It was a busy couple of days at One Arrowhead Drive this week as General Manager Brett Veach, Head Coach Andy Reid and the rest of the football evaluation staff trimmed the Kansas City Chiefs' roster down to 53 total players in anticipation of the upcoming season.
In total, the Chiefs cut 22 players on Tuesday in order to comply with the league roster deadline. A full list of those moves can be found by clicking here. Many of those players, however, re-joined the organization on Wednesday as members of the practice squad, which can be found below.
The initial 53-man roster and a sizable portion of the practice squad now officially in place, Veach took a moment on Wednesday to speak to the media about Kansas City's moves.
Here's what stood out from the presser.
1. Veach began by reflecting on another successful training camp in St. Joseph.
"We had a great camp and a great [time] in St. Joe. In fact, Coach and I were talking a few days ago about the level of focus and dedication from this group. It was certainly an outstanding group to work with," Veach said. "As a whole, this was one of the better groups that we've [had]."
This year's camp featured 17 total practices – including 10 padded practices – at Missouri Western State University in preparation for 2022 campaign. A thorough accounting of every training camp practice can be found by clicking here.
2. Nine of the Chiefs' 10 draftees made the initial 53-man roster, marking a major success for the player evaluation staff. Veach discussed the Chiefs' talented rookie class and what made this group special during the offseason training program.
"I think the thing that surprised us the most with this group was how quickly they were able to get up to speed. Usually, rookies will be on different timelines in regard to how quickly they can help us. This group, as a whole, has shown that they're able to come in here and the game isn't too big for them," Veach said. "[Additionally], the coaches have shown their ability to put trust in them…It's surprising to have such a big class and for the majority of them – if not all of them – to show that they're ready to go."
That class of rookies includes cornerback Trent McDuffie, defensive end George Karlaftis, wide receiver Skyy Moore, safety Bryan Cook, linebacker Leo Chenal, cornerback Joshua Williams, offensive lineman Darian Kinnard, cornerback Jaylen Watson and tailback Isiah Pacheco. Only the Chiefs' final selection – defensive back Nazeeh Johnson – missed the cut on Tuesday, but it's worth pointing out that Johnson was signed to the practice squad the following day. Overall, all 10 of the Chiefs' draftees remain with the organization heading into this season.
In terms of their collective growth, Veach added that there is still quite a bit of work to be done in regard to the progression of the rookie class, but he likes where they currently are.
3. One notable roster move on Tuesday was the decision to keep three quarterbacks. Veach explained the decision during Wednesday's media session.
"We strive to keep the best players on the team. We've been very fortunate to have [quarterback] Chad Henne here the last few years, and he's been outstanding to have – both on the field and in the classroom," Veach explained. "Last year, bringing [quarterback] Shane [Buechele] in here, we just continue to see the growth and development in him. We like that room. There's a great chemistry with all three of those guys. We always tell the guys that once they're here, we like to put the decision in their hands. Shane was one of those guys who played well and earned a spot on this roster."
Indeed, Buechele earned his place on the roster with an impressive preseason. The second-year quarterback completed 31-of-51 passes for 335 yards and three touchdowns in three preseason games, including a performance in the preseason finale that included a passer rating of 135.9.
4. In terms of the roster math, the Chiefs chose to keep five receivers as opposed to six, which was the precedent at that position in each of the last two years. Veach explained that the decision to keep just five receivers was rooted in both the flexibility to utilize the practice squad and in his desire to keep a surplus of defensive ends on the roster.
"We went back and forth [on that]. Sometimes, there's that game within the game, which is knowing how the waiver wire works, knowing the trends of claims and knowing where we've been exposed over the years. I think that defensive end is one position where we always accumulate injuries for some reason. We're always a little short at that position. We have a couple older, veteran guys at that position as well, so we [decided] to go heavy there. Then, to have the opportunity to have guys like [wide receiver] Daurice [Fountain] ready to go and to put them on the practice squad [is a huge benefit]…I think it worked out in that regard."
The Chiefs' five receivers currently on the roster are Mecole Hardman, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Skyy Moore and Justin Watson. The practice squad, meanwhile, includes the aforementioned Daurice Fountain – who appeared in two games last season – and second-year receiver Cornell Powell.
The six defensive ends the Chiefs elected to keep on the roster are Frank Clark, Carlos Dunlap, George Karlaftis, Mike Danna, Joshua Kaindoh and Malik Herring.
5. Lastly, Veach discussed his satisfaction with the Chiefs' initial practice squad signings.
The practice squad can consist of 16 total players this season, including six players with no limit on their experience. It's a major development that was originally implemented in previous seasons because of the pandemic, but due to the popularity of this format around the league, it's now back for the 2022 campaign.
"I think from an injury protection standpoint and from a youth development standpoint, it's been a blessing," Veach said of the expanded practice squad. "It's not just [having] 16 players, but it's also the ability to elevate these players twice [each] throughout the season."
As of Wednesday afternoon, the Chiefs had officially signed 14 players to their initial practice squad: defensive back Zayne Anderson, offensive lineman Mike Caliendo, linebacker Jack Cochrane, running back Jerrion Ealy, wide receiver Daurice Fountain, tight end Jordan Franks, defensive back Nazeeh Johnson, defensive end Azur Kamara, linebacker Elijah Lee, quarterback Chris Oladokun, wide receiver Cornell Powell, center Austin Reiter, defensive tackle Danny Shelton and defensive tackle Taylor Stallworth.
Veach spoke about his excitement to bring each of those players back during his media session.
"It's difficult, because you always have to hold your breath whenever you expose guys to waivers, but I think that some of the guys who we were having hard debates about [keeping on the roster], we were able to get those guys back on the practice squad," Veach said. "The way it worked out this year, I think we were very fortunate."
The Chiefs will now enjoy some time away from the facility before things kick into high gear next week in preparation for the season-opener against Arizona.