Here’s what stood out at Chiefs’ camp on Thursday Matt McMullen
The Kansas City Chiefs kicked off another morning of training camp on Thursday as the team took the field for the second day of practices. The pads won't come on until Tuesday (Aug. 3), but the team is still getting plenty of work in while ramping up their activity level in the process.
In terms of who didn't take the field, linebacker Anthony Hitchens (hamstring) - who left Wednesday's practice early - joined defensive end Malik Herring (knee), tight end Nick Keizer (back), offensive lineman Kyle Long (leg), long snapper James Winchester (COVID protocols) and tailback Darwin Thompson (COVID protocols).
Additionally, tight end Travis Kelce left Thursday's practice early due to back and hip tightness.
Here are five observations from Thursday's practice session.
1. Camp is now officially open to the public.
The general public was welcomed onto the campus of Missouri Western State University on Thursday morning as the Chiefs took the field for an entirely public practice for the first time in two years.
Camp took place in a closed format at the team facility in Kansas City last year due to the pandemic, but following an exclusive Season Ticket Member viewing period on Wednesday, the public was invited to watch the back-to-back defending AFC Champions live and in person on Thursday.
For a look at the entire camp schedule, click here. As a reminder, tickets for camp must be reserved in advance by clicking here.
2. Antonio Callaway had a solid practice.
Callaway is one of the more intriguing players to follow in this year's camp as he's just 24 years old and only three years removed from a season in which the former Browns' receiver tallied 43 receptions for 586 yards and five touchdowns. He's played in just nine games in the two seasons since that impressive rookie campaign back in 2018 due to various suspensions, but still young and full of potential, Callaway is off to a solid start with his new opportunity in Kansas City.
Perhaps his best play of camp so far took place during the 7-on-7 period on Thursday, when quarterback Patrick Mahomes fired a contested pass over the middle to Callaway, who secured the catch in traffic and covered up the ball despite being well-covered by a defender.
Callaway will need to keep making plays to earn a spot on the roster, but his potential was on display during Thursday's practice.
3. Nick Bolton got his hands in the air and batted down a pass at the line.
Bolton was described as a Tasmanian devil on the field by numerous analysts prior to the draft and showed off some of his trademark energy during a team period of work. The second-round pick shot across the field on a blitz, moved past a blocker and got his hands up just as quarterback Chad Henne fired a pass, knocking the ball down at the line of scrimmage.
It was exactly the kind of play Bolton became known for at the University of Missouri.
4. Noah Gray continues to impress.
Gray seemed to consistently make plays during the offseason workout program and it's already translating to camp, as the rookie tight end hauled in an over-the-shoulder grab down the sideline during a 7-on-7 period.
The 6-foot-4, 240-pound Gray created a step of separation between himself and the defender as he cut toward the sideline downfield before Mahomes' pass landed in his outstretched arms in stride. He the managed to stay on his feet and likely would have found the end zone in a game situation.
Again, this was just a 7-on-7 period and the pads aren't on yet, but these kinds of plays are certainly exciting when thinking about the varied ways the Chiefs' offense will be able to attack defenses in 2021.
5. Chris Jones is moving all over the defensive line.
A major storyline this offseason has been the Chiefs' willingness to deploy defensive tackle Chris Jones as both an interior pass-rusher and a defensive end, moving the six-year veteran all over the place in order to maximize his unique talents.
"I'm just focused on being at the best weight where I can play both inside and out," Jones explained on Thursday. [Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo] is going to move me around. Most likely, I'll be playing both spots depending on the game plan and who we're playing. I'm just trying to put myself at a weight where I can play three-technique the whole game or play defensive end the whole game."
The key to this new strategy is the offseason addition of fellow defensive tackle Jarran Reed, who tallied 19 sacks over the last three seasons for Seattle and allows the Chiefs' defense to maintain a powerful force in the middle when Jones bounces outside.
"The acquisition of Jarran Reed along this line of scrimmage has freed me up tremendously. I'm just so appreciative of his dominance on the inside," Jones said. "My thing [for our entire group] is to continue to get one percent better throughout this camp, and by the time the season [gets here], we'll just keep on elevating baby, and we're going to be where we want to be by the end of the year."
Using Jones all over the defensive line is an exciting experiment to say the least, and fans at practice on Thursday received a glimpse at what Jones can do as an edge-rusher when he got after Mahomes during a team period. Jones came right around the edge, flushed Mahomes out to his right and probably would have recorded a sack had this been a game.
The Chiefs return to the field for another day of practice on Friday morning at 9:15 a.m. CT.