The Kansas City Chiefs took the field in pads for the fifth time in six days on Monday as Training Camp continued at The University of Kansas Health System Training Complex.
In terms of who didn't take the field on Monday, offensive guard Kelechi Osemele (shoulder), defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi (ankle), safety Armani Watts (sick), defensive tackle Braxton Hoyett (shoulder), wide receiver Maurice Ffrench (knee), defensive end Alex Okafor (calf), tight end Deon Yelder (groin), defensive end Mike Danna (calf) and offensive lineman Martinas Rankin (knee) were all sidelined due to injuries.
Wide receiver Gehrig Dieter (groin), offensive lineman Yasir Durant (head) and linebacker Emmanuel Smith (hamstring) also left practice early with injuries.
Lastly, wide receiver Tyreek Hill (hamstring) and linebacker Damien Wilson (ankle) participated in individual drills on Monday as they work their way back to the field.
For what happened on the field, here are a few quick notes from Monday's practice:
- Linebacker Darius Harris came away with a pick-six during team drills.
- Wide receiver Byron Pringle hauled in a tough touchdown catch in the corner of the end zone during a 7-on-7 period.
- Safety Tyrann Mathieu tallied a pass break-up in red zone team drills.
- Wide receiver Mecole Hardman caught a touchdown pass in stride during a 7-on-7 drill.
Following practice, Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, defensive tackle Chris Jones, safety Daniel Sorensen and wide receiver Jody Fortson spoke with the media via web call.
Here are five things that stood out from their pressers.
1. Spagnuolo spoke about linebacker Willie Gay Jr. and how he's working through his first camp as a professional.
"Willie has done a nice job. Look, there's a long way to go at that spot, but I like the way that Willie has worked with the veterans. He's always talking to them. He's asking [linebackers Anthony Hitchens], Damien Wilson and Ben Niemann questions, who are three smart football players," Spagnuolo said. "He's engaged and he loves the game of football - that's what I love about him. For the rest of it, [Linebackers Coach] Matt House and [Linebackers/Outside Linebackers Coach] Britt Reid will get that part worked out, but he loves to play. He's a big and physical guy, so we can work with that and, hopefully, we can develop him and he can help us this year."
The Chiefs selected Gay Jr. with the No. 63 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
2. Speaking of the defense, Jones explained how competing against the Chiefs' high-octane offense in practice is making the defense better every day.
"Day in and day out, we're competing with one of the best offenses in the league. When we're able to go out on that field and compete with those guys, the sky is the limit for us," Jones said. "With all the weapons that [the offense] has and as dynamic as they are, they're able to score at any time, so competing with those guys elevates us as a defense."
The Chiefs featured the top scoring defense in the NFL from Week 11 through the end of the regular season, and as they try to carry that momentum into 2020, going head-to-head with quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs' offense on a daily basis certainly can't hurt.
3. Jones also spoke about the lofty goals that he has for himself entering his fifth year in the NFL.
Jones has never sold himself short when it comes to goals, and best of all, he's come through on them. Back in 2018, Jones declared that he wanted to lead the league in sacks and he nearly did so, racking up 15.5 sacks on the year and ranking third in the NFL. Then, following the Chiefs' loss in the AFC Championship Game that season, Jones claimed that Kansas City would make the Super Bowl in 2019, and right on cue, the Chiefs were in Miami for Super Bowl LIV one year later.
Now, with a new contract in hand, Jones has decided that he wants to win Defensive Player of the Year and bring multiple championships back to Kansas City. He spoke about that mindset on Monday.
"That's something that I've always done throughout my career. I've set my standards high as a player and tried to incorporate that with my team," Jones said. "If I'm the best defensive player in the league, then I'm obviously doing well for my team and helping this defense be one of the best in the league. That's my main goal every year – to be the best that I can be and to be the best defensive player in this league."
4. Sticking on the defensive side of things, Sorensen was asked how they're maintaining a level of intensity in camp with the regular season inching closer by the day.
"If you've ever seen the Badger [Tyrann Mathieu] out at practice, that dude is as intense as it gets. We just follow his lead. Every day, there is something that sets him off and he's fired up about something, and that gets the rest of us going," Sorensen said. "It's fun to have guys like that who care about practice, can come in every day and compete, get the juices going and get the guys going. Without fail, he brings it every day. We follow some great leadership on this team and that's what is going to keep us going."
5. One of the top stories of camp so far has been Fortson, who has been turning heads with big catch after big catch. He discussed his recent success and what he believes have been the reasons behind it.
"To be honest with you, the only thing I did was take the advice of the great vets that we have on the team, from [wide receivers] Sammy [Watkins], Mecole [Hardman] and [Demarcus Robinson], then even [defensive tackle] Chris Jones and Tyrann on the defensive side," Fortson said. "I just took everything they gave me throughout last season and tried to implement it into this offseason protocol for myself. I just come out every day ready to attack and just get better."
Fortson went on to speak about Mathieu specifically and how the veteran safety has encouraged him to take the next step as a player.
"It's really a blessing. A lot of people don't really know this but in high school, I actually wore No. 7 because of Tyrann. He has been the best defensive player I've ever seen to be honest with you," Fortson said. "He's a great leader on and off the field. Every practice or before practice, in the locker room, I'm trying to take advice on how to be better. So, for him to kind of give me a shout out on Twitter to the world, it's – I don't even know how to describe it – it's extraordinary. I appreciate you Tyrann, if you're watching this. It's a blessing and I'm just excited."
The Chiefs will take a break from practice on Tuesday before returning to the field on Wednesday.