KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Unlike past offseason workouts, the shuffling of personnel groupings on the Chiefs offensive line in 2016 has been minimal and focused largely at left guard.
Zach Fulton began organized team activities (OTAs) at left guard with the starting unit before giving way to rookie Parker Ehinger on Day Four of OTAs.
Since then, Ehinger, a fourth-round pick, has been a mainstay with the starting unit and finished the three-day minicamp at left guard, giving him 10 total practices with the first team.
And outside of Fulton filling in at right guard for Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, who missed minicamp with an illness, the first-team offensive line has seen Eric Fisher at left tackle, Ehinger, Mitch Morse at center, Duvernay-Tardif at right guard and Mitchell Schwartz at right tackle.
So, is that the five players to start off training camp?
“I think I feel pretty good about it,” coach Andy Reid said. “Again, let’s see them hit and bang around a little bit, see how they do in game, but I think we have a nucleus there that’s good.”
Meanwhile, Reid’s confidence of the offensive line extends to the second-team unit, which has seen Fulton at guard and center, Zach Sterup at left tackle, Jarrod Pughsley at both guard positions, Drew Nowak at center and guard and Jah Reid at tackle and guard.
“I’d even stretch it right into the two-deep,” Reid said. “I’m feeling pretty good about that, and then we’ll see about the other guys as we go.”
BACKUP QB BATTLE REMAINS WIDE OPEN
While Aaron Murray saw some snaps as the No. 2 quarterback during OTAs, for the most part it has been Tyler Bray doing the heavy lifting with the second-team offense.
Reid was pleased with the effort from Bray and Murray, and rookie Kevin Hogan, who has worked as the No. 4 quarterback.
“I liked what I saw,” Reid said. “I think Tyler and Aaron really worked hard and have learned from the last year or two or three and it shows. I thought they really did some good, quality snaps.
“And then Kevin came in and I thought did a heck of a job for not having been in the offense. I thought he was very productive.”
Reid said the next step in the evaluation process for the trio arrives in training camp and preseason action when the pads are on.
More importantly, the head coach prefers to hold off on making a final decision on Alex Smith’s primary backup until he sees how Bray, Murray and Hogan react to a live pass rush.
“They’re not going to get that in training camp – there’s going to be a live rush, but they won’t be live,” Reid said. “Let’s see how they do during games. It’s wide open, wide open competition.”
CHARLES RESTS, KELCE RETURNS
Running back Jamaal Charles (knee) wasn’t on the practice field on the final day of minicamp after putting in work the previous two days.
But his absence isn’t cause for alarm.
“He’s doing good,” Reid said. “We gave him the two days and then we backed off. We thought that was a positive thing.”
Tight end Travis Kelce, who missed the past two days with an illness, returned to the field Thursday and appeared to practice without limitations.
COOK UNDERGOES SURGERY
Reid said wide receiver Kenny Cook underwent surgery Thursday to repair a torn quadriceps, which Cook suffered during Tuesday’s practice.
“We’ll just see how he does with that,” Reid said.
FAMILIAR FACE TAKES IN PRACTICE
Dick Vermeil, who coached the Chiefs from 2001-05, attended Thursday’s practice and was observed during the stretching and warm-up session standing next to Reid on the sidelines.
“Listen, every time I’m around Coach, I learn something,” Reid said of Vermeil. “He’s been phenomenal in my career. We’ve kind of followed some of the same steps with Philly and here, California – being born in California and that whole deal. He’s a wealth of knowledge, man. I love the guy.”