The Kansas City Chiefs have had more turnover among their offensive skill positions than they’ve had in any previous offseason since Patrick Mahomes became the starting quarterback. They’ve been working together for just under a month at Kansas City’s organized team activities (OTAs) — which has given head coach Andy Reid time to form an opinion on the new collection of weapons he’ll be able to deploy against opponents.
He shared those thoughts with reporters on Thursday, the final time he’ll answer questions from the media before training camp — which will begin near the end of July.
“Do we still have room to grow?” asked Reid. “Absolutely — but [they’re] further ahead than I had anticipated they would be at this point. I like the guys we brought in; they have a feel for space. I always worry about that just a bit — but they did a nice job with it.
“This camp is all passing, we don’t run the ball. So it gives you a bit of an idea in the pass game what the guys are capable of. I just think if we keep the reps up like we do during camp, that addition will help us.”
Reid mentioned “space,” which could point to the preciseness of routes — or how well the receivers are understanding where they are supposed to be on the field in relation to coverage defenders.
That could have been developed before any official team workouts began. Mahomes hosted what appeared to be the majority of the skill-position players for workouts down in Texas before OTAs started. Any progress made down there stood out to Reid when they came to practice in Kansas City.
“They obviously got work done,” Reid acknowledged. “Because when they came back they were in good shape and also had the routes down — which helped. I think whenever they can get together, they do to get ready for camp.”
The two biggest names among the newcomers are both wide receivers: Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Juju Smith-Schuster. Reid had complimentary words for both of them — and also noted that returning wide receiver Mecole Hardman has “upped” his game.
“I really like the way those two worked,” said Reid. “They’ve got a nice connection with Pat up to this point. I’d be very curious to see what it looks like with live bullets… but I wouldn’t expect much different than what I’ve been seeing.”
During team, WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling high-pointed a nice pass from Mahomes down the left sideline on a one-on-one ball vs. CB Trent McDuffie. Later, Mahomes floated nice passes to MVS and TE Travis Kelce.
1. Kelce, 2. MVS is my *way-too-early* pick for ’22 yard leaders.
— Pete Sweeney (@pgsween) June 14, 2022
During the portions of practices open to the media, Valdes-Scantling has noticeably become one of Mahomes’ favorite targets. When the quarterback spoke with reporters on Thursday, he allowed that this was partly because other receivers were banged up — but either way, his relationship with the former Green Bay Packers receiver has grown to an impressive point.
“I think he’s done a great job of learning the offense really fast — and making plays when his number has been called,” Mahomes said the fifth-year wideout. “He’s a smart guy, so you can see why he’s able to pick up stuff so fast — and he has good feel for everything.”
The quickly-built partnership has already progressed to Mahomes pulling the trigger when Valdes-Scantling isn’t exactly open.
“You saw a couple of them down the sideline — where it was one-on-one — I threw it up to let him make a play. And he did,” noted Mahomes. “That’s a good thing to see, and hopefully it carries on through training camp and into the season.”
For an offense that has boasted continuity throughout the Mahomes era, this offseason is presenting a new challenge. So far, it sounds like the newcomers are picking up things fast, but the next test — live-game situations in training camp — will be a step up in difficulty.
Until then, the group has earned some optimism from the people who matter most.