Camp Notebook: Chiefs Aiming to Return Camp Atmosphere Beyond “Back to Normal”

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — The seats in the Hall of Fame Room at Spratt Stadium were spaced six feet apart but otherwise Chiefs president Mark Donovan’s press conference officially opening the club’s 2022 training camp highlighted all the reasons why fans should expect a traditional experience after two seasons imacted by COVID-19.

“We keep saying, ‘back to normal,” Donovan said. “The reality is it’s going to be more exciting than it’s ever been.”

There are a total of 17 total practices sessions open to fans with two of the practices reserved for the club’s season ticket members. Donovan said demand for tickets and interest in this year’s camp is “through the roof.”

As part of the club’s goal to return training camp back to normal, autograph sessions are returning after a two-year absence. Among other changes for this year’s camp includes an expanded merchandise store and concessions provided by Hy-Vee. The club will also be hosting youth flag football events at camp as an opportunity to help grow the game, Donovan added.

More from Donovan

World Cup impact: Arrowhead Stadium will require renovations for hosting World Cup games in 2026 but Donovan said the club aims to avoid disrupting seating for Chiefs games. The current plan calls for construction in early 2025 to set the stage for accomating the larger soccer dimensions. Seats will be reinstalled for the 2025 season, then removed for the World Cup and reinstalled for the 2026 season.

2023 NFL Draft: Donovan said NFL officials visited Kansas City last week in preparation for the 2023 NFL Draft, which he claims will be the largest event the city has ever hosted. He added that the organization’s goal is to shine a light on Kansas City during the draft. “It is a city-wide event, it’s an NFL event, it’s not a Chiefs event, but we’re going to give it a lot of Chiefs flare.”

Alternate Helmets: The NFL unveiled alternative helmets and throwback helmets for 13 teams on Monday. The Chiefs weren’t among them, and other than wearing a Dallas Texans throwback helmet in 2009 and introducing a red-on-red option in 2013, the Chiefs have never ventured into the alternate uniform universe or made significant alterations. Donovan said “there’s definitely more of a consideration than there’s ever been.” But he also added: “I don’t want to create hope where there isn’t hope.” Chances of Chiefs joining the alternate helmet craze: prognosis negative.

Future of Training Camp in St. Joseph: A total of 25 NFL teams are staying at their home facilities for training this year, making the Chiefs a shrinking minority when it comes to going away for camp. The club and Missouri Western reached an agreement for training camp on campus through 2022 with an option to extend the partnership through 2024. Donovan said the club will meet with university officials down the road to discuss the future “but it’s been a great opportunity, it’s been great to be here. Our head coach loves getting away, our players like it.”

Notes & Observations

The Chiefs finished up their three-day minicamp Monday morning with a 94-minute practice indoors due to rain in St. Joseph. Veteran players had the day off, so there was no Patrick Mahomes, Chad Henn or Jody Fortson but all of the team’s rookies and first-year players were in attendance.

This practice — and the entire minicamp — served as a final tune-up for the younger players to adjust themselve to the NFL practice schedule. It was evident the rookies were picking up the expectations quickly — the number of mistakes certainly went down throughout the camp.

The move indoors also provided an unusual glimpse into special teams work. The rookies faced off against each other on punt teams on the line of scrimmage, not from a gunner position on the outside. Each player received reps as a rusher and blocker on punt teams.

Transaction report

The Chiefs made a handful of roster moves on Monday, including signing free-agent offensive linemen Evin Ksiezarcyk and David Steinmetz while placing wide receiver Justyn Ross on injured reserve.

The Chiefs’ roster currently stands at 90 players. That number includes three players placed on the physically unable to perform list: cornerback Rashad Fenton (shoulder), right tackle Lucas Niang (knee) and offensive tackle Prince Tega Wanogho (leg).

That number does not include left tackle Orlando Brown Jr., who has yet to sign his franchise tender offer. He will not count toward any roster limits until he signs his contract. The Chiefs must account for Brown’s franchise tag offer of $16.662 million toward the salary cap.

Humphrey gearing up for challenge

Between earning All-Rookie honors and grading out as the No. 1 center in the league by Pro Football Focus, Creed Humphrey put himself on the radar around the league last season. Entering year two, Humphrey won’t be catching opposing defenders or defensive coordinators by surprise, which means he should have a target on his back each and every week.

“I’m excited for it,” Humprhrey said. “You play this game for competition. If you’re not ready for competition then you’re not ready to play this game.”

What’s more, Humphrey feels better prepared entering this season with his growth a year ago, the continuity with his teammates and the work he put in during the offseason.

“I’ve done a lot of stuff as far as technique work, physicality standpoint, getting my body right, making sure I’m ready to go on all cylinders whenever we start practicing.”

The goal, Humphrey said, is for the Chiefs’ offensive line to be known “as one of the most physically dominating lines in the league.”

“We have the pieces, we have the guys that can do it, so really that’s our whole outlook is just being physical, the physicality will show through and make teams know when they’re playing us that they’re going to be playing a physical offensive line that finishes through the whistle, finishes plays and things like that and we’re excited to get to work on it,” he said.

Bolton ready for leadership role

With the departure of Anthony Hitchens, the Chiefs defensive is putting its faith in secondy-year defender Nick Bolton as not only the leader of the team’s linebacker group but also as the quarterback of the defense, calling plays on the field and making sure assignments are correct.

The new leadership role means fans might see a different Bolton on the field in 2022 than during this rookie season.

“I more so lead by example,” Bolton explained. “I’m a vocal guy now, probably wasn’t last year, so lead by example is kind of what I pride myself on. I come every single day and put my best foot forward. Got to go out there and execute the scheme and be vocal within the scheme and just doing my job to the best of my abilities.

“I feel like that’s how I got to this point so I’m going to continue to do that. I feel like that’s what our team needs the most.”

Bolton racked up a team-best 112 total tackles including 11 for a loss in 2021. It’s not gaudy statistics, however, that Bolton has his eyes set upon this year: he wants a Super Bowl ring.

“We fell short last year and so in order for me to feel like I had a successful season, got to get back to where we were last year and execute in that game,” Bolton said. “We got the chance to play in the next game but that starts when we get there today just going to continue to work on it all the way until we get down to the season.”

What’s next?

Veteran players have until 10 p.m. Monday night to report to training camp for tomorrow’s first day of work, which will consist of team meetings, physical examinations and classroom instruction. The first day of camp is an acclimation day with no on-the-field football work.

Training camp officially opens to the public Wednesday morning with practice at 9:15 a.m. Tickets are free but are only available to the team’s season ticket members.

If you’re planning to attend training camp, remember that all tickets are digital and must be reserved online at the team’s website. Admission to most practices are free but the university collects a $5 parking free for each vehicle.