Five Things We Learned from Thursday’s Media Availability

The Kansas City Chiefs continued their preparation for this weekend’s matchup against the Oakland Raiders on Thursday with another edition of practice at One Arrowhead Drive.

Here’s a look at Thursday’s injury report:

Prior to practice, Assistant Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator Dave Toub, Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, Offensive Coordinator Eric Bieniemy and defensive end Frank Clark met with the media.

Here are five things that stood out from their pressers.

1. Toub explained how the game plan on special teams will be affected with wide receiver Tyreek Hill unavailable this week due to injury.

"It changes a little bit, obviously, because everybody moves up,” Toub said. “On offense, [wide receiver Mecole] Hardman is going to get a lot more. D-Rob [wide receiver Demarcus Robinson] is going to get a lot more offense. It puts pressure on other guys to step up. The good thing is, we get [wide receiver] De'Anthony [Thomas] back. He'll come in and he'll be a guy for me. He'll end up playing a bunch in the return game, as well as coverage."

Thomas - who was suspended for the season-opener - is a swiss army knife of sorts for Toub as a guy who can return kicks and play the gunner role in punt coverage.

2. Speaking of playmakers, Bieniemy was asked to explain what gives him confidence in Hardman – the Chiefs’ second-round pick in the 2019 Draft – on Sunday with Hill not out there.

“Since we’ve been here, we’ve always had the ‘next man up’ approach. We coach our starters to be starters, but we also coach our guys who are backing up those guys to be starters, too,” Bieniemy said. “It’s his job now to make sure we don’t lose anything with him being out there. He understands the responsibility and the accountability to his teammates, the people in that room and to Tyreek, as well. Our guys get that, they understand that, and they live on that. So, we’re looking forward to him getting out there and making the most of the opportunity he’s being presented with.”

Hardman was electric in college, tallying 59 catches for 950 yards and 11 touchdowns – averaging 16.9 yards per catch – over his final 29 games with the Georgia Bulldogs. With Hill out on Sunday, he’ll likely have his chance to show off those skills at the next level.

3. On defense, Spagnuolo provided his thoughts on how rookie safety Juan Thornhill looked in his first game action last week.

"I thought he tackled really well - I really did. That was encouraging,” Spagnuolo said. “There is always a learning curve with a rookie, but for the most part, I thought he did a nice job."

Spagnuolo went on to explain the decision to start Thornhill – who led Kansas City with eight tackles on Sunday – over fellow safety Dan Sorensen in the game while emphasizing that the team still values the veteran defensive back’s contributions.

"A lot of different things go into that. I visited with Dan, and he’s a great team player,” Spagnuolo said. “He plays on a lot of special teams and there are a lot of reps there…I thought Juan did a good job during training camp and earned the starting spot, but we're going to need all of those guys - all of the safeties - back there."

4. Elsewhere on defense, Clark evaluated his first outing in the red and gold.

“It was alright. I feel like it’s finally over with - there was a lot of anticipation from myself and from everybody else, my family, just a lot of people,” Clark said. “I feel like now you can get to that point where you can kind of just play football - myself personally - which I love to do.”

Clark – one of the Chiefs’ marquee additions this offseason – notched an interception in his first action with Kansas City on Sunday.

5. And with the Raiders now on deck, Clark shared his thoughts on the Chiefs’ matchup with their classic rival.

“I feel like you have a revamped Raiders team over there in Oakland that played excellent ball last week against Denver…[Quarterback] Derek Carr did some great things out there,” Clark said. “They have a young, rookie running back, [Josh Jacobs], who ran the ball pretty tough...They have some good talent over there. They got big [offensive lineman] Trent Brown this offseason on the offensive line to help anchor that right side for Derek. They’re just playing good ball right now at the beginning of the season.”

Clark will have his shot at Carr, Jacobs and Brown in just a few days.

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