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Chiefs Camp Update: Five Observations from Thursday's Practice

Here’s what you need to know from St. Joe

We have now entered the dog days of training camp in St. Joseph, Missouri.

The Kansas City Chiefs will practice every day for the next six consecutive days—the longest stretch of any time during the year. It began with a padded practice Thursday afternoon, which had more "fully live" periods than we've seen in any other camp in the four-plus years under coach Andy Reid. They were tackling to the ground during three separate periods.

The guys were coming off an off-day Wednesday, so Reid obviously wanted to see the guys get after it a little bit, and that's exactly what they did.

Here are five observations from Thursday's practice:

  1. Derrick Johnson returns to practice after a short absence

It wasn't anything major, but veteran linebacker Derrick Johnson returned to the field after missing the last two practices because of an abscessed tooth he had removed.

Running back Charcandrick West (ankle), defensive lineman Chris Jones (knee) and offensive lineman Parker Ehinger (kee) once again didn't practice, but were seen working out off to the side with the trainers during practice.

Kansas City Chiefs players and coaches work during training camp at MWSU day six.

Jones and Ehinger are on the (physically unable to perform) PUP list, along with linebackers Tamba Hali and Dadi Nicolas.

Judging from what those guys do in that "injured players" area during practice, the goal would be to get on the field as soon as possible. It doesn't look like fun hanging with head strength and conditioning coach Barry Rubin's crew. They are also getting after it.

Three cornerbacks—Keith Baxter (wrist), Terrance Mitchell (hamstring), and J.R. Nelson (groin), all left practice early Thursday with injuries.

  1. The live periods were the story of the day

The Chiefs haven't generally gone live to the ground very often before preseason games, which made Thursday's practice more exciting for the fans in attendance.

This was real football, particularly in the trenches, where run defense and establishing the line of scrimmage is about physicality.

During the first live period, safety Eric Berry met rookie running back Kareem Hunt in the hole, and Berry didn't give an inch upon contact.

Throughout the day, there may not have been a player more excited for the contact than right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, who was once again a standout during the 1-on-1 period, but also once they got to the team periods.

.@LaurentDTardif doing his thing today during 1-on-1's. #ChiefsCamp — BJ Kissel (@ChiefsReporter) August 3, 2017

Duvernay-Tardif, the future doctor, plays with an edge every time he's on the field. He also plays to the whistle and can constantly be seen driving his guy well after the play. It's the kind of attitude Reid loves and helped him sign his recent contract extension.

  1. The goal line run defense was on point

It's always the interesting thing about watching a camp practice, sometimes the defense looks great and deserves praise, but at the same time, maybe the offense just struggled.

But Thursday morning, there was a live goal line period that had the defensive linemen showing out. It was simply those guys getting after it.


Led by free agent veteran defensive lineman Bennie Logan, there was nowhere for the running backs to go. Logan, who has already been praised by his teammates through less than a week of live practice, looks to be a force and help a Chiefs' run defense that ranked 26th in the NFL last year.

Outside of a few creative play calls, motions, and formations, which had some of the defensive guys talking, the defensive line handled their business Thursday morning.  

On one specific play, defensive linemen Cam Thomas, Allen Bailey, Rakeem Nunez-Roches and Logan, stuffed a goal-to-go run and didn't allow Hunt an inch of space to fit through.

  1. Second-year cornerback D.J. White had the catch of the day

There have been a handful of young players who have made their presence felt through a few days of padded practices, and one of them is second-year cornerback D.J. White, who may have had the best practice of his camp Thursday morning.

White arguably made the best defensive play of the day during a 9-on-7 period in which quarterback Alex Smith threw the ball outside the numbers to the right, and White made a leaping interception for his first pick of camp. Before the snap, White was caught in a motion and had to quickly break to the outside, covering Tyreek Hill.

Once he saw the ball in the air, White attacked it and made a phenomenal leaping catch.


White, along with DeVante Bausby, has been primarily working with the second-team defense.

With Terrance Mitchell leaving practice early, the next man up for the first-team defense on the outside was Phillip Gaines.

A bit later in practice after the interception, White made a nice open field tackle on a quick pass to the outside. He was on an island and didn't allow a foot after the catch.

The cornerback position is one of the most competitive on the entire roster, and White was a standout Thursday.

  1. Rookie safety Leon McQuay III has best practice of his camp

Along with White, the player with the most impactful plays Thursday in the defensive backfield was rookie safety Leon McQuay, who was drafted by the Chiefs in the sixth round (No. 218 overall) out of USC.

McQuay consistently found himself around the ball, and along with White, had a nice interception near the red zone during a team period. He showed off his hops on the play.

McQuay has some versatility—playing both at cornerback and safety in college, but has spent all of his time with the Chiefs at safety.

Other notes from Thursday:

**The best throw of the day was a tie between Tyler Bray's deep toss on a post to Seantavius Jones during 9-on-7 early in practice, and then Smith's deep toss to Tyreek Hill on a fade late in practice.

One of the best throws of the day right here from @tbrayvol8 to @Stretchdiddat at #ChiefsCamp. — BJ Kissel (@ChiefsReporter) August 3, 2017

The adjustment Hill made with the ball in the air is what made the play from him so impressive. He fought inside for leverage so that Smith's pass, which was perfectly placed on his outside shoulder, had space on the outside. He basically "boxed out" his guy to make the play, but did it at full speed deep down the field.

Orson Charles, who is listed as a tight end, continues to work as a fullback in individual drills. He's currently the only one working behind veteran Anthony Sherman at the position.

Another guy to keep an eye on as camp moves forward is outside linebacker Earl Okine, who had a few nice plays and disruptions during the 9-on-7, and team periods. 

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