The "real" football got underway at training camp on Tuesday morning as the Kansas City Chiefs donned the pads for the first time since Super Bowl LV in preparation for the upcoming campaign.
This was technically the sixth day of activities up in St. Joseph, but the prior five practices were of the lighter variety and focused more on cultivating a thorough understanding of the playbook while gradually ramping up the athletic activity taking place.
The progress made during those practices and the offseason training program was put to the test on Tuesday, however, as the team suited up for the first of nine padded practices at camp.
"It was a great first day. It was good to get the guys in pads and I thought that they worked hard," said Head Coach Andy Reid. "It was all thud periods today – there were no live periods – but I thought their effort was where it needed to be, and they challenged each other."
The concept of a "thud" period means that the players were competing at a game-tempo but weren't tackling to the ground. It was an opportunity for the players to finally show off their physicality after weeks of just practicing in jerseys and shorts.
"The first day is always fun. Whenever we're out here in just jerseys, that's not football. Some guys can't show unless they're physical," said defensive end Alex Okafor. "Physicality is part of the game, and you can't do that without pads on."
That physicality is particularly important up front, where the Chiefs' remade offensive line – which features numerous new faces this season – worked alongside one another in pads for the first time as teammates on Tuesday. The session included work in a variety of areas, from blocking in space on screen passes to run-blocking.
"Those guys are doing a good job up front. They're still learning, but they're picking up everything fast and we're moving really well as an offense right now," said tailback Darrel Williams. "We just need to keep building, and that's why we have training camp."
The first day in pads also meant one-on-one drills between the offensive and defensive lines, which is often one of the most entertaining activities to watch at camp.
"I liked the competition [there]," Reid said. "They're working and they're trying to get better at what they're doing. They're working their fundamentals and techniques when it's live, and I appreciate that. That was good work there."
Kansas City Chiefs at training camp.
Those kinds of drills date back to the earliest days of organized football and can provide insights in the film room after practice.
"[You can go back and] see your steps, your craftiness and how you can get free," said defensive tackle Tershawn Wharton. "I try not to let people touch me, so I'm trying to see how I can get free more and get to the quarterback faster on the inside."
This marked the first of four-straight padded practices at training camp as things kick into high gear, and after months of gradual preparation throughout the offseason, the Chiefs got back to playing some real football on Tuesday.
"I think the pads were talking today," Wharton said. "They were talking today."