The Kansas City Chiefs wrapped up Organized Team Activities (OTAs) on Thursday, completing the three-week voluntary practice period ahead of mandatory minicamp kicking off next week.
Head Coach Andy Reid, quarterback Patrick Mahomes, safety Tyrann Mathieu, tailback Damien Williams and wide receiver Mecole Hardman all met with the media following practice, providing a glimpse into how the Chiefs’ offseason program has been going so far.
Here are five things that stood out.
1. Reid kicked things off by praising the energy up and down the roster throughout OTAs.
"All in all, it’s been a good camp. It’s been as competitive as you can be in shorts, but the guys are working hard, challenging each other and getting better on both sides of the ball,” Reid said. “We're getting the young guys a lot of reps, which is important. We’re running three groups, and all three are having a chance here to show [what they can do]. They’re doing a nice job of learning and staying up on things."
OTAs – which began back on May 21 – mark the beginning of Phase II of the offseason, which doesn’t permit live contact in practice but does allow for 7-on-7, 9-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills to take place between the offense and defense.
The guys aren’t in pads, but as Reid said, the competition has been strong.
“That’s how you get better. They’re challenging each other as much as you can here. They’re challenging each other within the rules of Phase III and doing a good job with it,” Reid said. “You create a couple different competitive situations. You do it by bringing in players at your position that can compete against one another, but then eventually you have to go against another person. That’s the name of the game here. So, you get in there and you have great quality on both sides and [General Manager Brett Veach] has done a nice job bringing in guys that are good football players, that want to be better and are liking being a Chief and feeling that team part. They’re challenging each other.”
2. Mahomes was asked to discuss the play of the Chiefs’ younger players – notably the rookies – and how they’re coming along on offense.
“I think they’re doing well,” Mahomes said. “They’re really competing, they’re going out there and they’ve realized the speed at which we practice. It’s different. We practice fast the whole time. We’re really competing. I think those guys have really learned a ton in the short amount of time that they’ve been here. I’m excited for them to finish out this week, finish out minicamp and be ready for training camp ahead.”
Of course, at 23-years-old, Mahomes is still pretty young himself. It wasn’t too long ago that the reigning NFL MVP was learning the ropes at OTAs, so he knows a thing or two about this process.
3. Damien Williams, meanwhile, spoke about being a starter headed into the season for the first time in his career.
“It’s something that you really have to work hard for,” Williams said. “I came in undrafted [in 2014], so a lot of teams already have their main guy. It’s just [about] keeping your head up, fighting, and moving forward.”
Williams certainly did just that for Kansas City in 2018.
Over the final six games of the campaign (including the postseason), Williams tallied 602 yards of total offense and scored 10 touchdowns. For context, only the Los Angeles Rams’ Todd Gurley scored more times during any six-game span in 2018.
And he’ll look to carry that momentum into next season alongside an intriguing room of tailbacks, each of which brings a variety of skills to the field while adding competition at the position.
“Each and every year, you know there will be competition. They brought in Carlos [Hyde], Darrel [Williams] has been here, and they drafted Darwin [Thompson],” Williams said. “At the end of the day, you know you want to compete, [but] you still want to help each other out.”
4. On the other side of the ball, much has been made surrounding the intensity Mathieu and fellow newcomer Frank Clark have been bringing to the Chiefs’ defense during practice. Mathieu was asked about his energy and what kind of collective identity he wants to establish defensively.
“It’s really trying to build a defense with an attitude. I think any time you can have 10 or 11 guys with a chip on their shoulder, with an edge, a certain kind of presence, a certain kind of attitude and a certain kind of swagger, you can create a collective identity and I think that’s really what we’re trying to do,” Mathieu explained. “We’re definitely not trying to do anything outside of our characteristics. I think all of us - both [Frank and I] - wake up each and every day and we live that way - just with an attitude and a chip on our shoulder, and like I said, it can rub off on the guys around you.”
5. Finally, Hardman spoke about the relationship he’s building with Mahomes on the field.
“I’m still learning from him - learning how he throws balls, learning where he wants me to be and where I need to be,” Hardman said. “I’d say the chemistry is growing and I’m getting comfortable every day with running my routes. Eventually, we’ll get it down and we’ll get it where we need to be.”