Quarterbacks, rookies and select injured members of the Kansas City Chiefs took the field at training camp on Thursday in preparation for the rest of the roster’s arrival on Friday.
Following practice, tight end Blake Bell, defensive tackle Khalen Saunders and tailback Darwin Thompson met with the media to discuss their progress at camp so far.
Here’s what stood out.
1. Bell kicked things off by reviewing his first couple of days at camp.
“It’s going well. Just getting in and having a few extra days to learn the offense and things like that,” Bell said. “It’s great to have Travis [Kelce] out here and learning from him and having him throw his two cents in details, routes and just the offense. It has been a good two days.”
Bell, who earned the nickname “The Belldozer” as a dual-threat quarterback at the University of Oklahoma during his college days, is entering his fifth season as a professional after originally entering the league as a fourth-round pick in 2015.
The six-foot-six, 252-pound Bell has tallied 30 catches and 357 yards across his 50-game career. He ranked 11th among all tight ends in terms of pass-blocking last season according to Pro Football Focus.
And while this marks Bell’s first season with the Chiefs, he’s no stranger to the red and gold. In fact, Bell’s uncle, Mike Bell, owns the fifth-most sacks in franchise history.
“He’s told me it’s just a great organization and a great place to be,” Bell said. “He has a lot of stories and things like that for me, and hopefully through this camp, I’ll get to see him here and we’ll experience it a little more.”
2. Saunders, meanwhile, talked about what he’s learned during his first few months in the NFL.
"There is a professional way to do everything. That is what I've learned since I've been here,” Saunders explained. “The oldest guy on our defense, I think, is Tyrann [Mathieu]. He's what, 27? That just shows you right there that it's a young group. I mean, he's 27, I'm about to be 23 on Aug. 9, so that's four years apart and he has that much more experience. Not just him, but everybody, they just teach me a lot of things every day as far as coming in and getting ready to work, how you prepare to get ready to work and things of that nature."
3. Saunders also praised new run game coordinator / defensive line coach Brendan Daly for his work so far.
"Even when the veterans were [at Organized Team Activities and Minicamp], he helps. That's his style. He's very interactive no matter who it is,” Saunders said. “No matter if it’s an undrafted [player], a first-round [pick] or whatever, he is going to take that time for attention to detail for you. He details everything for you, regardless who is up. He wants you to do it right. At the end of the day, that’s the sign of a coach that cares: he wants everyone to do it right, not just the guys that he potentially will keep. He's coaching everybody the same. I love it."
Daly joined the Chiefs’ coaching staff this offseason after serving as the New England Patriots’ defensive line coach from 2015-18.
4. Rounding out Thursday’s media availability was Thompson, who demonstrated a relentless running style during his time in college.
Thompson rushed for 1,044 yards and 14 scores last season at Utah State – averaging 6.8 yards per attempt – while forcing 48 missed tackles according to Pro Football Focus.
The five-foot-eight, 200-pound Thompson discussed the mentality required to produce those numbers on Thursday.
“I have to make up for my size somewhere, and that’s the weight room,” Thompson said. “Every day, I spend time in the weight room knowing that I’m only five-foot-eight. I have to build my base, my core and my strength – and that shows on the field. Things like my contact balance – that shows up because of the weight room.”
5. That work has certainly paid off so far, and now with the opportunity of a lifetime, Thompson isn’t taking anything for granted.
“It’s everything I’ve worked for. Nothing before this really matters now, this is just the beginning. This is the beginning of the journey,” Thompson said. “It’s a new identity I can create. They’re only going to remember me now from what I did in the NFL, not so much of what I did in college. I only played one year of D-1 football. My name before this really didn’t mean anything. I get the chance now to prove myself and my worth at this level.”
Veterans report to St. Joseph on Friday ahead of training camp’s first public practice on Saturday at 3:30. Click here to learn more about the training camp schedule.