Chiefs head coach Andy Reid reflects on mandatory minicamp
The only down time for NFL players arrived with the end of Chiefs minicamp on Thursday and the bar of expectations has been set for the team that will reconvene for training camp at Missouri Western State University in late July.
“Don’t come back on crutches,” coach Andy Reid said.
A noble goal, but quarterback Patrick Mahomes and other team leaders added a couple of layers.
“We told them we’re not going backwards when we get to training camp,” Mahomes said. “When you’re at training camp you’re adding on and getting better every single day. You don’t want to lose all the stuff you’ve work for in OTAs and minicamp.
“So go out and enjoy the break but make sure you come back ready to go the first day.”
With several new assistant coaches, including defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, the Chiefs had plenty to work on this spring. The defense installed a base 4-3 scheme. New acquisitions such as defensive linemen Frank Clark, Alex Okafor and Emmanual Ogbah, and safety Tyrann Mathieu got used to their new surroundings.
Draft picks including wide receiver Mecole Hardman and safety Juan Thornhill made strides, with Thornhill sitting out the three-day minicamp to recover from a strained calf.
The Chiefs got first looks at offensive newcomers including running back Carlos Hyde and a group of rookie free agent wide receivers.
What, or who, the Chiefs didn’t see were defensive lineman Chris Jones and wide receiver Tyreek Hill, who remains suspended by the team.
Jones, angling for a big contract, missed the spring team practices. He’s been working out on his own, and Reid, speaking for the first time at minicamp, didn’t have much to say about the situation.
“They have talked, Chris’ people and our people,” Reid said. “That’s pretty much where it’s at.”
Mahomes also said he’s spoken to Jones.
“I’ve talked to Chris. I know he’s working hard and he’ll be ready to go when he gets back. Right now I’m just working with the guys that are here,” Mahomes said.
Work for Mahomes, who led the Chiefs to the AFC Championship Game and won the NFL MVP award, involved familiar issues.
“I feel like I’m repetitive in saying it, but it’s my footwork,” Mahomes said. “I make a lot of off-scheduled plays scrambling around and throwing the ball. Many little plays I’ll miss because my feet aren’t in the right position and I rely too much on my arm.
“And deciding when and when not to take chances. I’ve had a lot of big plays happen, and they I’ve had plays when I’ve thrown interceptions when I force things too much.”
One of those picks in minicamp was bagged at the line of scrimmage by Okafor, who signed a three-year, $18 million deal with the Chiefs in March and impressed Mahomes throughout camp.
“That man’s arms are so long,” Mahomes said. “He’s a guy I’m excited to have on defense. He’s going to be an impact player.”
The Chiefs expect to enter training camp as a favorite in the AFC. They’ve won the last three AFC West titles, and their conference title game appearance was the first since the 1993 season.
Reid said the team will embrace the role.
“We know expectations are high,” Reid said. “We appreciate that. Guys work hard to put themselves in this position. However, you’ve got to take care of what you can take care of...so the next five to six weeks are important weeks. You have to have small ears. You don’t need to listen to a lot.”
And don’t show up in St. Joseph next month on crutches.