The Kansas City Chiefs were back at training camp practice at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, Missouri on Saturday.
Following the day off on Friday, the Chiefs kept the energy high during practice. There were plenty of standout plays on both offense and defense, with the team participating in several team 11-on-11 periods throughout the course of practice. The defense got work on blitzes and their dime package. The offense worked on things like team run drills, the quick passing game and the two-minute drill.
With all of that in mind, here are a few of the things that we’re taking away from the latest practice session:
Trent McDuffie seems to be getting more comfortable
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel
McDuffie has seen a quiet training camp to this point, but something really seemed to click for the rookie on Saturday. He’s had some issues with the length of bigger receivers like Marquez Valdes-Scantling and JuJu Smith-Schuster, but he’s making progress there. He’s continued to show sticky coverage against some of the faster wideouts too.
There were two plays that really stood out from McDuffie on the day. One came against JuJu Smith-Schuster on a corner route where he got his hand on the ball for a pass defended.
Another one came in 11-on-11 team drills, where McDuffie played through the catch with his hands and popped the ball out on Mecole Hardman.
“Getting to this point of camp, I think a big thing for me is just finishing,” McDuffie said after practice. “Everything doesn’t go perfect (on every snap). I might mess up on the line with my technique or at the top of the route, but being able to fight through that adversity and finish on the ball at the end of the play, I think is something I’m working hard at and something that you saw out there today. It’s something I’m trying to do each and every day.”
The rookie corner seems to be steadily building confidence and good habits that will surely translate to the regular season.
Defensive line boasting versatility
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
The Chiefs mixed things up on the defensive line quite a bit during practice on Saturday. During their earliest 11-on-11 period, the team seemed to be working some of their blitz packages and that included some unique alignments from the defensive line. Media and fans in attendance saw snaps with Chris Jones lining up on the outside at a defensive end, something that he’s done at times in the past.
FOX 4 Kansas City’s PJ Green Steve Spagnuolo’s NASCAR alignment with Jones and Mike Danna on the inside and George Karlavtis and Frank Clark on the edge. Other periods of practice featured a combination of Jones at edge, Khalen Saunders at nose tackle and both Danna and Clark rushing from the outside. Another time they had Jones on the outside with Karlavtis on the inside. This group seems to have the versatility to do a lot of different things and once Carlos Dunlap gets up to speed it’ll add another element to the group as well.
Slimmed-down Orlando Brown Jr. flashing in pass protection
AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann
Could a slimmed-down Orlando Brown Jr. have a greater edge in pass protection this season? The franchise-tagged left tackle showed up to training camp looking like he’s put in the work to lose some weight during the offseason. Several media members and fans in attendance noted that the left tackle looked a little bit quicker in pass protection during practice on Saturday.
Frank Clark, George Karlavtis, Carlos Dunlap — they all tried Brown in 1-on-1 drills and he shut them down. It’s tough to tell if this was a function of the particular things they were working on in the 1-on-1 drills, but Brown looks good regardless. He also flashed in team drills, where he helped lock down the blindside for Mahomes during the early blitz period. Perhaps a sign of a big season to come for Brown as he seeks a long-term extension from the team.
Mecole Hardman is the master of metaphors
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel
Chiefs WR Mecole Hardman was in rare form after practice on Saturday. He had a lot of fun with the media, speaking in metaphors and asking them some fun questions as well.
When asked about his role on special teams as a punt returner, he described himself as the Amazon Prime option and everyone else as the regular Amazon option.
It was a bit of a head-scratcher, but I took it to mean that he is the preferred option (Prime), but sometimes that option won’t be available. Hardman is expected to play a larger role on offense this season, which would mean he’s unable to contribute as frequently on special teams. This is similar to the way that Dave Toub used Tyreek Hill when his role on offense increased. He never ruled out using Hill on punts because he was always a threat to take it the distance, but he saved those opportunities for when the team really needed a play.
This wasn’t the only metaphor that Hardman busted out after practice, though. Hardman made a slick one-handed grab over rookie CB Nazeeh Johnson in 1-on-1 drills early on during the day.
“I really didn’t want to touch the ground, man,” Hardman said of the play. “Kind of like if a cat falls or something, they don’t want to fall. Speaking of that, have you ever seen ‘Cats: The Musical’? That’s kind of how I feel out there, honestly.”
What exactly did Hardman mean with the “Cats: The Musical” comment? Well, I’m not sure he even fully knows.
Maybe the next metaphor we’ll get out of Hardman will be from Will Ferrell’s “Blades of Glory.”