ST JOSEPH, Mo. — With temperatures soaring into the 80s and a heat index in the mid-90s, sweat dripped down the face of Chiefs rookie center Creed Humphrey. With the offense in the midst of a drive designed to test mental and physical limits, Humphrey had one simple message on his mind.
“Don’t really let anything else distract you,” Humphrey said. “Don’t let the heat distract you, anything like that. Just take it one play at a time and just attack every play.”
That’s the mentality required during long drive drills when head coach Andy Reid and his staff challenge their first-team units to the brink. Nothing stopped Monday’s 16-play, 12-minute drive that started at the offense’s 1-yard line. If the offense didn’t convert a third down, the marker went back to first down and they started all over again.
As offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy says, “it takes uncommon men and uncommon people to do what we do.”
“Because common folks, outside of this pool of what we do, it’s easy to tap out and it’s easy to give in,” Bieniemy said. “We have to find a way to dig into our core to help us show that regardless of how physically or mentally tired I am, I got to find a way to strain to finish for the next play. And that’s all that matters.”
Receiver Mecole Hardman says it’s the kind of day you have to push through.
“When it’s hot these are the days you want to be out there because it’s the kind of the test and see where you’re at,” Hardman said. “You don’t look forward to it but it’s days when it’s time to work today and it’s going to be a working day.”
Bieniemy believes there’s a connection between Monday’s long-drive drill and winning a Super Bowl.
“If we can learn how to do that together, we’re going to have an opportunity to accomplish a lot of great things,” Bieniemy said. “That’s what I appreciate about today and days like this because more than anything, it ain’t necessarily about how many points you score.
“You want to find out who’s all in.”
You might have heard the Chiefs offense didn’t fare well during Monday’s practice, and there’s a good reason why. Monday was an unwinnable scenario for the offense.
Monday’s practice was largely a 2-hour, 9-minute test of resilience of the Kansas City offense. Not only did the offense endure the long-drive drill, it encountered a series of scenarios designed to put its back against the wall.
After the usual conditioning, individual drills and an installation period, the squad went into the team blitz, 10 plays where the defensive came after the offense hard.
After additional individual drills, a nine-on-seven period challenged the offense’s ability to run between the tackles. Bieniemy’s voice cracked through loud and clear excoriating his offensive line to clear holes for the running backs.
The next full team period put the offense in another challenging scenario: 25 seconds on the clock, third-and-7 on the opposing team’s 15-yard line and needing a touchdown. Only the No. 2 offense came out with a win.
After special teams focused on punt coverage, the offensive and defensive lines took part in one-on-one drills while the rest of the squad took part in seven-on-seven. After that followed the dreaded long-drive period and special teams work on punt returns.
Notes and Observations
- The tough day for the offense started during the initial team blitz period Chris Jones wrecking into the backfield on the first two snaps.
- Patrick Mahomes made a Mahomesian play early when he scrambled to his right to avoid pressure and then sling a sidearm fastball that seemingly bent around safety Tyrann Mathieu before landing in the hands of Mecole Hardman.
- During the red zone period, the No. 1 defense picked up a stop after a drop by Travis Kelce and Mahomes was unable to connect with Demarcus Robinson in the end zone on fourth down.
- Wide receiver Marcus Kemp continued his strong camp with his second red zone touchdown in as many days. He was ruled out of bounds just short of the end zone on a third-down throw from Chad Henne. Two plays later the duo connected again with Kemp making a sliding grab in the end zone for the score.
- The usually suspects are in the race for multiple positions on special teams, including Kemp and Byron Pringle as gunners on the first team. In addition to Ben Niemann, Armani Watts and Dorian O’Daniel leading the way in core special teams roles, free-agent addition Michael Burton will be a four-phase player as will rookie linebacker Nick Bolton, depending upon his workload on defense.
- Mecole Hardman appears to have the role as lead punt returner secured with the only competition from Blue Springs native Darrius Shepherd. Shepherd’s best shot at making the 53 is as a return specialist, as noted by coordinator Dave Toub.
- Defensive end Mike Danna has shown good burst and technique rushing off the edge, and that showed again on Monday during one-on-one matchups.
- The long drive period for the No. 1 offense and defense didn’t produce many highlights, particularly for the offense. Demarcus Robinson, Hardman and Pringle each had nice catches.
Offensive play of the day: The best catch of the day came during seven-on-seven work when Daurice Fountain made a one-handed catch on a deep ball from Chad Henne down the left sideline. Fountain has impressed since arriving on a tryout basis at rookie minicamp in May and is worth keeping an eye on during the preseason games.
Defensive play of the day: Cornerback BoPete Keyes took advantage of a communication breakdown against the No. 3 offense, bursting out of nowhere to intercept a pass from Shane Buechele. Keyes is making a strong bid to win one of the final spots at cornerback in the secondary.
Player of the day: Not even sure if Mahomes spent more time in the offensive backfield Monday than Chris Jones did. Playing primarily on the outside, Jones picked up at least a couple of training camp sacks and brought pressure on several other snaps as well. Jones is excelling thus far in his transition to edge rusher.
Defensive end Joshua Kaindoh left practice a few minutes early Monday due to a hamstring injury. He briefly visited the medical tent before walking up the hill back to the locker room.
Linebacker Willie Gay worked on the sidelines again during Monday’s practice as he works his way through the league’s concussion protocol. It remains unlikely Gay steps onto the field until after the team’s preseason game this Saturday against San Francisco.
Running back Darrel Williams (knee) was added to the injury list on Monday. He worked on the sidelines wearing a compression sleeve on his right leg. Also not practicing Monday but in attendance were defensive end Alex Okafor (hamstring), tight end Evan Baylis (ankle) and offensive linemen Mike Remmers (back) and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (hand).
Receiver Antonio Callaway (bone bruise) did not appear at practice nor did guard/center Darryl Williams, who is on the COVID-19 reserve list. The Chiefs suited up just 12 offensive linemen for practice Monday
Offensive lineman Kyle Long remains on the physically unable to perform list while defensive end Malik Herring is on the non-football injury list.
Well I don’t know if I can say that message right now. (laugh) At the end of the day, these are the days that help to develop championship teams. It’s hot, we’re tired, we’ve been beating up on each other for the past few weeks or whatever. But these are the days that you look back upon that help to define the character of the team. It don’t always have to be perfect. Yes, we want to continue to strive for that perfection but these are the days we’ve got to learn how to play together and learn how to drag our ass across that finish line together, and that’s all what matters. That’s why I appreciate being out here and having these opportunities to come and do this in training camp because these are the days that help define those moments that build success later on in the season.— Offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy on the gist of his message to his offensive line during Monday’s practice
It’s a helmet and shells practice kicking off at 9:15 a.m. on Tuesday in St. Joseph open exclusively to the club’s season ticket members. The Chiefs have an off day on Wednesday before returning for a planned padded practice Thursday, their last workout before heading to San Francisco for their opening preseason game on Saturday night.
Tickets for most training camp practices are free but fans must reserve tickets online in advance. That includes Tuesday’s season ticket member event.