Things went so well during the Chiefs' organized team activities that Andy Reid dismissed his players early. Well, sort of.
The Chiefs cut short their final day of mandatory minicamp because of the heat, but Reid said Thursday that enough was accomplished to sacrifice some extra snaps.
For starters, everybody showed up. That hasn’t been the case in recent seasons. Also, the spring training period allowed several new players, especially on defense, to acclimate.
Cornerback Kendall Fuller wanted to get going as soon as he could.
“The only thing I wish could have happened was if the trade had happened later in the offseason,” said Fuller, who came to the Chiefs from Washington in the Alex Smith deal. “But it was early so I had just to sit around and wait and didn’t have a chance to meet anybody until I got here.”
If this spring's practices had a dominant figure, it was Patrick Mahomes. Anticipation for the new starting quarterback went to the next level. Praise for his progress came from coaches and players, even those who are getting to know him.
“I hadn’t worked with Pat that much,” said wide receiver Chris Conley, who missed the final 11 games of 2017, his third NFL season, with a torn Achilles. “Toward the end, when Pat started taking some reps, I wasn’t out there. But it’s huge to build chemistry with Pat.”
Mahomes said he met his objective over the past few weeks, with an emphasis on timing with receivers, footwork and widening his knowledge of the offense.
“A lot of guys got better,” Mahomes said. “To see guys get in, work hard and try to improve their game helps me be more positive for when the season comes around.”
Broadening Mahomes’ game also was an objective. For all of his potential, Mahomes has one NFL start and 62 snaps' worth of pro experience.
“One of the big things for young players is the blitz game, so we put a big emphasis on that,” Reid said. “Tried to get him a lot of different looks there. I thought he handled that very well, even better than I expected. I really thought he handled the whole thing very well.”
The Chiefs don’t have all the answers heading into a few weeks of down time before reconvening in St. Joseph for training camp in late July. Some key players, such as center Mitch Morse and outside linebacker Dee Ford, continue to recover from injuries. Left guard remains a question mark.
And that's not to mention the defensive turnover, with newcomers like nose tackle Xavier Williams, linebacker Anthony Hitchens and cornerbacks Fuller and David Amerson slotted for starting roles.
But even with a new quarterback and so many defensive pieces, the two-time defending AFC West champions enter the down time with confidence.
Reid said he was high on the team’s prospects.
“I would tell you it’s like a baby,” Reid said. “You’re trying to figure out what they’re going to be when they grow older.
“You’ve got to kind of go through the process. We all have to pump the brakes for a minute and get through training camp . . . You’re optimistic about it. There’s some young talent that’s unknown. We’re all (eager) to see how that develops but let’s let it develop. Let’s see how it goes. But it’s exciting.'”