Chiefs Camp Update: Five Observations from Sunday's Practice

Posted Aug 13, 2017

News and notes to fill you in on what happened Sunday in St. Joseph, Missouri

The Kansas City Chiefs returned to the practice field Sunday morning for the first time since Friday night’s 27-17 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the first game of the preseason.

After the game, Chiefs coach Andy Reid mentioned that he thought the first team units on both sides of the ball played well, but that the “mixing and matching” with the “young kids” after that led to some poor execution.

With two turnovers and 11 penalties in total, the focus Sunday morning was on tightening up some of those things.

“We’ve got to get rid of some of these mistakes,” Reid noted during a conference call Saturday afternoon. “That’s where the focus is going to be (on Sunday). You don’t have officials at practice, but as coaches and as players we’ve got to stay disciplined in the things we’re teaching, and as players, how we’re handling situations.”

The Chiefs were in full pads Sunday morning.

Here are five observations from practice:

1. Several faces return to the practice field

Defensive lineman Chris Jones (knee) was taken off the PUP (physically unable to perform) list and was on the field practicing for the first time at camp.

“It felt great,” Jones said after practice of getting back out there. “I was telling (general manager) Brett (Veach) it felt so good to be out there with the guys, my brothers. I got tired of sitting in the tent just watching.

“You know, like a kid at home looking outside and you can’t play with the older kids. So, it was good to get back out there.”

During the game on Friday, Jones, who said it was difficult to not be able to play, was one of the first guys waiting for his fellow defensive linemen when they came off the field.

On one particular play, following veteran Allen Bailey’s big tackle for loss, Jones ran up and celebrated with Bailey as he was coming off the field. 

Jones participated in individual drills on Sunday, but did not do any team work.

“It is all about progression,” Jones added. “I am out here, I am punching in the clock. I am punching in the ticket. I am trying to get better in some area (every day). Even if it is just running, I am trying to get better out here.”

Fellow defensive lineman Bennie Logan (knee) and tight end Travis Kelce (knee) also returned to practice on Sunday.

Here’s a look at the full injury report from Sunday.

2. Travis Kelce looked good

Not only did Kelce return to practice after missing some time with a swollen knee, but he also looked pretty good out there.

“I thought he did a nice job,” Reid noted of Kelce. “I saw a couple nice grabs. He was able to step in and move around well. I didn’t see a drop off in what he did…got quite a few snaps.”

On a few different occasions, Kelce showed the kind of athleticism that made him a first-team All-Pro last year by making some adjustments to the ball in the air. It’d be hard to make those plays if the knee was still an issue.

“It feels great,” Kelce said. “It feels 100 percent. I got a little bit of that swelling out of there and sure enough I was out here going full speed. We got into a little bit of the blocking stuff, which I was held back from the last time I was out here due to my shoulder.”

Kelce was asked after practice if he is the same guy coming into this season as he has been in the past.

“I feel like I need to be a little bit more accountable in terms of the locker room and just being a leader,” Kelce explained. “I know we have a really young team on the offensive side of the ball and we need a lot of leadership to hone in the fun that we have.

“It’s a little bit more accountability I put on myself to be there for everybody, and make sure that everybody’s doing the right things and being professionals.”

This is along the same lines of what Kelce said back in February, when he spoke about a moment that opened his eyes.

3. Patrick Mahomes moved up to take reps with the second-team offense

For the first time at training camp, rookie quarterback Patrick Mahomes came in immediately after starter Alex Smith, which signified a change from what we’ve seen over the past couple of weeks.

Fifth-year player Tyler Bray had been getting those second-team reps.

After practice, Reid confirmed that Mahomes would be taking the second-team reps moving forward this week.

“Made a change at the quarterback position,” Reid said to open his post-practice media session. “We are going to give Patrick (Mahomes) a chance to work with the twos like Tyler (Bray) has had here the last couple of weeks. It is not because of [Bray’s] performance in the game. I think he actually played very well, and Patrick did a nice job, too.

“It gives [Mahomes] an opportunity to step up and work with that second group and see what he can do there.”

Mahomes finished Friday’s game against the 49ers by going 7 of 9 for 49 yards and a touchdown.

“He has worked very hard,” Reid added of Mahomes and what he’s seen from him to earn this promotion. “But it is being able to get in and function in the huddle while still seeing the defenses and the reads, knowing the calls that he needs to make to get in and out of trouble and both the run and the pass game. That would probably be it.”

Reid said he didn’t know yet about what the plan would be for the game on Saturday against the Cincinnati Bengals.

4. A heavier Rakeem Nunez-Roches continues to mix in along the defensive line

One of the first players to receive praise from Reid for their performance Friday night was third-year defensive lineman Rakeem Nunez-Roches, who finished with four tackles and was disruptive for much of the time he was on the field (26 snaps).

“He’s somebody I wanted to keep an eye on,” Reid explained. “He’s put on some weight, which you see with guys coming in, when they’re in the league for a couple years they figure out what that prime weight is. He put on some really good weight and he’s had a good camp, and it carried over to the game. I was curious to see how that worked.

“Before he was more of a pass-rush guy, but now he’s getting that run thing going and the pass, so that was good to see.”

After practice, Nunez-Roches confirmed that he gained about 25 pounds this offseason. He said he weighs about 310 pounds right now.

“There were a lot of things I could do off the ball being lighter,” Nunez-Roches explained. “I was always fast and agile and explosive, but anytime I was hit on my hip, I would go flying. So, I was like, ‘If I just add a little more in the lower half, I will be OK.’

“This offseason, I emphasized in that area and gained a good amount of weight. I started to run with it, condition with it, and see how I could move with it, and it has worked out pretty good.”

Nunez-Roches, who goes by the nickname “Nacho” to his coaches and teammates, explained how he gained the weight, which didn’t include world famous Kansas City barbecue.

“At first, no cardio, just eating. But not eating bad things—fish, chicken breast. No red meat, vegetables, things of that nature.”

During practice, Nunez-Roches continued to work with the first-team defense, which now has Jones and Logan back as well.

Overall, the defensive line is one of the deepest and strongest positions on the Chiefs’ roster.

5. Chris Conley looked solid, makes play of the day

Without question, receiver Chris Conley made the play of the day on a pass deep down the middle of the field from Alex Smith. He fully extended his arms to make the grab and was able to secure the ball as he hit the ground.

Not only was it nice to see him make that play, but it was nice to see Conley back on the field at all after suffering a knee contusion Friday night on a play that could have been much worse.

Midway through the second quarter, Conley was flipped end-over-end after making a catch across the middle. Milliseconds after the catch, a 49ers’ safety came flying in and hit Conley directly on the knee and flipped him over.

The play resulted in a 17-yard gain, but Conley slowly came off the field and didn’t return. He finished the game with two catches for a team-leading 46 yards.


The Chiefs return to the practice field Monday morning at 8:15.

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