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Chiefs training camp report, Aug. 18: Stray observations following a light practice

Chiefs Daily, Aug. 18: "Sharpest team so far" breaks camp

Andy Reid says starters will play all of first half in Rams game. Jamaal Charles will not play.
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Andy Reid says starters will play all of first half in Rams game. Jamaal Charles will not play.

The highlights from the Chiefs’ training camp practice Thursday in St. Joseph, which brought an end to the open-to-the-public portion of camp.

The offense

The Chiefs held another light, non-practice that lasted for two hours. They again worked almost exclusively in 11-on-11 drills. …

The Chiefs opened practice with a quick, fast-paced session with solid execution. All three quarterbacks who took the first 10 snaps or so were accurate. …

During the first-string offense’s next session, Albert Wilson made a had a rare drop on a catchable ball. Wilson has had a nice camp and has generally been a reliable receiver. To the naked eye, there hasn’t been a ton of separation between Wilson, Chris Conley and Rod Streater in terms of performance throughout camp. All should see some targets throughout the season and are worthy of being rotated in behind Jeremy Maclin. …

However, Conley is someone who has really shown improvement over the last month. He’s made a number of tough, contested catches — he had one Thursday on a slant with a defender hounding him — and might be in the process of earning quarterback Alex Smith’s trust. …

Speaking of the quarterbacks, Nick Foles seems entrenched as the No. 2, leaving Tyler Bray, Aaron Murray and Kevin Hogan to battle it out for the remaining reps. Bray’s recent injury was timely, but the Chiefs seem to think he’ll be fine. Murray needs to take advantage of the extra reps he’ll presumably get against the Rams on Saturday due to Bray’s absence, because he never surpassed Bray on the depth chart over the last month and the club is probably wary of giving up on rookie fifth-round pick Kevin Hogan this quickly. …

Receiver Tyreek Hill has also been impressive in camp, though he hasn’t been lighting it up lately the same way he did early on. He’s easily one of the five best receivers on the roster and someone who can contribute on offense and special teams. Demarcus Robinson, a fourth-round rookie, has also flashed in camp — he caught a short pass from Murray on Thursday and again showed off his elusiveness, weaving between tackles — and is also worth holding on to. The Chiefs will have some tough decisions come the final 53-man cut down day, which is Sept. 3. …

Receiver Mike Williams has also improved since a rough start to camp in which he battled the drops. He caught a go-ball from Murray on Thursday and has been more consistent catching the ball. It will still be tough for him to make the team — there’s so many other receivers on the roster the Chiefs have invested more time, money or picks in — but he’s appeared to connect with Murray in practice and it might be worth seeing if that translates to Saturday’s exhibition game against the Rams. …

The young starting offensive line has a chance to be good, particularly down the road. All five starters are mobile — all of them played left tackle in college — and several, particularly right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, have shown a nasty, competitive temperament. That’s a good sign for a line that probably wasn’t aggressive enough over the first two years of coach Andy Reid’s tenure. …

Kicker Cairo Santos missed a few field-goal attempts that would have capped scoring drives. Two were from distance, as one was too wide and another was too short. However, there’s still not much to worry about with Santos, who has been fairly reliable the last two seasons, even though the Chiefs still want him to raise his touchback rate (44 percent). …

Speaking of Santos, he’s had a new holder lately — receiver Jeremy Maclin. Punter Dustin Colquitt has been his holder for the last two seasons. Special-teams coach Dave Toub wasn’t asked about it this week, but that’s something to keep an eye on going forward.

The defense

Outside linebacker Frank Zombo had a sack early in the practice. Inside linebacker Derrick Johnson later praised Zombo, noting that he has quietly had a solid camp. If Justin Houston misses a significant period of time, the Chiefs better hope he’s right. …

Safety Shakiel Randolph had a nice pass breakup on a Murray pass intended for Frankie Hammond. Randolph immediately stood up and pumped his fist. He’s made a few plays on the ball in camp. …

Safety Stevie Brown intercepted a pass by Foles over the middle. It was a nice play by Brown, who finds himself in a battle for snaps with Daniel Sorensen and Eric Murray. …

Murray and fellow rookie D.J. White, a cornerback, were recently singled out by Chiefs coach Andy Reid for their strong play in the exhibition opener. The same can be said for defensive tackle Chris Jones. Reid said cornerback KeiVarae Russell, who is working as the third-team slot corner, is still getting a feel for the position. If that’s the case, it might open the door for Marcus Cooper — a fourth-year veteran in a contract year who has had a nice camp — to make the roster, because the Chiefs might want another experienced option as the starting right corner in case second-year pro Steven Nelson isn’t quite ready or Phillip Gaines’ knee doesn’t hold up. …

One position group that can help the young cornerbacks is the interior defensive line, which might be the strength of the team. The starting three — Jaye Howard, Dontari Poe and Allen Bailey — is among the best in the league, while multiple backups — including Chris Jones, Nick Williams, David King and Rakeem Nunez-Roches — have flashed in camp. The Chiefs might have to cut a good player here, and if they do, some other team will likely swoop in and take them, just like Dallas did a year ago with David Irving, a former Chiefs practice-squad player who is now a starter for the Cowboys. …

Another position where there’s a ton of good competition is inside linebacker, where Josh Mauga, Ramik Wilson and Justin March are all battling for the right to play next to star Derrick Johnson. March has flashed in camp, surpassing Wilson on the depth chart, but nothing is set in stone, and it remains to be seen if any of them can match Mauga’s consistency. That said, the Chiefs also like D.J. Alexander — he’s a core special-teams player for Toub — and it’s difficult to carry five inside linebackers. Unless someone gets hurt, one of them — barring an injury — might have to go.

Injury report

Maclin returned to practice after missing Wednesday’s session with a groin injury.

For the third straight practice, running back Jamaal Charles joined his teammates for stretching and warmups and he continues to work his way back from an ACL injury. He also participated in some 7-on-7 drills, which he did not do Wednesday.

Running back Charcandrick West missed practice for the fourth straight day with a mild elbow strain and sprain. Quarterback Tyler Bray missed his fourth straight practice with a chip fracture in his spine. Inside linebacker Josh Mauga (groin) missed his sixth straight practice.

Outside linebackers Justin Houston and Tamba Hali remain on the physically-unable-to-perform list and did not practice. Safety Eric Berry still has not reported due to his contract situation.

Today’s schedule

No practice. The open portion of camp has come to an end.

The number

150

The approximate number of servicemen and women representing the Army, Air Force, Marines, Navy, Coast Guard and Air National Guard who attended Thursday’s practice for Military Appreciation Day.

Today’s playlist at Chiefs camp

“Jump Around” — House Of Pain

“It Takes Two” — Rob Base, DJ EZ Rock

“Car Wash” — Rose Royce

“You Dropped A Bomb On Me” — The Gap Band

“You Give Love A Bad Name” — Bon Jovi

“Beat It” — Michael Jackson

“Shining Star” — Earth, Wind & Fire

“Real American” — Hulk Hogan

“Could You Be Loved” — Bob Marley

Other camp reports

Aug. 17 — Alex Smith is on point while D.J. and Marcus Peters shine

Aug. 16 — Nick Foles, Chris Conley shine while defense has the drops

Aug. 15 — Aaron Murray slings it while Justin March and others rise on depth chart

Aug. 10 — Rod Streater stars, Tyler Bray rises to occasion

Aug. 9 — Ross Travis shows potential, cornerbacks make plays

Aug. 8 — Chiefs showcase deep passing game in light practice

Aug. 7 — Daniel Sorensen channels his inner John Lynch, Marcus Peters shines

Aug. 6 — Quarterbacks raise their game, offense thrives

Aug. 5 — Foles flashes, defense wins first “live” tackling session

Aug. 4 — No practice

Aug. 3 — Trick plays, interceptions and more from a light practice

Aug. 2 – Tyreek Hill, other new receivers, star on second day of pads

Aug. 1 – Big plays rule first day of pads

July 31 – Receivers, cornerbacks shine during heavy passing practice

July 30 – No surprises among starters

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