KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Chiefs return to training camp Saturday in St. Joseph, Mo., and should find coach Andy Reid in a good mood.
Reid addressed reporters during a Friday afternoon conference call and complimented performances from Thursday night’s 41-39 preseason opening win against the Cincinnati Bengals.
“Guys I thought played well,” Reid said, “we really had (tight end Travis) Kelce, (running back) De’Anthony (Thomas), (wide receiver) Albert Wilson and (running back) Cyrus (Gray) on the offensive side. I thought they put together a pretty good game.”
Kelce had a 69-yard touchdown reception, Thomas exploded with an 80-yard punt return for a touchdown, Wilson chipped in with a 65-yard return, and Gray led the team with 55 yards rushing and a touchdown on 10 carries.
The second-year head coach also offered praise for quarterback Tyler Bray’s ability to convert on third down and the offensive line before shifting focus to defense.
“I thought (cornerback) Sean Smith and (free safety) Malcom Bronson,” Reid said, “they both had interceptions for a touchdown and I thought they played well there.”
Reid pointed out linebacker Joe Mays’ sack and defensive linemen Jaye Howard, who finished with four total tackles (three solo) and a sack.
But for all the good, Reid also addressed areas he felt the Chiefs need to improve.
“The things we have to work on are the turnovers,” Reid said. “We had a few sacks, fumbles, and then turnovers and a pick-6. 21 points gave up off of turnovers, you can’t do that and win games. In the regular season that will kill you.”
Quarterbacks Alex Smith and Bray each lost a fumble, quarterback Chase Daniel threw the pick-6 and the Bengals finished with six sacks on the night.
The Chiefs finish training camp on Aug. 14, before shifting focus to an Aug. 17 preseason matchup against the Carolina Panthers.
Fourth-year pro Ron Parker got a taste as a starting right cornerback against the Bengals.
And while Reid complimented Parker’s tackling, Parker was on the wrong end of three bad plays.
Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green blew by Parker early in the first quarter for a 53-yard reception, wide receiver Brandon Tate beat Parker off the line of scrimmage on a 9-yard touchdown and Parker drew an illegal contact penalty.
“He got beat in a couple of coverage seams,” Reid said. “In particular that big play in the beginning there. He got flat footed on that and he got him.”
Meanwhile, Reid was noncommittal on Sean Smith, last year’s starter at right cornerback, Thursday night.
“He’s working his tail off,” Reid said following the game when asked if Smith was working his way back to the starting rotation.
Reid said Parker and Smith have to keep working to improve in the coming weeks.
Wide receiver Junior Hemingway hasn’t practiced since July 26 with a hamstring injury.
The third-year pro didn’t dress Thursday night and his absence has allowed other wide receivers, including Albert Wilson, Frankie Hammond and Kyle Williams, to emerge.
But don’t expect the Chiefs to rush Hemingway, who began training camp as the favorite to fill the slot.
“He needs to get back in when he’s better,” Reid said. “That’s the first part of it. He needs to get back into playing football and getting himself into football shape.”
Reid said Hemingway has been working hard and is a well-conditioned athlete, but the wide receiver hasn’t been able to do anything football-related on the field.
“You don’t want to rush him back and have him hurt that same thing any further than he already has,” Reid said.