The Kansas City Chiefs' quarterbacks, rookies and select veterans returning from injuries took the field for the first practice of training camp on Saturday morning, officially kicking off the Chiefs' preparation for the 2022 campaign.
"It was good to get the guys back out here, and I think they did a nice job," said Head Coach Andy Reid. "We have short lines, so we slowed it down for them and got some quality reps in. [It was hot], but they pushed through it and did a nice job."
These practices are relatively abbreviated compared to the full team workouts that will begin next week, but despite only featuring around 30 attendees, the Chiefs were still able to run through a somewhat normal practice period on Saturday. It included positional drills, installs and multiple 7-on-7 periods over the course of about two hours, providing several players with a chance to impress.
Tight end Jody Fortson, in particular, had a strong practice. The veteran pass-catcher, who tore his Achilles tendon last season, caught three touchdowns during red zone 7-on-7 drills.
"Jody looked good out here. He knocked that rust off – that 'worry' about the leg – during [offseason practices]," Reid said. "He was able to come out here and function, and I thought he looked sharp."
Several rookie players turned in strong performances, too, including wide receiver Skyy Moore. The No. 54 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, Moore – who dealt with a hamstring injury during offseason practices – turned in a productive first day in St. Joseph with several catches on a variety of routes.
"He looked smooth and strong out here today," Reid said. "His leg looked like it healed up well. He has those big legs. They're different than most receivers, he has 'running back' legs. He looked smooth, and he also has big hands. He was catching it easy."
Another strong performer was rookie safety Bryan Cook, who forced a fumble during 7-on-7 drills.
"We always harp on punching the ball out as a defender, and I saw an opportunity and got my hand on the ball," Cook said. "[It's about] practicing good habits."
Cook, who the Chiefs selected with the No. 62 overall pick this year, made sure to embrace good conditioning habits prior to camp, too. His answer was simple when asked how he went about training over the last several weeks at home.
"Running," Cook said. "Running, running, running. That's pretty much it. There was obviously the mental part – the NFL is 90 percent mental, so I dove in the playbook – but [the running] was major during the offseason."
Cook lost track of the miles he ran during the Chiefs' month away from organized activities, seizing every chance he had to prepare for his first training camp as a professional.
"Whether it was track workouts, gassers or jogging around the neighborhood, I was just trying to make sure my body was in the best shape it could be," Cook said. "I know it's a little different out here – we're actually playing football now – but I wanted to give myself the best opportunity to be ready."
That combination of physical and mental preparation was critical for the Chiefs' rookie class, as no time is wasted during a training camp under Coach Reid. In fact, these early practices are designed in order to give Kansas City's rookies a quick refresher so that they can hit the ground running when the veterans arrive next week.
Fortunately, Reid was pleased with how the rookie class seemed to retain the information that they learned during offseason practices in May and June.
"I thought retention was good. This also gives them one more time to go through it, and we'll go through it again when the vets get here," Reid said. "It gives them a little bit of a jump-start where it's slowed down – there are lots of meetings and there's coaching [going on]. It's a review, so when the veterans get here, they won't have to think quite as much during those first few days of camp."
Saturday only marked the first day of organized activities for this year's group of rookies, but at least so far, things appear to be off to a great start.
In terms of injuries, offensive tackle Prince Tega Wanogho (leg) and defensive lineman Kehinde Oginni Hassan (awaiting a blood test) didn't practice, per Coach Reid. Additionally, linebacker Leo Chenal left practice early due to the heat. Cornerback Rashad Fenton (shoulder), offensive tackle Lucas Niang (knee) and wide receiver Justyn Ross (foot) also didn't participate, as expected.
The Chiefs will continue with these "introductory" practices on Sunday and Monday before the rest of the team takes the field for the first full practice on Wednesday.