Training Camp Observations

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Five Observations from Saturday's Practice | Chiefs Training Camp 8/6

Here are some quick notes from Saturday’s practice

The Kansas City Chiefs took the field for the ninth official practice of training camp on Saturday in preparation for the upcoming season.

Here's a quick rundown of what took place during Saturday'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 Saturday.

Defensive tackle Taylor Stallworth (knee contusion) didn't participate in Saturday's practice, marking a new addition to the injury report. Wide receiver Gary Jennings (concussion) and tight end Jody Fortson (quad) also didn't practice.

Wide receiver Daurice Fountain – who missed Thursday's practice with a groin injury – returned to the field on Saturday, but he left early due to a finger injury. He'll have an X-Ray done to determine the injury's severity.

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

2. The Chiefs were back in pads on Saturday.

Kansas City donned pads on Saturday, kicking off a stretch of three padded practices in four days. The Chiefs will be in pads again on Sunday and then again on Tuesday following a lighter practice on Monday.

The Chiefs competed in three consecutive padded practices last week, gradually increasing the duration of each practice before culminating in a two-hour and 25-minute session on Wednesday that completed the "ramp up" period. Kansas City had a lighter, "10-10-10" practice on Thursday and an off day on Friday, but beginning with Saturday's session, every padded practice moving forward will last two hours and 25 minutes.

We'll dig into the details of what happened throughout Saturday's practice below, but one of the top plays of the morning took place during wide receiver vs. defensive back 1-on-1 drills, when wide receiver Mecole Hardman hauled in a one-handed grab. It was a great start to the day for Hardman, who compiled one of his most productive practices of camp on Thursday. Simply put, the veteran wide receiver is enjoying a nice stretch of practices.

3. Kansas City worked on the two-minute drill during Saturday's practice, providing the defense – and later tight end Noah Gray – with a chance to shine.

Most training camp practices include standard segments that are quite similar from day to day, including install periods, individual work, 1-on-1 drills, 7-on-7 periods and full team drills. Every practice also features unique and specific situations, however, that provide the Chiefs with an opportunity to run through numerous real-world scenarios over the course of camp.

Saturday's practice was a great example of that, as the Chiefs utilized a team period to focus on the two-minute drill. Specifically, the offense was presented with a situation in which they needed at least a field goal to win the game.

The period included five total drives: two each by the first and second team and one by the third team. There were solid plays by both sides throughout the period, but overall, it was largely a victory for the Chiefs' young defense.

For example, defensive tackle Chris Jones and defensive end Mike Danna combined for a sack on the first snap of the period. Then, just three snaps later, the defense held to force a turnover on downs. Defensive end Joshua Kaindoh later tallied a pressure on the second team's first drive, ultimately leading to another win for the defense. That trend then continued on the third drive, as cornerback DeAndre Baker picked off quarterback Shane Buechele on fourth down to notch yet another defensive victory.

It was all part of a big day for the two-minute defense up and down the depth chart, but the offense made sure to end the period on a high note during the fifth and final drive. The eight-play series featured four receptions by tight end Noah Gray, a first-down grab by wide receiver Skyy Moore and a big catch by tight end Jordan Franks before kicker Harrison Butker nailed a 50-yard field goal as time expired.

It was an exciting conclusion to a productive period for both sides of the ball. Overall, for the defense, it was an example of the unit's collective growth in terms of coverage, generating pressure and building confidence. Gray's performance, meanwhile, was the main takeaway on offense. It was part of another solid day for Gray, who was also busy with multiple catches during 7-on-7 drills.

4. Cornerback Trent McDuffie had a strong day.

McDuffie made multiple plays throughout Saturday's practice in what has turned out to be a really strong stretch of camp for the rookie cornerback.

One such play took place during the aforementioned "two minute" period, when McDuffie tallied a pass-breakup on fourth down to record a win for the defense. McDuffie also added another pass-breakup later in the practice.

McDuffie only allowed 16 receptions on 36 targets all year long in 2021, so it's no surprise that his elite athleticism in coverage is already translating to training camp. He is one of several young cornerbacks, including fellow rookies Joshua Williams and Jaylen Watson, who continue to progress. McDuffie spoke about that growth following practice on Saturday.

"We started out with some bumps and bruises during [OTAs], but right now, the repetitions have given us so much more confidence," McDuffie said. "I feel like when we're out there on these long drive drills and we're tired or nothing is going our way, to be able to come together in the huddle and form as a group and understand that we're in this together really adds to our confidence as a defense."

5. The Chiefs also completed some 9-on-7 drills, which emphasize the running game.

A "9-on-7" segment of practice essentially removes the wide receivers and cornerbacks from the field, providing both sides of the ball with an opportunity to focus solely on the running game.

One player who stood out during Saturday's 15-minute 9-on-7 period was defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi, who has quietly put together a strong camp in terms of his "run fits," or ability to fill rushing lanes. Somebody has to do the often uncelebrated "dirty work" when defending the run, and Nnadi has looked strong in that area so far this summer.

It's also worth noting that defensive end Carlos Dunlap, who took the field for his first practice with the Chiefs on Thursday, participated in one 9-on-7 rep as part of his "ramp up" to full football activities. He also partook in some offensive line vs. defensive line 1-on-1 drills. The veteran pass-rusher will likely see his participation gradually increase as camp continues.

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

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