One day after struggling in the rain against the No. 1 defense, quarterback Patrick Mahomes bounced back with an impressive performance against the second-team defense in ideal conditions, unofficially finishing 18-of-20 passing with a couple of deep touchdowns.
Only two missed connections kept Mahomes from a perfect outing. He sailed a medium cross to Sammy Watkins over this head, then missed connection on a deep seam route to Travis Kelce.
Offensive play of the day: Mahomes found paydirt on back-to-back plays, first connecting with Tyreek Hill for a 60-yard touchdown on a fade route down the left side. On the very next play he hooked up with Chris Conley on a deep post, hitting him in stride for another 60-yard score.
Defensive play of the day: Cornerback Steven Nelson turned in his third interception of training camp. Backup quarterback Matt McGloin tried to find rookie receiver Byron Pringle in the flat out to the left, but Nelson read the play perfectly, jumped the route and took it to the house for a score.
Monday’s practice served as training camp’s edition of a “Fast Friday” practice during the season. The one hour and 40 minute practice was almost entire team work with a 10/10/10 format giving the starting offenses and defenses an opportunity to work on specific game plan concepts.
Kareem Hunt started off the 11-on-11 work with a run up the middle, then Mahomes completed nine straight passes to five different receivers. Sammy Watkins hooked up on a deep post against safety Leon McQuay, and Travis Kelce finished up the first set of reps with a long touchdown on a seam route.
The first set of 10 reps introduced some interesting personnel usage. With Hunt, Spencer Ware and Charcandrick limited or out, Damien Williams continues getting looks with the first team and appears sharp. He’s always had good hands out of the backfield but his pass blocking has been excellent.
Cameron Erving appears to be the new Zach Fulton, although he may start at left guard barring an injury. He played four different positions on the offensive line Monday, all but right guard. When he moved to another position, Parker Ehinger came in at left guard. At minimum Erving projects as the Swiss Army knife on the line, stepping into any position as the backup. But he may also draw the starting nod at left guard. It looks like a two-man race right now with Erving in the lead.
Safety Armani Watts also saw his first snaps with the first team defense, initially coming in as a dime safety and then spelling Daniel Sorenson at free safety. In both situations Watts played the deep safety.
Injuries are testing the Chiefs’ depth at inside linebacker with Reggie Ragland and now Ukeme Eligwe on the sidelines. Terrance Smith stepped into the starting slot alongside Anthony Hitchens in the base look, but rookie free agent Ben Niemann from Iowa also saw reps with the ones. He’s draw praises from several coaches thus far and has emerged as a strong roster sleeper candidate or potential practice squad player.
The first team defense suffered a bit of déjà vu in their series. On the final play of the first set of reps backup quarterback Chase Litton fired a pass over the middle that defensive end Allen Bailey batted away – directly toward Litton, who completed the pass to himself and ran for a short gain. Seeing a quarterback wearing No. 8 complete a pass to himself might have brought back bad memories for some Chiefs.
After Harrison Butker complete a perfect run on field goal tries, the first-team offense returned to work against the No. 2 defense. Mahomes finished this run 8-of-10 passing to four different receivers. Hill and Conley scored long touchdowns on consecutive plays, and Kelce grabbed three receptions.
New helmet rule causes stir
Sunday’s practice came to a full stop during the heaviest part of a rainstorm, thanks to confusion over the NFL’s new helmet rule.
NFL referees work the team’s practices over the weekend, in part to help players learn the new rules and points of emphasis. When safety Robert Golden delivered a rugged hit to tight end Alex Ellis during the non-padded practice, confusion and controversy reigned
The officials flagged Golden for initiating contact with an opponent using the crown of the helmet. That’s now a 15-yard penalty at any point on the field, whether on the offense or defense. Certain flagrant violations of the helmet rule can lead to an ejection.
Following a discussion the officials picked up the flag and ruled the pass incomplete. That led to lengthy discussion between the officials and head coach Andy Reid.
The officials reviewed video of the play after practice and then reversed course again.
“They initially picked the flag up then they came back in the afternoon and said, you know what, after they looked at the tape, they probably should have left that thing on,” Reid said. “It was a good teaching tool for our players, it was good for the officials.”
Reid is pragmatic about the new rules changes, emphasizing that difficulty in finding clear absolutes in rules interpretations.
“There is a human element of error that is going to happen whether it is on the players’ side of it or whether it is on the officials’ side,” Reid said. “You just have to work through it. Preseason will be real important for some of the new rules.”
Eligwe missed Monday’s practice with a foot strain. He joined linebacker Ragland (knee) and cornerbacks Keith Reaser (quad) and Ashton Lampkin (knee) among those watching practice from the sideline.
Running back Charcandrick West did not attend practice. He remains in the league’s concussion protocol after taking a hit to the helmet on Saturday.
Quote of the day
Defensive tackle Xavier Williams on playing for his hometown team:
“Man, it’s amazing. A lot of guys grow up dreaming about where their childhood team was, getting a chance to play and a few guys get an opportunity to play in the NFL – even still rarely do they get an opportunity to come home and enjoy home-cooked meals, seeing all the family and everything. It’s been amazing.”
The Chiefs take the first day off of training camp Tuesday. They returned to work Wednesday, Aug. 1 for an 8:15 a.m. practice. Admission is free but parking costs $5 per car.
The camp weather forecast for the rest of the week looks very favorable with temperatures a bit warmer. Wednesday’s forecast calls for clear skies and temperatures in the 70s during practice.