TRAINING CAMP OBSERVATIONS

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Five Observations from the Chiefs’ Practice on Thursday

Throughout training camp, Chiefs Reporter B.J. Kissel will share his top observations from each practice.

Here are five things that stood out Thursday morning:

1.    Two players had fantastic days

There were a lot of plays ran Thursday morning at Kansas City Chiefs training camp, which meant there were a lot of opportunities for guys to make plays.

“The guys competed,” Chiefs’ coach Andy Reid said after practice. “There was some good and some bad on both sides of the ball and some stuff we can work on. It was great to get this stuff on tape. That’s the best part, so we can get in and study it.”

Players and coaches working during Thursday's training camp practice

There were two guys, specifically—one on each side of the ball—who really stood out as having good days over the course of the practice, which lasted just shy of three hours and came during what was probably the hottest day of camp to this point.

On the defensive side, it was cornerback Steve Nelson who always seemed to be near the ball.

Nelson, who had already put together a solid start to his camp, had multiple interceptions during the different periods of practice on Thursday.

“I’m just setting the tone for the season for myself and the defense,” Nelson said after practice. “I’m just believing in myself and trusting my offseason training to go out there with a mindset to make plays.”

Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Steven Nelson (20) during practice on 8/2/18 at Chiefs Training Camp at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, Missouri.

On the offensive side of the ball, it was Demarcus Robinson who had a good day, which may have been highlighted by his one-handed grab that’s probably the best play of camp to this point, but it wasn’t his only impressive play.

“Patrick [Mahomes] and I stayed and worked out together this offseason,” Robinson explained. “It was just a matter of getting everything down in the playbook. I’m way more confident now—just getting more acquainted in the playbook and knowing all three spots on the field. I don’t have to think about it anymore. I just go out there and make plays.”

After practice, Reid shared his thoughts on how Robinson has progressed now into this third year in the league.

“He can play all three spots,” Reid noted. “The mental mistakes are going away and he’s doing a good job. That’s a lot to juggle and he’s handling it and working hard. These guys got a little tired today and had a lot of plays. They got a lot of work.”

2. Patrick Mahomes’ day

Much like we’ve seen over the first week or so of camp, there were good plays and there were learning experiences for Mahomes on Thursday. There was a lot of work in goal-to-go situations—both in team and some smaller-group periods, and that means the throwing lanes were narrower and there were more bodies around.

Here’s a good look at one of the periods in which there were four defenders and three receivers.

After practice, Mahomes guessed he threw around 100 passes at practice on Thursday, which he said is about normal for him so far.

That’s important to keep in mind as people report what’s happening in terms of numbers during practice.

“He’s doing a great job,” Reid noted of his young quarterback. “I know people wrote about the interceptions yesterday. I told you all from the beginning that I don’t care about that stuff. I want him to test the offense. It’s so important. We give him a ton of plays and I want him testing it.

“If you don’t have the intestinal fortitude to go test it then you’re going to be one of those quarterbacks that checks it down every time and that’s not what it’s all about. The great thing about Pat is that he never makes the same mistake twice. It doesn’t happen. He sees everything. He knows it. When he makes a mistake, he comes back and can talk to you about it. He’s done nothing but get better and better as we go. He’s had a load on him here and is responding exactly how we’d like.”

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) during practice on 7/28/18 at Chiefs Training Camp at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, Missouri.

Reid, as he’s often done when asked about Mahomes’ development, spoke about the benefit of him getting to watch a veteran like Alex Smith last year.

“I think you saw Alex grow into having trust into throwing it down the field because he practiced it,” Reid added. “Then he became a very good down-the-field thrower. He worked on that. He was diligent about it, just like Patrick is doing. Pat had a chance to watch Alex continue to progress in throwing the ball down the field, so it was a great experience for him.”

The fact that Smith led the league in down-field passing last year only means Mahomes had a pretty good mentor to watch during a critical development season for him.

Now, Mahomes is getting all the reps and throwing a lot of passes and learning what he can and can’t do, which is exactly what camp is all about for him and the passing game.

3. Some of the other top plays from Thursday

Besides the plays from Nelson and Robinson, here’s a quick guide of some other plays that stood out:

Second-year receiver Jehu Chesson had a couple of touchdowns during the goal-to-go period early in practice.

During this period, the defense had two corners and two safeties on the field, while the offense had three receivers out running routes.

Demarcus Robinson also had a fantastic catch during this period in which he high-pointed the ball over the cornerback and appeared to get both of his feet in bounds.

Gehrig Dieter, Chris Conley and Daniel Braverman all made nice catches on the day as well.

Veteran safety Daniel Sorensen also had a nice interception during a team period late in practice.

4. They did a lot of goal-to-go work

If there was one theme to Thursday’s practice, it’s the fact that there was a lot of goal-to-go work done within the different periods throughout the day.

For the quarterbacks, that meant a lot of tight window throws.

It’s obviously an important aspect of the game and one that the Chiefs finished last season by converting 66.7 percent of goal-to-go situations into touchdowns, which ranked 22nd in the league.

5. Thursday’s injury update

After missing the last two days with a foot strain, second-year linebacker Ukeme Eligwe was back on the field Thursday morning for the Chiefs’ defense.

But two offensive linemen—Eric Fisher and Cam Erving— both left early with injures.

“Fish tweaked his shoulder a little bit and Cam tweaked his knee,” Reid said after practice.

DL Derrick Nnadi (Elbow), OL Dillon Gordon (unspecified), WR Marcus Kemp (ankle), LB Reggie Ragland (knee), CB Keith Reaser (quad), and RB Charcandrick West (concussion) also didn’t practice on Thursday.

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