The Kansas City Chiefs took the field in pads for the first time since Super Bowl LIV on Friday as Training Camp continued at the team facility.
Following practice, Head Coach Andy Reid provided an update on the players who didn't take the field on Friday.
"[Defensive end] Frank Clark has had a little bit of a stomach virus, so he's been sick. It's not COVID. [Linebacker] Darius Harris has been excused for personal reasons. [Cornerback] BoPete Keyes had an orbital fracture that he actually got before he got here," Reid said. "I think you know about [offensive lineman] Martinas Rankin, [safety] Juan Thornhill and Keyes—they're the same [players] that we've had on the PUP and NFI [lists]. [Defensive tackle] Devaroe Lawrence is excused for personal reasons and [tight end] Deon Yelder has a slight groin strain, so he's working through that."
For some additional context on Rankin (knee) and Thornhill (knee), both players were injured during last season and are still working their way back to the field.
In addition to Reid, tight end Travis Kelce, safety Tyrann Mathieu and safety Tedric Thompson spoke with the media via web call on Friday following practice.
Here are five takeaways from their pressers.
1. Reid addressed the major news of the day and shared his thoughts on Kelce's contract extension, which was announced prior to practice.
The news punctuated what's been a productive offseason for the Chiefs' front office, which has also included contract extensions for quarterback Patrick Mahomes and defensive tackle Chris Jones.
"My hat goes off to [Chairman & CEO] Clark Hunt. That's where it starts, and his support of [General Manager] Brett Veach and Brett's crew in working these deals and getting them done," Reid said. "Then, we appreciate the players and their attitude. They're good guys, but they're good football players that like to play the game. So, you enjoy being around those guys and you're proud of the effort they put into wanting to stay."
Reid went on discuss what it's been like to watch Kelce grow into not only the best tight end in all of football, but also as a leader in the locker room.
"Just the fact that he's been voted a playoff captain the last couple of years - three years I think - probably says everything," Reid said. "Everyone here has watched him grow before their eyes - fans included. Still though, he comes to work every day wanting to get better, so you love that part of him. He brings energy every day. I've been lucky enough coaching his brother and they're both that way. They're wired where they want to be the best, but yet they enjoy playing the game like no other—like you're playing in the backyard type-thing."
2. Following Reid's presser, Kelce explained why sticking around in Kansas City was so important to him.
"There are a lot of reasons. One is because we have great guys in the locker room, great people in the facility, and overall, it's just a fun atmosphere every single time you come to work. Guys don't want to leave that. Guys want to keep building off of that. It's a beautiful thing when you have ownership that trusts in you and wants to make change with you in terms of the season and the community," Kelce said. "On top of that, going out there and playing football with guys that come to work every single day and fight their tail off for you. It's a beautiful thing. This community - Kansas City - I love you, and I'm thankful I'm going to be here for the next six years."
Kelce's numbers since entering the league back in 2013 speak for themselves. He's the fastest tight end in NFL history to 500 career catches – doing so in just 95 games – and with yet another 1,000-yard season in 2019, Kelce became the first tight end in the history of the game to tally four-straight 1,000-yard campaigns.
Those unprecedented accomplishments have earned Kelce comparisons with Pro Football Hall of Famer and Chiefs' legend Tony Gonzalez, which has fueled the 30-year-old Kelce to reach greater heights.
"Everyone has always tried to compare me to Tony since I got here just because of the position. He's a Hall of Famer, man. The reason he's a Hall of Famer is because he did it the right way every single time. He was out here in this community trying to make it better and trying to show everybody his face by getting out from under the face mask and make a difference. That's what I'm trying to do every single year," Kelce said. "I'm teaming up with Operation Breakthrough on some more things - so we have some news coming with that. Outside of just being a great competitor, I try to model my professionalism off of what Tony had already started here. I knew it was something that was a model for success. I want to thank everyone for comparing me to Tony, [because it makes] me want to up the ante every single time."
3. And while several of the Chiefs' core players have earned well-deserved contract extensions over the last few seasons, Kelce is adamant that their collective hunger for another title is alive and well.
"You can see it right away. We have a pretty good understanding of how to get there - we did it last year – and we have great leaders in this locker room. When I say that, I mean that it's every single day. It's not like one day it's someone else. Every single day, we have the same guys leading the charge and not settling for anything less than what we did last year or even more so, [turning it] up and doubling down on everything that we did last year," Kelce said. "It's a mindset and everyone is just eager to get out there and get to work. As long as we're working our tails off every day, we have the players to make plays on Sundays. We just have to put in the work to get down the timing of things, make sure our fundamentals are there and then just go out there and have fun on Sundays."
4. On the other side of the ball, Mathieu spoke about the Chiefs' energy at practice on Friday as they suited up in pads for the first time.
"The energy level is just the standard we've tried to set here. Everyone talks about the offense and what those guys can do, [but] defensively, we're just trying to live up to the standard that we set last season," Mathieu said. "That means showing up, getting to the ball, making plays on the ball and uplifting everyone and bringing everyone along with us. It's probably going to be a little bit tougher for the defense [because] we didn't have a spring. I think defense is different because you have to get in front of the offense and see the speed, see the motions and understand adjustments. Offensive guys can run routes and work on their timing, [but] for us, we have great coaches and great leadership on defense and we're highly motivated to pick up where we left off last season."
Indeed, the Chiefs' defense was among the best in the league through the final portion of the 2019 campaign. In fact, from Week 11 through the end of the regular season, Kansas City yielded a league-low seven touchdowns while holding opposing quarterbacks to the lowest passer rating in the NFL (63.5).
5. Lastly, Thompson – who signed with the Chiefs this summer – talked about his experience so far through his first camp in Kansas City.
Thompson spent the entirety of his young career with the Seattle Seahawks prior to signing with the Chiefs, seeing action in 29 games with 16 starts in that time. Primarily utilized on special teams as a rookie, Thompson established himself as a regular on Seattle's defense during his second campaign in 2018. He appeared in 14 games (10 starts) and recorded 57 tackles (41 solo), three passes defensed, an interception and a forced fumble while stepping in for injured All-Pro safety Earl Thomas.
He played in six contests in 2019 (all starts) with 19 tackles (9 solo) and two interceptions before a shoulder injury ended his season, but he's healthy now and already enjoying the atmosphere with the Chiefs.
"I think Andy Reid's camp is just different from the tempo, from the speed and the offense. You're going against [wide receiver] Tyreek Hill. You're going against all receivers who run 4.2 or 4.1 [second 40-yard dash times], so I feel like it's just so up-tempo," Thompson said. "You're running from one spot to another, so I think that's the biggest thing. The guys here are about their business trying to get a second [championship]."
The Chiefs return to practice on Saturday as they continue to prepare for the season-opener on Sept. 10.