A storm forced the Chiefs indoors for the last hour of the final day of training camp Wednesday. It was the first time during their three-week stay at Missouri Western that the Chiefs were forced to practice inside.
But spirits were not dampened.
Quarterback Alex Smith called this year’s edition the best training camp he’s attended in his five seasons with the Chiefs.
“It’s easy to slip into the mindset of just trying to get through it,” Smith said. “I feel like our guys brought energy every day. It seems like it has flown by.”
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A good sign, but just fluff? Don’t players say something similar every year when camp breaks?
Actually, a year ago, Smith talked about how happy he was to get out of the dorms. And that team captured the AFC West and finished 12-4, the second-best record in the AFC and third best in the NFL. A fourth winning year under Andy Reid produced a third playoff season.
Many preseason projections set the Chiefs’ over/under victory total for this year at nine, usually behind the Raiders, who also finished 12-4 last season but were swept by the Chiefs.
“Whatever the outside feelings are, it’s hard to know,” Reid said. “Nor do we care about that part.”
The Chiefs broke camp a confident and familiar team as they head to Cincinnati on Saturday for their second preseason game. They not only return most of their playmakers on both sides of the ball, they welcome back healthier defensive stars Justin Houston and Derrick Johnson.
Among the rookies, quarterback Patrick Mahomes is off to a good start, tossing a touchdown pass in the opener. But other draft choices, like defensive lineman Tanoh Kpassagnon and running back Kareem Hunt, are poised to blend in sooner.
It all adds up to a positive outlook, expressed from the top down.
“I think we have a very good football team,” Chiefs chairman and CEO Clark Hunt said. “Obviously, when you win the division like last year and make the playoffs, that’s your goal. You want to get back, but we want to get further this year. And we think we have a team that’s capable of doing that.”
Reid believes the makeup of this year’s regular-season schedule played a part in the team’s focus upon arrival at camp. The Chiefs are involved in the NFL opener, at Super Bowl champion New England on Sept. 7, and play the league’s second-toughest schedule based on opponents’ winning percentage in 2016.
“We’ve got this great schedule,” Reid said. “You have to come into this camp, the OTAs, everything else to be at your best every week.”
The Chiefs play in prime time five of the first eight weeks, and six times during the season. They play at Oakland and the Dallas Cowboys on short weeks.
“That’s a positive thing,” Reid said. “It’s a great challenge.”
This year’s veteran presence and mild weather also helped the Chiefs get more accomplished in St. Joseph, Reid said.
“Schematically, we probably got a little more done than in years past,” Reid said. “We challenged them like crazy. With the weather cooperating the way it did, you can get away with doing that. I thought the guys functioned at a high level.”