Patrick Mahomes heard an all-too-familiar voice and promptly took notice.
“Line up again!”
Chiefs coach Andy Reid barked into Mahomes’ ear after the rookie quarterback threw three interceptions during Monday’s training-camp practice.
Mahomes got the message, responding on his next three passes with impressive throws, including a touchdown to tight end Travis Ross on a fly route.
Asked if Reid’s instructions ever get to him mentally, Mahomes just laughed.
“It is awesome having those smart, offensive-minded guys tell you exactly what you need to do on the plays you did good and on the plays you did bad,” Mahomes said. “Really just critiquing all of the time … It helps you learn and make a better decision the next time around.”
Mahomes has had his share of bad throws and decisions through two weeks of training camp. He’s also had some moments when he looks like the starter, but it’s no secret Alex Smith is the guy, at least through this season.
Still, Mahomes’ maturity has caught Reid and Smith by surprise.
“He is wired different,” Smith said. “He is just more natural. I think he has a better grasp on it (than Smith did as a rookie) … I think he is in a better place so he will be able to just go out and play.”
The Chiefs released their first depth chart on Monday, with Mahomes listed as the third-string quarterback behind Smith and Tyler Bray. The competition at the position, however, may be closer than it seems.
“I don’t think they’re worried too much about the depth chart,” Chiefs’ offensive coordinator Matt Nagy said. “They understand that their play will do their talking, and if they focus on that, they’ll be fine.”
Mahomes will get a chance to show what he can do Friday evening, when the Chiefs play their first preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers at Arrowhead Stadium. Nagy said he and Reid have yet to discuss how many reps each quarterback will get.
“It is going to be exciting, especially playing at Arrowhead,” Mahomes said. “It is something that you can’t really dream of how much excitement will be in the stadium.
“I think (I have) veterans in front of me that can kind of explain to me what you need to do, how you need to go in and just be yourself and be efficient.”
Mahomes, who the Chiefs drafted 10th overall in the 2017 NFL Draft after moving up 17 spots and trading their 2018 first-round pick, will continue to take that approach as the preseason progresses.
Mahomes ran an offensive juggernaut at Texas Tech, where most of his damage was done through a no-huddle offense. He’s tied for most passing yards in a single NCAA game (734), and holds the record for total offensive yards in a single game (819).
On Monday, though, he acknowledged that finding an offensive flow at the pro level is a tougher challenge.
That’s where Reid comes into play.
“The little things (Reid) says, you would never think of,” Mahomes said. “But then when he says it, you’re like, ‘That really does click for me; that really does make sense.’”
He admits some of Reid’s lengthy play-calling can be tough to follow. But so far, Reid thinks Mahomes is doing a fine job.
“(Mahomes) is very intelligent. There’s no problem learning,” Reid said. “It’s just a matter of seeing it. Sometimes you’ve got to get it out and you’ve got to do it. It’s one thing to be able to give you all the information from the tape or the board.
“It’s another to be able to see it and do it.”