The Chiefs’ offense doesn’t have much room to improve statistically after leading the NFL in points and yards in 2018.
But Sammy Watkins sees a two-part path to more production through the passing game.
“We are a home run team,” Watkins said. “We can go deep. We’ve got all these track runners, thoroughbreds, running.”
Yes, with burners like Tyreek Hill and rookie Mecole Hardman, the Chiefs have two of the NFL’s fastest wide receivers.
“We can match the short-yardage stuff, running a lot of quick routes,” Watkins said. “I think we can possibly be unstoppable.”
Watkins figures to play a major role in the attack as a long threat and big-bodied possession receiver. He’s coming off a season that was headed for major production but was slowed by a foot injury that limited him to nine starts in 10 games.
Still, Watkins produced 40 receptions, his most since 2015, with three touchdowns. He came up big in two playoff games with 10 catches.
Injuries have been an issue throughout Watkins’ first five NFL seasons and he’s hoping a change in his offseason regimen can alter the trend.
Essentially, the 6-foot-1, 225-pound Watkins said he put his trust in someone other than himself to get in shape.
“I think I had one of the best offseasons with the training staff and the weight-room guys,” Watkins said. “I just kind of trusted them and gave them my all. I’m glad I did because now I can just run around there and have fun and not think about any body issues or injuries.
“Usually I’m overworking myself.”
Also critical to Watkins’ offseason were his roles as a student and a teacher. He wanted to improve his route running by becoming better out of breaks. Who better to learn from than a teammate who is one of the best in the game?
“Thanks to Tyreek,” Watkins said. “He specializes in breaking and running routes. I went to see him for five or six days and he taught me how to stop. I’m a big guy, I run hard, fast and physical. You’ve got to learn how to control that speed.”
Watkins also sees himself as an example. It’s a role Watkins rarely considered before. But when the Chiefs drafted Hardman with their first selection in April, Watkins believed he could help the former Georgia wideout.
“It helps me express myself more,” Watkins said. “Mecole, that’s a guy that I’m trying to help out, and others. I’m trying to be that leader. I can’t be that guy to go out there and be talking to him and then go mess up.”
Although it’s only been a few days, Watkins sees some payoff. It’s early, but Hardman had his best day in camp on Monday.
“Every day he’s focusing on the little things,” Watkins said. “He had one of his best practices today, and just me watching him and the coaches (be) kind of hard on him, I think that will help.”
Watkins also stood out on Monday. He’s had a smooth camp, with his offseason work showing dividends that are noticed by the coaching staff.
“Sammy looks good,” offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy said. “One thing I’ve noticed is his ability to transition in and out of breaks faster, which is huge. You figure a man of that size, after the catch, he can be dangerous.”
In Watkins’ estimation, so can the entire offense, with a wide receiving corps that give quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who tossed 50 touchdown passes last season, plenty of options.
“Pat, the first year, had all those crazy numbers,” Watkins said. “And a lot of guys broke so many records. I think the same thing will continue to happen.”