The Kansas City Chiefs powered through a hot morning of practice on Monday as training camp continued up in St. Joseph.
In terms of who didn't participate, tailback Darrel Williams (knee), offensive lineman Darryl Williams (COVID protocols), wide receiver Antonio Callaway (bone bruise), offensive guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (hand), defensive end Alex Okafor (hamstring), linebacker Willie Gay Jr. (concussion protocol), tight end Evan Baylis (ankle), offensive tackle Mike Remmers (back spasms), defensive end Malik Herring (knee) and offensive lineman Kyle Long (leg) didn't take the field.
Additionally, defensive end Joshua Kaindoh left Monday's session early with a hamstring injury.
Here are five observations from Monday's practice.
1. This was one of those days that can say a lot about a team.
We're in the middle of the "dog days" of camp as Monday's practice marked the 11th morning that the entire team took the field and the fifth day in pads. It's the definition of a grind, and to make things even more difficult, Monday's practice was one of the hottest sessions of camp to this point.
It was the kind of day that can provide some insight into the mentality of a football team.
"We got some good work done out there. I thought the guys grinded through. It was hot. It was one of those days where you find out about the personality of our team," said Offensive Coordinator Eric Bieniemy following practice. "They stuck it out and grinded together."
Bieniemy, who's experienced these types of days as both a player and a coach, went on to explain why hot mornings during the grind of camp can be beneficial in the long run.
"I always tell these guys that it takes uncommon people to do what we do. It's easy to tap out and it's easy to give in. We have to find a way to dig into our core and show – regardless of how mentally and physically tired we are – that we can finish until the next play," Bieniemy said. "That's all that matters, and if we can learn to do that together, we're going to have an opportunity to accomplish a lot of great things. That's what I appreciate about days like today…You want to find out who's all in."
2. Chris Jones and Jarran Reed are going to be a disruptive duo.
Jones has enjoyed a strong camp over the last few weeks, but he was particularly effective on Monday. The veteran defensive lineman continued to move all over the place – setting up at both defensive tackle and as an edge rusher – throughout the practice period, and he found success wherever he went with multiple would-be sacks. Fellow defensive lineman Jarran Reed was also impressive with several big plays as a pass-rusher and in the running game.
The addition of Reed may go down as one of the top moves of the offseason, as his presence is allowing Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo to be creative with where he deploys Jones. The duo has shown in practice that they can be devastating while lined up next to one another as tackles or with Jones coming off the edge while Reed provides a push inside.
It's something we've talked about ever since Reed signed with the Chiefs earlier this offseason, and perhaps more than any other time during this camp, the potential of this combination was on display during Monday's practice.
3. It was a strong practice for the Chiefs' second-year defenders.
Numerous members of Kansas City's sophomore class impressed on Sunday, from defensive linemen Mike Danna and Tershawn Wharton to cornerbacks L'Jarius Sneed and BoPete Keyes.
Wharton and Danna continued to show some good things during 1-on-1 drills, which pit an offensive lineman against a defensive lineman in a test of individual wills on a daily basis. These sorts of drills demand more than just sheer talent in order to find success. It's just as much about mental preparation and the fundamentals, which are both areas in which Wharton and Danna have shown noted growth during this camp.
That's important, too, because those two players are set to be critical cogs in the defensive line rotation this season. Just last week, Spagnuolo explained that Chris Jones won't be the only one lining up at different spots defensively this year. Both Danna and Wharton will likely be called upon to be versatile members of the Chiefs' front - contributing inside and on the edge – so their success thus far in camp is certainly encouraging.
The same can be said for Sneed, who has been playing multiple positions in the Chiefs' defense throughout camp. The second-year corner is playing outside in Kansas City's base defense and bounces inside to play slot corner in nickel, showing off a certain versatility that he hopes will mean a chance at never coming off the field.
"I love it," Sneed said following practice. "It's a challenge, but I don't want to come off the field."
Sneed made a great play to break up a pass deep down the sideline during practice, continuing what's been a strong camp for him. Fellow cornerback BoPete Keyes also made a play on Monday, picking off quarterback Shane Buechele in team drills.
4. Patrick Mahomes never ceases to amaze.
The defense was playing with some serious energy on Monday, which was especially impressive when considering the heat, but that didn't stop Mahomes from being Mahomes.
Mahomes took the snap, moved up in the pocket and fired a no-look, sidearm pass to wide receiver Mecole Hardman, who was sprinting across the field. It was reminiscent of Mahomes' no-look throw against the Ravens back in 2018 and provided just another casual reminder that Mahomes is special.
5. Anthony Gordon and Maurice Ffrench connected for an impressive touchdown.
We often talk about how the play is never dead with Mahomes at quarterback, but even when the 2018 NFL MVP isn't on the field, that same mentality still applies to the Chiefs' offensive attack.
That was on display during a red zone portion of Monday's practice, as Gordon moved to his left to evade pressure before throwing a dart to Ffrench, who made an impressive, leaping grab in the end zone.
Both Gordon and Ffrench - who each entered the NFL last year as undrafted free agents – will likely have an opportunity to show what they can do during Saturday's preseason matchup against San Francisco.
The Chiefs will return to practice on Tuesday at 9:15 a.m. CT.