Top 10 Takeaways from Chiefs Offseason Workouts

Here are 10 things that stood out about OTAs and minicamp

The Kansas City Chiefs finished up their offseason program last week with a three-day mandatory minicamp.

The team had been working out and practicing since mid-April but will now get a few weeks of rest and relaxation before they're set to report to the campus of Missouri Western State University for training camp at the end of July.

With a palpable amount of excitement surrounding a team that won their first playoff game in more than two decades last year and has now put together three-straight winning seasons to begin the John Dorsey-Andy Reid-led era in Kansas City, the work being done is in hopes of bringing home a championship in 2016.

That's every team's goal, but for the first time in a while, that accomplishment won't include the steppingstone of winning a playoff game first. That box has already been checked.

The goals have never seemed more attainable and the coaches and players have never been more focused or clear on their objective.

Through 10 OTA practices and minicamp last week, the team is in a great spot moving forward.

"I was pretty happy with how and what we got done," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said of the offseason program. "That's a tribute to the players and the coaches. They did a nice job coming out and working when they're supposed to work.

"Do we still have things that we need to get done at camp? Yeah, absolutely, but we made progress as a team, I felt, this offseason."

Here are 10 takeaways from the Chiefs offseason workouts:

Jamaal Charles Returns to the Field

While Charles didn't take any reps in team periods during any of the offseason workouts, the fact that he was back out on the field for two of the three days of minicamp going through individual workouts is a great sign for a team that is now absolutely loaded at the running back position.

OTATakeaways-IMage1.jpg

Charles is the best running back in franchise history, and he's also the NFL's all-time leader in yards per carry. He's a threat to score the ball any time he touches the football, and for a team that finished last season averaging 25.3 points per game, which ranked No. 9 in the NFL, Charles' presence will only help that number.

"We're optimistic by the two days, but let's not rush him," Reid said of Charles being on the field for part of minicamp. "We know what he's all about and let's get him back to where he feels good."

Despite playing in just 35 games over the past three seasons, Charles has scored 38 total touchdowns from scrimmage, which is more than any other player in the NFL during that period.

Total Touchdowns from Scrimmage (2013-15)

Rank

Player

Games

TDs

1

Jamaal Charles

35

38

2t

Marshawn Lynch

39

34

2t

Brandon Marshall

45

34

4

Dez Bryant

41

32

5t

Antonio Brown

48

31

5t

Demaryius Thomas

48

31

7

DeMarco Murray

45

30

8t

Matt Forte

45

29

8t

Calvin Johnson

43

29

8t

Eddie Lacy

46

29

8t

Julius Thomas

39

29

Battle for the backup quarterback job heats up

It has been and will continue to be one of the hottest storylines for the Chiefs this offseason.

Who will win the backup quarterback job?

OTATakeaways-IMage2.jpg

After a couple of months of offseason workouts during which fourth-year player Tyler Bray and third-year player Aaron Murray have both taken No. 2 reps, the battle will continue into training camp.

"I liked what I saw," Reid said of his young quarterbacks vying for the job during offseason workouts. "I think Tyler and Aaron really worked hard and have learned from the last few years. I thought they really did some good, quality snaps.

"And then (rookie fifth-round pick) Kevin (Hogan) came in and, I thought, did a heck of a job for not having been in the offense. I thought he was very productive."

Rookies flashing ability early in workouts

With a 2016 draft class that received straight As across the board from NFL.com's draft grades, the nine new Chiefs selected by Dorsey and his staff showed us why the experts were so high on the talent they brought in this year during offseason workouts.

It all starts with defensive lineman Chris Jones, who was the No. 37 overall pick and was the team's first selection this year after Dorsey decided to trade down out of the first round and acquire multiple picks, which turned out to be a great move for the Chiefs.

"He's nice," veteran Dontari Poe said of Jones. "He's real long and you can't teach that size, but he's willing to work and learn for it, so I like it."

Parker Ehinger, the first of the three fourth-round picks by the Chiefs this year, took reps at left guard with the first-team offense for much of OTAs and minicamp.

OTATakeaways-IMage3.jpg

"The starting five isn't decided in OTAs," Ehinger explained after practice one day. "We have a lot of football left to be played. Just going through this, it will kind of be a cool experience playing next to (Eric) Fisher, playing next to Mitch (Morse) – learning from some older guys.

"They've been good mentors to me."

Rookie defensive backs KeiVarae Russell and Eric Murray made plenty of plays during these practices, while receiver Tyreek Hill may have been the most impressive player during all of offseason workouts.

"It doesn't mean anything because [there are] no pads," Hill explained of making plays this time of the year. "Any fast guy can do it. Everybody reads articles on fast guys making plays. You just have to wait until camp and see what's up."

Tough decisions coming with deep and talented roster

Dorsey and his staff will have their hands full at training camp in being tasked with narrowing this roster down to just 53 players.

OTATakeaways-IMage4.jpg

While Dorsey does a good job in bringing in talented players and creating depth and competition at every position, the truth of the matter is that some very good football players won't make this roster but will find their way to other teams around the NFL.

It's a good problem to have and after watching these guys practice for the last few weeks—even if they are just in shorts—the level of talent is undeniable.

The excitement and expectations for this team are real.

LB Justin March becomes player to watch, again

March was one of the trendy names to watch during offseason workouts last year.

OTATakeaways-IMage5.jpg

All the way through training camp and up until the injury he suffered in the preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals ended his season, March was making plays when he had his chance on the field.

While he's not the tallest or most physically imposing linebacker on the roster at just 6 feet tall and 238 pounds, March had a knack for making plays and that has continued during offseason workouts this year.

With a positional group that includes incumbent starters Derrick Johnson and Josh Mauga, plus second-year players Ramik Wilson and D.J. Alexander, there's plenty of competition. March, the undrafted player out of Akron from a year ago, will be a fun player to watch for the second year in a row.

"I learned that sometimes we're not as focused or as hungry as we may think," March said of what he learned about himself going through offseason rehab on his knee. "Just going through that and being away from football and everything like that, it made me realize that there's still a lot of work I can do.

"Being in the film room, working on those little things of being in the NFL. Just working with film and everything like that, that made me better."

Young tight ends showing off athleticism

Everyone already knows about Travis Kelce, the Pro Bowl tight end who recently inked a multi-year extension to stay with the Chiefs for the foreseeable future. He had back-to-back seasons with at least 800 yards receiving and 5 touchdowns and is one of the NFL's blossoming young playmakers at the position.

With the development of the 6-foot-7, 230-pound Demetrius Harris, who also signed a multi-year contract extension this offseason, the tight end position will have plenty of athleticism to take advantage of next season.

A look at the tight ends during the Kansas City Chiefs offseason OTAs

RELATED:Chiefs QB Alex Smith Excited About Three-Tight End Set Opportunities

Marcus Peters is good at football

It's hardly breaking news, but the NFL's reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year is still really good at football.

OTATakeaways-IMage6.jpg

In case anyone was worried about Peters' ability to step up and make plays like he did as a rookie, the indications from offseason workouts are that it shouldn't be an issue.

Peters was all over the field during team periods, picking off multiple passes and making sure every ball thrown his direction was either broken up, or at worst, a tough, contested catch.

With veteran Sean Smith leaving in free agency, Peters is now in a position to take the three young defensive backs who were drafted this year and with veteran safeties Ron Parker and Eric Berry, help to lead that room.

Peters will be counted on for more than just his playmaking ability this year, and the overall success of the defense is reliant on both.

Steve Nelson earns nickel spot for now

Reid said at his last press conference that second-year player Steve Nelson has earned the starting nickelback position.

Nelson played in 12 games last season and logged just 53 defensive snaps, but the former third-round pick had been one of the standouts this year in offseason workouts, consistently finding himself around the ball and making plays in team periods.

OTATakeaways-IMage7.jpg

Last year, the nickel spot belonged to Philip Gaines, who was lost for the season in the Week 3 matchup against the Green Bay Packers with a torn ACL. After Gaines went down, Parker made the move from safety to nickel and played there for the remainder of the season. Reid also mentioned that Gaines will be the starter on the outside opposite of Peters when they head to camp as well.

With offenses going with three-wide sets more than 60 percent of the time right now, the third cornerback or safety is basically a starter at this point. A defense's nickel or dime personnel group should almost be considered the "base" defense now. While traditional depth charts don't reflect the changes in the game over the past several years with a primary focus on the passing game, or at least spreading defenses out to take advantage in the running game, the nickel position has never been more important.

It's definitely something to watch as we get into training camp.

Co-offensive coordinators transitioning smoothly into new roles

OTATakeaways-IMage8.jpg

With last year's offensive coordinator, Doug Pederson, having moved on to become the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, all eyes were on the new co-offensive coordinators, Brad Childress and Matt Nagy, during offseason workouts.

While Pederson was the one relaying the plays to the quarterbacks last year, that responsibility has now shifted to Nagy, who impressed Reid with how smooth of a transition that has been thus far.

"He's doing a good job," Reid said of Nagy. "Both he and (fellow co-offensive coordinator) Brad (Childress) are doing a good job. You see them feeding each other the plays and then [Nagy] puts them in and gives them to the quarterback, so I think that's a good situation and they work well together."

Nagy was the quarterbacks coach last year—a responsibility he still holds, while Childress worked as the spread game analyst and with special projects.

No wasted time at practice

One thing to watch during training camp is the lack of down time the players and coaches have during an Andy Reid-led practice.

There is very little wasted time, and this level of organization and attention to detail allows everyone to get every possible rep during their practice window. It's what we saw during each of the 10 OTA practices, as well as the three-day minicamp over the past couple of months.

It's often a little detail that gets overlooked during camp when fans are just trying to watch their favorite player make a big-time play, which is completely understandable. Although it's worth noting how little downtime the players have throughout the day.

The players won't condition after practices at camp because of the pace Reid has them go through during their normal practices.

Therefore, Reid's message to the team for the next several weeks largely centered on conditioning.

"I mentioned to the guys, especially these next five weeks that they have off, don't lose what you've gained here, conditioning-wise," he told them. "Make sure you come back in good shape so you give yourself a chance. The last thing you want to do is come into camp and be worried about your physical conditioning and not getting better as a football player.

"Start there, and then once we get into camp and you're tired and pushing through the fatigue, you have to discipline yourself through that period, because that's going to be January and February and that latter part of December. You're going to be feeling all those same aches and pains and fatigues – you have to make sure you push through that."

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content

Advertising