The Kansas City Chiefs took the practice field up in St. Joseph on Wednesday for the first real day of training camp, as the veteran players joined the quarterbacks, rookies and select individuals returning from injuries who reported last week.
It was a fun practice that included several big plays and plenty of excitement from the fans in attendance, who finally had their first chance to watch this year's edition of the team live and in person.
Here are five observations from Wednesday's practice period.
1. The gang was back together up in St. Joe.
A portion of the roster has been up at camp since Friday for a handful of introductory practices aimed at easing some players – notably rookies and those coming back from injuries – into the grind of camp before everyone else arrived. The squad is all in town now, however, as veterans reported to camp on Monday before taking the field for the first time on Wednesday morning.
It's the first time that the entire team has been together since mandatory minicamp - which took place last month – and they didn't waste any time getting started, working through a group install, a 7-on-7 period and a team portion of practice along with other activities.
"It's good to get the guys back," said Head Coach Andy Reid following practice. "They had great energy and we look forward to working with all the new guys up here."
Among the players who didn’t take the field on Wednesday were defensive end Malik Herring (knee), tight end Nick Keizer (back), offensive lineman Kyle Long (leg), long snapper James Winchester (COVID protocols) and tailback Darwin Thompson (COVID protocols). Reid also mentioned that linebacker Anthony Hitchens tweaked his hamstring during practice.
2. It was Season Ticket Member Day presented by GEHA.
The Chiefs exclusively limited Wednesday's practice to Season Ticket Members, providing them with the first opportunity to see the team in person. Fans in attendance received an STM license plate frame and had access to complimentary food trucks, beverage stands and ice cream.
And aside from the perks, there was simply an awesome atmosphere throughout practice that exemplified what makes attending camp so much fun.
"It's so great to have our fans back at training camp," said Chiefs Chairman & CEO Clark Hunt following practice. "I can think back to my experience as a kid coming to training camp with my dad and just how special that was, so it was great to see somewhere between 3,000-4,000 of our Season Ticket Members here today enjoying camp."
Season ticket members enjoy the first open day of training camp at Missouri Western State University.
3. Patrick Mahomes did Patrick Mahomes things.
Attending training camp provides for the opportunity to watch Mahomes do his thing in person, and almost right away, the 2018 NFL MVP didn't disappoint. In fact, during a 7-on-7 period early in Wednesday's practice, Mahomes dropped his arm angle and slung a sidearm pass by a defender right into the outstretched arms of wide receiver Tyreek Hill, who was sprinting across the middle.
It was absolutely ridiculous, but for those who have watched Mahomes over the last three seasons, the play was just another example of what makes the Chiefs' signal caller so special. It should be noted, too, that linebacker Anthony Hitchens read this play well and was in proper position to defend the pass, Mahomes is just capable of making throws that other quarterbacks cannot.
4. The wide receivers impressed early and often.
Kansas City's receiver corps had a strong practice on Wednesday and treated the crowd to a show during the first several snaps of the 7-on-7 period. First, on the second snap of the period, Demarcus Robinson made a tremendous leaping grab down the right sideline for a large gain.
Mahomes then found Hill on the aforementioned sidearm throw a play later before targeting rookie Cornell Powell, who also managed to haul in a leaping grab deep down the sideline for a sizable gain. It was an impressive reception that showed off Powell's length and aptitude to make contested grabs, each of which he showed off during his final year at Clemson.
Lastly, Mecole Hardman also chipped in a huge play by catching a deep pass from Mahomes that likely would have gone for a touchdown in a game situation. It all wrapped up into an exciting period that featured numerous big plays in the span of only a few minutes, treating the crowd to what they've come to expect from Kansas City's offense.
5. Willie Gay Jr. made some plays.
Gay will have an opportunity to earn a larger role on defense this season depending on how he fares in camp, and based on how he performed on Wednesday, it's safe to say he's off to a good start.
The former second-round pick tallied two pass breakups on the day, including a play in shallow coverage that saw him come up from behind the intended receiver and swat the ball away. Coverage skills are paramount at the linebacker position in the modern game, and Gay's ability to get his hands on the ball multiple times during Wednesday's practice was certainly encouraging as he enters his second year as a professional.
"He's more comfortable in the defense and the scheme," Reid said. "He's worked very hard at that, and we're looking for good things from Willie."