Training Camp Observations

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Five Observations from Monday's Practice | Chiefs Training Camp 8/8

Here are some quick notes from Monday’s practice

The Kansas City Chiefs took the field for the 11th official practice of training camp on Monday in preparation for the upcoming season.

Here's a quick rundown of what took place during Monday's practice, and for reference, every previous practice report can be accessed through the links below.

1. There was one addition to the injury report on Monday.

Wide receiver Daurice Fountain, who has dealt with two injuries (groin and finger) over the last few days, missed Monday's practice due to the groin injury. Defensive tackle Taylor Stallworth (knee contusion), wide receiver Gary Jennings (concussion) and tight end Jody Fortson (quad) also didn't practice.

Cornerback Rashad Fenton and offensive tackle Lucas Niang remain on the "PUP" list and did not participate.

2. The Chiefs took the field for a lighter practice on Monday.

The Chiefs are in a stretch of seven padded practices in 11 days, marking a significant grind in preparation for the preseason opener on Aug. 13. With that all in mind, Head Coach Andy Reid formulates the schedule in such a way so that the players receive relative physical breaks every few days while still dedicating time to the mental aspect of the game in between padded practices. It's akin to a runner training hard for an upcoming marathon for two or three days, then taking a day off to physically rest, but still taking time to study the route between hard runs.

Monday was one of those "mental days," as the players took the field in helmets, shells and shorts for a lighter practice that emphasized the fundamentals of the playbook. Specifically, this was another "10-10-10" practice," which includes two to three cycles of 10 offensive plays, 10 defensive plays and 10 special teams' plays. These practices provide an opportunity to gain mental reps and build muscle memory while ideally achieving what success should look like in any given situation. For example, during the offensive period, the first-team offense will often line up across from the second or third team defense. The same is true for the defensive period, where the first-team defense will compete against the second or third team offense.

"Long drive drills" and red zone were each areas of emphasis during the period. The Chiefs will return for a standard, two-hour and 25-minute padded practice on Tuesday.

3. Wide receivers Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Mecole Hardman each found the end zone.

Several pass-catchers found success during the offensive periods of Monday's practice, which included touchdown grabs by both Valdes-Scantling and Hardman.

Hardman, who has stacked several strong days together in a row, recorded his touchdown on a short route just inside the front pylon. Valdes-Scantling's score took place on a "corner route" in the back of the end zone, once again demonstrating the Chiefs' ability to use his 6-foot-4 frame in the red zone with success. Valdes-Scantling is known mostly for being a vertical threat due to his tremendous speed, but unlocking his ability as a red zone target has clearly been an emphasis in camp.

Elsewhere, wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and tight end Travis Kelce each recorded productive days, as both players hauled in a number of short passes underneath.

4. Several defenders made plays on the football.

The defensive period got off to a strong start on Monday as linebacker Willie Gay tallied a pass-breakup and a near interception on quarterback Shane Buechele early in practice. Defensive back L'Jarius Sneed also had a strong practice, tallying a pass-breakup over the middle and later an interception on rookie quarterback Dustin Crum. Safety Juan Thornhill, meanwhile, tallied an interception on a deep pass.

Additionally, rookie cornerback Trent McDuffie made a heads up play during practice that will likely further endear himself to Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. Cornerbacks are required to be willing tacklers in Spagnuolo's scheme, and while it seems like an obvious prerequisite to play professional football, the reality is that making physical plays on the ball-carrier is not always a strength of young corners.

Fortunately, McDuffie – who was an excellent run-defender in college – has the traits to thrive in that area right away. That awareness and willingness was evident during Monday's practice, as McDuffie successfully stopped a quarterback bootleg run by Shane Buechele short of the end zone. It may seem like a small note, but McDuffie's ability to diagnose the quarterback run and to ultimately stop it is an encouraging sign for his development.

5. Wide receiver Cornell Powell had a strong practice.

Powell, who spent last season on the Chiefs' practice squad, put together an impressive performance on Monday with multiple catches downfield. His first grab took place during a defensive period of the "10-10-10" format, as Powell went up and hauled in a contested grab deep down the sideline. The pass, which was thrown by Shane Buechele, was a good example of the fact that while these periods are designed for one side to ideally "win" the play, the other side is still working to find success, too. Powell added another leaping catch downfield a bit later, hauling in a pass from Dustin Crum.

This wasn't the first impressive practice for Powell, as he also recorded a memorable performance during the second "preliminary" practice on July 24 with several leaping, full-extension catches downfield. That was before the veterans arrived and camp fully got underway though, so it was good to see Powell put together another strong morning on Monday.

The Chiefs will return to practice on Tuesday. For more information on training camp or for a schedule of practices, click here.

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