KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Every Kansas City Chiefs practice during offseason training activities features a familiar scene, a nearly deserted playing field dotted with a handful of players putting in extra work on an aspect of their game.
Without fail, rookie quarterback Patrick Mahomes is among the last to head to the locker room at the end of the day.
“These veterans are guys who have been around the league, been in the league or have been very successful,” Mahomes said of his quarterback mates Alex Smith and Tyler Bray. “In order to be like them, I’ve got to really go as hard as they do and catch up to them.”
Mahomes never appears lonely on the practice field. Offensive coordinator Matt Nagy and offensive quality control coach — as well as former Andy Reid QB pupil — Mike Kafka frequently work directly with Mahomes during or after practice. Reid and assistant head coach Brad Childress also have one-on-one talks with the rookie during practice.
Mahomes says he understands the jump from college to the professional football requires a different process. At Texas Tech his arm strength alone could funnel the ball through a wide window. His legs allowed him to easily extend plays until a defense broke down.
“In college, sometimes you would try to just make it work, where here there’s an answer for everything,” Mahomes said. “You just have to know those things. That’s probably the biggest thing that I’ve learned, and it’s really awesome honestly.”
Now the windows appear smaller and speed and agility, while still highly valuable, cannot wear down defenses as easily.
“These guys now are a little faster, can jump a little bit higher,” Mahomes said.
Mahomes confidence tells him he’s getting closer to be ready for his first taste of game action.”
“I don’t know if I’m that far away,” It’s just more I’ve got to keep working, keep getting better.”
Mahomes finished Wednesday’s practice at the reins of a two-minute drill. But the drive didn’t last long.
The rookie found nothing available on his first drop back and attempted to throw the ball out of bounds to kill the clock. Linebacker Reshard Cliett, recently acquired off waivers from Tennessee, found a way to get his hands on the ball and return the interception for a touchdown to end the drill.
“If I’m going to throw the ball away, just throw it all the way out of bound,” Mahomes said about the interception. “You’ve got to learn from those mistakes. They happen but you’ve got to eliminate them, not let them happen again.”
PACKING ON THE WEIGHT
Many NFL players wage a battle keeping off weight, rookie defensive lineman Tanoh Kpassagnon might need to belly up to the buffet table to keep his weight up.
“I’ve gotten my weight up a little more,” Kpassagnon said. “I’m like 288 now. I came in a little light.”
The 6-foot-7 rookie weighed in at 289 pounds at the NFL draft combine in March. He said he wants to reach 290-295 pounds for the season.
Chiefs general manager John Dorsey indicated following Kpassagnon’s selection the young lineman could easily play at a higher weight.
“Just looking at his frame I think he’s at least 300 pounds easy,” Dorsey said back in April. “He’s 289 pounds right now and he looks lean.”
HUNT SMOOTHLY FITTING IN
The Chiefs ask their running backs to display versatility, and thus far Kareem Hunt has checked all the boxes.
“I feel like I can do a lot of things,” Hunt said. “I can catch the ball out of the backfield, I can run the ball and I can stay in there and help with the pass protection.”
Hunt also fits another characteristic the Chiefs prize in their skill position players — the ability to make plays in space.
That allowed Hunt to figure more prominently in Toledo’s passing game as a senior. Hunt caught just 32 passes for a mere 152 yards through his first three collegiate seasons. He grabbed 41 catches for 403 yards last season.
“I talked to my coaches at Toledo and told them I could get more involved in the receiving game,” Hunt said. “I felt I could get open and make people miss in open space.”
Hunt and undrafted rookie free agent Devine Redding join an experienced backfield. Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West own three seasons of experience in the league while free agent C.J. Spiller enters his eighth year.
“I’m just trying to learn from them and pick up little things that they are doing right and just trying to improve my game,” Hunt said. “They’re helping me out with the plays and helping me learn.”
Matt Derrick is the lead beat writer for ChiefsDigest.com. Use the contact page to reach him or find him on Twitter: @MattDerrick.