught a quick swing pass. Interesting that, do not remember seeing it in any of my previous camp visits.
  • Another new wrinkle I noticed is with the D-line. Their blocking sleds are under a net which seems to be designed to prevent them from standing up too high as they hit the sled and recover.
  • The O-line are in a corner of the field, blocking themselves. That has to get old quick.  I bet they are looking forward to Saturday’s game even more than I am.
  • LBs are practicing containing a RB on a quick toss play. Between that and the DB drill, seems like we fans aren’t the only ones who’ve noticed enemy RBs murdering our defense on short pass plays the past few seasons.
  • LB and DB groups link up briefly for a combined drop-back coverage drill. It is probably an extremely important drill, which is why I mention it, but it is incomprehensible and therefor boring to me.  I bet Kalo would know exactly what’s going on here, but he gets paid for sharing his knowledge nowadays.
  • In the drill mentioned above, I notice 44 (Elijah Lee) in the same group with 32 (Bolton) and 50 (Gay), but Lee is standing back watching the drill. Only two LBs on the field for this drill, SAM is probably odd man out.  On the twos’ side, it’s 43 (Cochrane) and 48 (Rose) on the field with several other LBs observing.
  • I haven’t spotted 54 (Chenal) yet, assume he was in the bunch watching the 2nd team MLB/WLB coverages. I’m keeping my eye out for how he gets used, because I think he could be a very key player for this defense this year.  I think he could make some rare but key splashy plays, as well as some splashy mistakes in coverage.  Ha, kinda like Dan Sorensen.  Except Chenal has the ability to get better instead of the certainty of getting worse as time goes by.
  • The first D-line up in a pass rush drill is 51 (Danna), 56 (Karlaftis), 8 (Dunlap), and 95 (You Know). No Frank Clark on the field today as far as I can see.
  • I found Chenal – he’s a 2nd team edge rusher alongside 59 (Kaindoh), 99 (Saunders), and 94 (Malik Herring).
  • After a couple of practice reps rushing the edge, Chenal switches to off-ball, rotates behind the Dline, and flows with a simulated sweep play. So, seems like pretty typical SAM type stuff for him so far, and working with both 2nd and 3rd teams.
  • SCRIMMAGE TIME! You probably know the first team O across the board, here’s the first team D:  95 (Jones), 91 (Nnadi), 51 (Danna), 56 (Karlaftis), 32 (Bolton), 50 (Gay), 20 (Reid), 22 (Thornhill), 21 (McDuffie), 38 (Sneed), 35 (Jaylen Watson).  I’ve read that Watson and Josh Williams  are regularly swapping between 1st and 2nd teams.  Sneed seems to be slot, McDuffie outside.
  • 35 puts cat-on-velcro coverage on 11(MVS) down the field. Mahomes tries it, but absolutely no room for the ball to get in there.
  • MVS shows solid hands on a quick slant. In related news, Andy Reid has apparently added quick slant plays to his playbook.
  • 2nd team D is 59 (Kaindoh), 8 (Dunlap), 99 (Saunders), 98 (Wharton), 53 (Jermaine Carter), 47 (Darius Harris), 44 (Elijah Lee), 26 (Deon Bush), 6 (Bryan Cook), 13 (Nazeeh Johnson), 23 (Josh Williams), 2 (Dicaprio Bootle). Yes, that is twelve men on the field – I believe LBs Harris and Lee switched out at some point early on, with Lee sneaking on late in the 1st team’s turn and staying for the first plays of 2nd team period.
  • 54 (Chenal) is playing SLB on 3rd team alongside 47 (Harris) and 48 (Rose).
  • I notice a lot of standing around and discussing stuff during coverage drills, especially among the LBs and LB coaches. Good to get that confusion worked out now.
  • There is an interesting LB drill where the group seems to split up between MLBs and OLBs. The mikes (and maybe the wills) practice slipping a block from a guard while keeping presence on a middle running lane, and the sams (and maybe some wills) practice covering a TE trying to get into a pass route off the LoS.  I wonder if it says something, with which LBs are emphasizing run D practice while others emphasize pass D.
  • I think it’s funny that they use a wide, flat, soft pad to simulate a OG.
  • And the first team running back is …(drum roll)… Clyde Edwards-Helaire!  All day, no change-ups.
  • Don’t believe any reports you read about running game practice, whether about defenders or runners or blockers, whether good or ill. You simply can’t trust the effort from either the tacklers or the blockers on any of these practice reps.  Almost all of them involve very light or no tackling or, more importantly, actual blocking.  Even if it looks like one or two guys occasionally get excited and make an effort, they probably weren’t really making a legit effort, and the guy they beat almost certainly wasn’t.  These drills seem to be only to practice lanes and positioning.
  • In scrimmages, our DBs are using the same chickenshit zone coverages that the rest of the NFL uses to frustrate the best player in the game. This is good, Mahomes needs to grow into it.  And he does still look frustrated by it.
  • BUT, in an early rep, Mahomes takes an open checkdown to CEH across the middle with only a little frustrated hesitation. This one looks like it would’ve damaged a defense in a real game.  Good sign.
  • Next play, Hardman is wide open on a short swing pass, gets to use his speed up the sideline. Busted coverage assignment, can’t tell exactly by who.  Maybe the previous play’s damage carried over a bit, hurt the defense’s psyche.  This could be how our offense beats defenses like 2nd Half Cincinnati this season.
  • Next play, everything is covered, 15 runs for a first down. Eat it, cover 2.
  • 24 (Skyy Moore) runs a fake jet sweep, CEH takes the handoff up the middle behind the jet. Chenal is the only one who bothers to chase CEH down the field.  Young legs
  • A timing pass to MVS gets messed up, looks like Reid knocked MVS off the route (legally).
  • Holy shit, DBowe is out there with the starting offense!!! Oh, no, that’s DFountain.  Damn, they really do look alike in pads.
  • 9 (Juju) beats 21 (McDuffie) on a move to the inside. Skilled big man beats skilled little man.
  • Second team O-line seems to be 70 (Wanogho), 73 (Allegretti), 61 (Reiter), 76 (Vitaliy Gurman), 71 (Roderick Johnson). Also seen rotating in with that group 74 (Geron Christian) and 66 (Mike Caliendo).  Niang is still out of course.
  • I spotted Kinnard (75) a few times today, but he doesn’t seem to be getting much action. I think the hopes of him possibly being this year’s Trey Smith have turned out to be unrealistic.  I’m ready to declare Wylie as the RTo2022.
  • There’s been talk about Chenal’s coverage skills. I see a rep where he keeps good enough coverage on a TE on a short out pattern to force the QB to give up on the pass and scramble.  He didn’t show any kind of special coverage techniques on that play, but he did show very good pre-snap awareness as the defense adjusted to the offensive alignment, and good enough knowledge of his assignments to realize he had to go cover that TE very quickly after the snap.  And his speed enabled him to get to where his brain wanted him to be in a timely manner.  I hope to see that good awareness and quick reaction continue when he plays against other teams’ offenses.
  • The very first FG drill is a simulated hurry-up, no-timeouts scenario. Buttkicker rushes out and nails it right through the middle and over the top of the backstop to a happy fan in the top row of the bleachers.
  • One series of a 7-on7 drill is all swing passes to TEs, maybe a half dozen plays in a row. Then 15 rips a bullet down the seam to 1 (McKinnon).  This all happened with the ball spotted just outside the offense’s own endzone.
  • Henne throws a slick pass to 84 (Watson), and Watson makes a nice catch. But I’m not sure that would’ve happened in a real game…Bootle was in great position to break it up, and I suspect he had instructions to gear back.
  • INT! 13 (Nazeeh Johnson) steps in front of a slightly late pass from Henne.  Henne patted the ball one too many times.  Still nice to see, because a knock on Johnson’s college career was a lack of INTs.
  • McKinnon seems to be on the field and involved in the action quite a lot during scrimmage drills, with all different offensive groups. If this reflects plans for the regular season, then he’s going to get a lot of play.
  • Just from what I’ve seen in this one practice, I think we only keep 3 RBs (plus Burton). Reason being I don’t see enough snaps being available to a 4th RB to justify a roster spot.  CEH and JMK are getting a double lion’s share of the RB snaps, with Pacheco and RoJo and Gore appearing relatively rarely.  Even if all three of those backups are  good players, I only see enough snaps for one RB behind CEH and JMK.  Barring injury of course.
  • If they decide to move on from one of the backup RBs before the season starts, then I might look for a pick-up in snaps for either RoJo or Gore during/after the Bears game as the team shops that player to the league, similar to what happened with Carlos Hyde (I’m favoring Pacheco for that 3rd RB spot right now due to his KR designation, plus he’s a 7th round rookie and so it wouldn’t make sense to shop him around). Or, they could try to hide one of those guys to get them on the practice squad.
  • After a failed deep pass attempt, I feel comfortable saying that MVS does not have nearly the tracking ability on deep passes that Tyreek Hill does. No surprise there, Hill is one of the very best in the game, and I’m going to have to keep reminding myself that he probably spoiled my expectations of what a WR should be able to do.
  • Finally a deep route comes open, but 84 (Watson) drops an easy toss that fell right in his basket.
  • Small sample size, but after today’s practice, I am not optimistic that our deep passing game will be a consistent threat this season. That will be a big change from the past few years – even if the NFL did go full chickenshit-zone to shut off our deep game last season, it was still an insta-kill threat that had to be accounted for on each and every play.  I think that changes significantly this year.
  • However, on the good side, all of our seam shots and slants look like pure money today, to WRs as well as various TEs and RBs. Hopefully that’s due more to good offense than bad coverage.
  • Just when I’m down on the passing game, Henne drops a sweet pass right in the cover-2 hole to Skyy.
  • Hardman’s deep skills do not seem to have improved. He turns the wrong way trying to track a ball over his shoulder, loses track of it as he flips around.  Sneed knocks it down without much effort, could’ve had the INT if he’d been trying harder.
  • 56 drops into coverage, like a sprinting concrete wall. And he knocks down a Mahomes pass!  Everybody congratulates him.  I think I saw him trying to find that ball later to keep as a souvenir.
  • 95 and 32 penetrate and blow up a draw play. Aw yeah.
  • Mahomes has to hold a ball due to good coverage, starts to scramble, then spots Juju uncovering just slightly behind Sneed down the sideline and drops a pinpoint pass right in the bucket. Aaaawww yeah.
  • I’m not letting myself get too optimistic about Pacheco, but he does seem to have some one-cut ability. Might be a dangerous slashing type runner behind this O-line.
  • Chenal just loves to stop other people’s momentum. It’s like if he sees someone moving in a direction that they want to go, he feels compelled to collide with them.
  • Slants have been money today, but 23 (Josh Williams) makes a rare play by chopping the ball out of Skyy Moore’s hands on a short route. It wasn’t easy, required very good coverage, and Moore went to the ground to try to save the catch, but Williams followed him down there and made it happen. Great competition between these rookies.
  • Chenal seems to be consistently the SAM backup throughout the scrimmage drills. Both rushing off the edge and backing out to flow with running plays going the opposite way.  He seems to be communicating very well pre-snap.
  • Haven’t noticed much Lonnie Johnson action today after the opening whistle. He seems to be the #3 RCB.
  • Special Teams time – Punt returners seem to be Hardman, Corey Coleman, and Skyy Moore, in that order.
  • Pacheco has a bobble problem when he fields kicks. It’s not big, but enough for me to see from the top of the bleachers twice today.  Needs to clean that up if he’s going to be Toub’s #1 kick returner.
  • The first fake punt is a run, sweep play to the right. But not sure, it might’ve been a mistake.  It doesn’t go very far, and is followed by some instruction from Toub.
  • During ST period the QBs and assistant coaches screw around on the opposite field knocking cones off tackle dummies and attempting 3-point shots from the 50 yard line into a net at the corner of the endzone. Mahomes wins, obviously.  It also looks like he could be a decent emergency punter.
  • After practice ends, the pass rushers get together and practice turning the corner around a particularly wide assistant coach. The DBs also get together and practice footwork over a trip-pad.
  • Justin Reid uses the post-practice autograph time to once again audition for a kicker’s job. He attempts a 40-yarder, and it’s good!  Actually makes it clear over the backstop net.  Then he tries a 50-yarder, and it lands near the 5 yard line… Good talent, needs to work on consistency.

And that’s it.  I’ve also got some photos I want to share, but can’t get them to preview here, so I’ll try posting them in the comments….

5 6 votes
Article Rating

Subscribe
Notify of
31 Comments
Newest
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
3rdnlong
08/14/2022 7:30 pm

Berserker, I’m going to shamelessly borrow these pics for the next book of Chiefs’ poems. Need some training camp shots and you have given some great ones.

larch
08/13/2022 6:59 am

This is great, thank you so much, B, along with the photos it gets me as close as I can be without being there. Love the line: “like a sprinting concrete wall.” Five stars and three cheers.
BTW where did Mike Caliendo come from? I read Saints mention him in last night’s AG OT, gonna do a search.

larch
Reply to  larch
08/13/2022 7:02 am

Quick search: OL Mike Caliendo played college ball at Western Michigan, undrafted free agent in ‘22.

larch
Reply to  larch
08/13/2022 7:37 am

A little more info: academic all-conference (MAC) honours & three year starter at Guard, high-school in Wisconsin, here’s a Wikipedia link…

Last edited 1 month ago by larch
saints_chiefsfan1979
saints_chiefsfan1979
08/13/2022 12:46 am

I have literally been waiting for this

Snafu
08/12/2022 10:29 pm

Thanks for the write-up.

NovaChiefs
08/12/2022 8:37 pm

Holy Guacamole! Nice job! Have one star! (jk, you get 5)

31
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x