Minicamp Notebook: Turnovers drive defense, Conley making strong comeback

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Chiefs defense exacted a small measure of revenge in Wednesday’s minicamp practice, picking off three passes and breaking up several others in the team’s penultimate workout before the offseason draws to a close.

Rookie cornerback Tremon Smith picked off a Chad Henne pass early during full team drills. Cornerback Kendall Fuller intercepted a pass from Patrick Mahomes intended for Travis Kelce during seven-on-seven work. Safety Eric Murray finished the practice with a juggling acrobatic interception on a throw from Mahomes to receiver Sammy Watkins on a fourth-down simulation.

Cornerback Steven Nelson said his teammates in the secondary are hungry, and on Wednesday it showed.

“It’s been good so far,” Nelson said about the current state of the team’s secondary room. “Especially we’ve got these young guys in, they’re willing to work. The new guys DA, Amerson and Fuller, those guys came in ready to work and have been doing a good job.”

Minicamp closing up

The team has one last minicamp workout practice on Thursday before the offseason closes. The next time the Chiefs take the field will be when rookies, quarterbacks and injured players report for a three-day minicamp in late July at Missouri Western in St. Joseph.

The team expects to announce training camp dates within the next few days.

Passing grades

Mahomes delivered a steady performance in Wednesday practice, unofficially completing 14 of 20 passes during full team drills. The misfires included an interception, two tipped passes and an overthrow on a deep ball to Travis Kelce on a tight end cross pattern.

Sammy Watkins teamed up with the catch of the day, a leaping grab down field against David Amerson that may have gone for a touchdown in a live game.

Mahomes opened up team drills with four straight completions before a botch snapped. On his second set of reps, Mahomes had two passes tipped and fired an incompletion on a quick timing throw to Watkins.

Injury report

The Chiefs continue to hold out a few players from practice as offseason workouts come to a close, headlined by running back Kareem Hunt who remains out with a hamstring injury. Linebacker Dee Ford (back)  along with running back Spencer Ware (knee)  took part in individual drills but did not work with the team.

Linebackers Terrance Smith (undisclosed) and Dorian O’Daniel (undisclosed), as well as wide receiver Byron Pringle (calf) and cornerback Makinton Doreleant (undisclosed) did not practice. Center Mitch Morse (foot) and wide receiver De’Anthony Thomas (leg) continue their rehab with a return targeted during training camp.

Rookie fullback J.D. Moore and rookie defensive lineman Dee Liner did not appear on the practice field for the second-straight day.

Conley making progress

Wide receiver Chris Conley continues to make strong strides in his return from a ruptured Achilles tendon, to the point that the Chiefs have backed off the fourth-year receiver at times to allow him rest as he continues to rehab.

Conley said he’s dropped about 10 pounds since the injury. He played at 225 last season but now tips the scales at around 214.

“I’m at a good body fat percentage and I feel fast,” Conley said. “I don’t think there’s any reason to add more weight where I’m at right now.”

Since Conley last took the field for the Chiefs in Week 5 against the Houston Texans, many things have changed for the offense. Conley didn’t get much work with Mahomes last season and now the Chiefs have added Watkins to the receiving corps. Add to that game plan wrinkles from head coach Andy Reid, and it all adds up to a new look for the offense.

“I think it’s evident when you see the guys that are in our room and the talent that’s in there and the arm that’s going to be throwing the ball is that the ball can go anywhere and there’s going to be open guys because you can’t cover that many people,” Conley said. “And right now we’ve been very multiple in our sets. We’ve added a couple of new personnels that move and shuffle everyone around to every spot, literally every spot. It’s really up in the air right now.”

Conley said he’s excited for what the changes mean for the offense.

“I’ve seen what happens when you have a lot of guys with experience who can play on the field and that’s what we want,” Conley said. “We want to create competition but then at the end of the day we also want to have as many guys out there who can make plays in those situations as possible.”

Minicamp news and notes

The Chiefs have five tryout players participating in minicamp this week, including Central Oklahoma wide receiver Josh Crockett. He put on an impressive show Wednesday, hauling in a leaping catch on the run in traffic and nearly making another circus catch on a play in which the officials flagged the defender for pass interference. … Other tryout participants include North Carolina offensive lineman Bentley Spain. … Tight end Alex Ellis continues to impress with his pass-catching skills, hauling in another deep ball from Chad Henne.

Quote of the day

“Sammy’s a good guy, he works really hard. He’s picking up this offense way faster than anyone I’ve seen pick it up before and I think that it’s going to translate to game.”
— Chris Conley on fellow wide receiver Sammy Watkins


Matt Derrick is the lead beat writer for Use the contact page to reach him or find him on Twitter: @MattDerrick.