By TOMMY REZAC
St. Joseph Post
Monday was one of the more lowkey training camp practices the Kansas City Chiefs have had so far.
With overcast conditions, temperatures in the low 70s and a smaller-than-normal crowd, the Chiefs practiced for a swift 75 minutes Monday, working out in half-pads and completing a 10-10-10 practice.
A 10-10-10 means 10 offensive plays, 10 defensive plays and 10 minutes of special teams play. That process was repeated twice during Monday's workout.
Video from Aug. 7
With the starting offense going against the second-team defense, and the starting defense going against the third-team offense, there's not a lot to ream from practices like these.
One thing is clear, however. With eleven practices down, more difficult roster decisions are coming, as the Chiefs try and find the right combination for their 53-man roster this season.
One area where that could be especially difficult is wide receiver. Juju Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Mecole Hardman and Skyy Moore seem perfectly safe. But those behind them, guys like Josh Gordon, Daurice Fountain, Justin Watson, Corey Coleman, Cornell Powell, Omar Bayless.
All capable receivers, but not adequate room for all of them. Be that as it may, coach Andy Reid has liked the competition at that spot.
"It's good," he said. "(General manager Brett Veach) has brought in great people. He's brought in good players that are going to compete. Somewhere, we're going to have to let good players go, but it's a tribute to Brett and the job he's done."
One receiver who could be on the outside looking in is Gordon, which is probably not expected for someone who was drafted 10 years ago and is entering his sixth season in the NFL.
After a bit of a slow start to training camp, Reid has noticed a greater sense of urgency from Gordon.
"He's had really good days the last few days," Reid noted. "I appreciate his effort and he's kind of the senior citizen of that group. He's the older receiver in that mix and has had success in this league."
Gordon has mostly worked with the second-team offense this camp, but he's had a handful of reps with Patrick Mahomes and the first-teamers, especially in the last few days.
After Monday's practice, Gordon was asked how confident he is in making the 53-man roster.
"I just want to go out and get the opportunities I get and give it 110%," Gordon said. "Let the cards fall where they may and see what happens, but I don't have an answer for that to be honest. I don't. I wasn't a starter last year, so I'm fighting for a spot like everybody else."
Gordon was signed by the Chiefs last September and elevated to the active roster in October. He played in 12 games last season, making just five receptions for 32 yards, but he scored his first touchdown since 2019 on a one-yard reception in the Las Vegas game in December.
Gordon has faced six total suspensions related to the NFL's substance abuse policies. The Chiefs are the fourth NFL team he's played for. Gordon led the NFL in receiving yards in 2013 and was named a first-team All-Pro.
Revamped defensive line
The Chiefs bring back their entire starting offensive line from last season after making major changes in that group following the Super Bowl loss to Tampa Bay.
On the defensive front, Kansas City is revamped. The Chiefs had just 31 sacks in 2021, which ranked 29th in the league. Seventh-year pro and defensive tackle Chris Jones feels confident about his group’s progression since the end of last season.
"I think we left a lot of opportunities last year and in our last game of the season on the field," Jones remarked. "We were able to make a few changes in the defensive line room with a lot of familiar faces back. This year, I think it's about being gritty. Stopping the run, stopping the pass and doing whatever we can to help this defense out."
The Chiefs signed defensive ends Carlos Dunlap and Matt Dickerson during camp to provide depth. Rookie and first-round pick George Karlaftis also adds an additional pass rusher to the defensive line.
Frank Clark and Mike Danna also add experience at defensive end, while Derrick Nnadi is a fifth-year pro at defensive tackle. Tackles Tershawn Wharton and Khalen Saunders have also gotten solid reps on the interior of the line.
Starting center Creed Humphrey has taken notice of the solid competition up front.
"It's been very competitive these last couple of weeks," he said. "We've had some really humid, hot days. Everybody has been pretty moist out there. Just getting after it though and competing every play. So, it's been really good. You kind of see the mental toughness we have in the group and what the defensive line has in their group."
As many have probably seen by now, former Chiefs coach and longtime NFL head man Dick Vermeil was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio this past Saturday.
He and Andy Reid have quite a bit in common. Namely, they have both coached the Eagles and Chiefs. Vermeil coached the Eagles from 1976-1982, the Rams from '97-'99 and then the Chiefs from 2001-2005.
Reid says Vermeil talked to him extensively, once Reid took over the Eagles in 1999 and again in 2013 when he got the Chiefs job.
Reid says he and Vermeil talk a lot more often than that, about once a week. Reid made the trip down to Canton with his wife, Tammy, to honor a longtime friend and mentor.
"He talked to me about the atmosphere (in Kansas City) and...he coached me up on it," Reid said. "That's priceless. I mean, that's priceless. And he checks in all of the time."
Receiver Daurice Fountain didn't work Monday due to a groin strain. Still no Jody Forston, as he's "making progress" with a strained quad injury. Corner Rashad Fenton (shoulder) and offensive lineman Lucas Niang (knee) remain on the injured list. Defensive tackle Taylor Stallworth (knee bruise) is also still out.
The Chiefs signed defensive end Matt Dickerson Monday and released Shilique Calhoun to make room on the 90-man roster. On Saturday, the Chiefs signed receiver Devin Gray and released corner Deandre Baker.
Gray was getting his first reps in with the team Monday. Dickerson was seen Monday morning as well, wearing jersey No. 96.
The Chiefs have camp again on Tuesday and will rest Wednesday. They'll work Thursday and then travel Friday, heading to Chicago for their first preseason game against the Bears Saturday.
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