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Five Observations from Monday's Chiefs Camp Practice

News and notes from Monday’s practice at Chiefs’ training camp

The Kansas City Chiefs held their second padded practice of training camp Monday morning.

Here are five observations from Monday:

  1. Injury update: Derrick Johnson doesn't practice

As all eyes were looking around for Justin Houston Sunday morning when he wasn't on the field as practice began, which as it turned out, was due to a NFL-mandated drug test—those same eyes were searching for veteran Derrick Johnson on Monday.

But Johnson would never make it to the field.

After practice, the media learned Johnson had an abscess tooth, and needed to have it removed. That's why he wasn't out there.

Also missing practice Monday were running back Charcandrick West (ankle), safety Jordan Sterns (illness) and cornerback Kenneth Acker (groin).

Receiver Antwan Goodley left early (hamstring).

Tamba Hali, Chris Jones, Dadi Nicolas and Parker Ehinger remain on the (Physically Unable to Perform) PUP list.

Kansas City Chiefs players and coaches work during the fourth day of training camp.

  1. Two quarterbacks lead two impressive drives

Without question, it was the best 15 minutes of practice on Monday.

During an 11-on-11 period in which the offense was tasked with beginning the drive backed up on their own 12-yard line, both Alex Smith and rookie Patrick Mahomes  lit it up.

Smith marched the first-team offense 88 yards down the field in 10 plays, converting a crucial third-and-8 to tight end Demetrius Harris to continue the drive.

To finish off the drive, Smith found tight end Travis Kelce for a touchdown.

It was a clean, methodical drive from Smith, who continues to have a great camp.

A bit later, it was the Mahomes' turn to show what he could do.

It took Mahomes' eight plays to march his group down for the score, and the unquestioned highlight of this drive was a third-and-15 completion to rookie receiver Jehu Chesson, who made a fantastic leaping catch for the third-down conversion.


Mahomes then found rookie Marcus Kemp on a fade deep down the left sideline for the touchdown. It was by far the best practice for Kemp, who has been with the team since rookie minicamp.

Another one of the top plays from this drive was Mahomes running to his right, then firing back across his body and across the field to his left to Chesson, who picked up a chunk of yards—solidifying the best practice of his young career.

It was another positive sign for the young quarterback, who continues to show flashes of the ability that made him the franchise's first first-round quarterback selected since 1983.

  1. Alex Smith is having a fantastic camp

When you've been in the league as long as Smith has and you've had the kind of success he's had throughout his career, the plays he makes during a training camp practice have become expected.

Smith consistently and methodically moves the ball down the field, and seemingly always throw it to the right guy in the right situation. It's nothing new, but it seems to have gone up a tick this year.

What Smith has done over the first week or so of Chiefs' training camp this year, particularly in 11-on-11 periods, has been nothing short of fantastic.

#MondayMotivation c/o Alex Smith ➡️ @tkelce — Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) July 31, 2017

Smith is firing the ball around every level of the defense, and he made another phenomenal throw Monday afternoon—this time to Albert Wilson, who had gotten over the top of the defense and cornerback Marcus Peters.

Smith perfectly hit him in stride for a touchdown.

It should be noted that earlier in the day, Peters nabbed an interception—his second in as many days.

Overall, this has arguably been Smith's best camp thus far in his four-plus years in Kansas City.

  1. Rookie Tanoh Kpassagnon proving to be tough to handle

After just two days of showing what he could do in pads, rookie second-round pick Tanoh Kpassagnon has impressed those he's going up against every day at practice.

"He looks good," veteran right tackle Mitch Schwartz said of Kpassagnon. "He's definitely got ability. He's a big kid. He's long, he has really long arms. He's got a kind of slipperiness about him and he's got good power with the length.

"He's got a little bit of wiggle, so it's definitely impressive."

Here's a look at rookie DL Tanoh Kpassagnon from earlier today at #ChiefsCamp. — BJ Kissel (@ChiefsReporter) July 30, 2017

Kpassagnon, like all of the rookies, was eager to get the pads on to show everyone what he could do when the game got real and became physical.

"I definitely thought I could prove more what I could do once the pads were on," he said.

Kpassagnon was particularly impressive during 1-on-1 periods over the last two days.

"They (one on one drills) were good," he explained. "Really good, but I could always get better. I've been really working on the things coach [Britt Reid] has been telling me, so it's fun and it's nice that I'm putting it to work."

It appeared to be another good day for rookie DL Tanoh Kpassagnon. Here's a look at a few of his reps. — BJ Kissel (@ChiefsReporter) July 31, 2017

After practice, Chiefs' defensive coordinator Bob Sutton said they're working Kpassagnon both along the defensive line, and also coming off the edge.

"We are working him both places right now," Sutton explained. "He has done a good job. He has a knack for rushing. He is long. Just like Chris (Jones), Chris does a great job of getting his hands up and affecting throws. I think [Kpassagnon] would be the same there."

"They got me at 'backer now, I like it," Kpassagnon added. "You get to see more and kind of calculate what you're gonna do a lot faster."

As far as learning to play faster, Kpassagnon has been getting some help from his teammates.

"They're all giving me pointers," he explained. "Like [Allen] Bailey especially has been teaching me what he used to do when he was making the same mistakes as me, and then like Tamba [Hali] was telling me all these grabs and stuff, so it's just cool learning from these older guys."

  1. Different guys mixing in at kick returner

With Tyreek Hill reportedly set to take a reduced role on his kick return duties, when speaking with reporters after practice, Chiefs' special teams coach Dave Toub wouldn't completely rule out Hill's ability to step in there and pinch hit from time to time.

But with Hill taking at least a step back in that role, Toub had the opportunity to speak about the guy set to take the majority of those returns for the time being—De'Anthony Thomas.


And it's safe to consider Toub a huge fan.

"I am so happy (for him)," Toub said of Thomas. "Last year, [Thomas] ended up becoming one of my best special teams players. He ended up making a whole bunch of tackles for us. He is a solid catcher, and he is tough. Pound for pound, he's the toughest player we've got."

"He's not afraid," Toub added. "He's 176 pounds, and he plays like a 200 pounder. He's not afraid to stick his head in there on kickoff and makes tackles. He is real tough as a gunner. He has quickness and top speed so he makes plays there. Then he brings a lot in the return game, both kick return and punt return."

As far as other guys Toub likes who are mixing in on kick return duties, there were a few.

"I like (Demarcus) Robinson," Toub added. "He's looking good. (Jehu) Chesson is coming along as a rookie. I like (Chris) Conley, I have always like Conley. He is really looking good. And (Kareem) Hunt, we are going to keep working him. Just like the same thing we did with Knile (Davis). Knile did not do a lot of kick returns when he got here until we started training him and he came along. Hunt has that ability as well."

Other notes from practice:

Veteran offensive lineman Andrew Tiller (6'4", 324 pounds), who has played in 27 games (14 starts) over the past two years for the San Francisco 49ers, showed some strength and balance during a few 1-on-1 reps Monday morning.

Also during the OL-DL 1-on-1's, another guy who has flashed over the past two days is Ricky Ali-ifua. He showed an ability to disrupt and get into the backfield.

The folks from NFL Network were on site Monday, which included Maurice Jones-Drew, Rhett Lewis, Daniel Jeremiah and Jeff Chadiha.

Here's a look at a bit of their content:

Also, rookie undrafted free agent receiver Gehrig Dieter also made a handful of nice catches Monday morning, including a diving reception along the sideline that, along with Chesson's earlier in the day, were the top two plays of the day.

Receiver Seantavius Jones has become a trendy name to watch during camp this year. He did it again Monday—making plays with his impressive size and ability.

Zach Fulton and Bryan Witzmann continue to split first-team reps at left guard, but Witzmann has taken the lion's share of the reps.

Rookie linebacker Ukeme Eligwe had a nice pass breakup as he got some run with the first-team defense. Eligwe carried the seam and batted the pass down as it was intended for running back Spencer Ware.

After practice, Toub spoke very highlight of Eligwe. You can read more about that later here on

More camp coverage:

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