KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Rain and clouds gave to sun and humidity at Chiefs practice Wednesday afternoon, creating a steam environment as the team prepares for a noon kickoff Saturday against the Chicago Bears at Solider Field.
Among the Chiefs making a return to Chicago is special teams coordinator Dave Toub, who coached special teams for the Bears from the 2004 to the 2012 seasons.
Toub used a Chicago reference earlier in training camp, comparing the speed of Chiefs rookie Tyreek Hill to Bears kick returner Devin Hester. Toub said Hill has more speed, but reminded everyone Wednesday that Hester is still the champ.
“I said that, but Tyreek has got a long, long way to go to be in the same category as a Devin Hester,” Toub said. “You got to do it on the field. He hasn’t broken out yet, it hasn’t happened in a game. We’ve seen some spurts in practices and stuff like that but he’s got a long way to go.”
Here’s a rundown of other observations from Wednesday’s Chiefs practice.
CHARLES IMPRESSES CHILDRESS
Running back Jamaal Charles participated in his first full team drills Tuesday, and what he showed pleased offensive coordinator Brad Childress.
“He’s looking good,” Childress said. “He battled through some things yesterday. It’s always different when people around your feet. All the rehab you do, seven-on-seven, is more of an air thing.
The Chiefs expect to gradually increase the workload for Charles leading up to the season opener. Childress said it will take time for the back to return to All-Pro form.
“I think he’s probably working through natural soreness, he’s got to spend some time on that leg and do football-type movements,” Childress said.
POSITION BATTLE SPOTLIGHT: INSIDE LINEBACKER
The battle between Justin March and Ramik Wilson at inside linebacker alongside Derrick Johnson took a turn with the injury to veteran starter Josh Mauga. Mauga missed both preseason games so far with a groin injury
Defensive coordinator Bob Sutton believes the missed practice time will not slow down Mauga.
“Josh has played a lot of plays for us here since he’s been here,” Sutton said. “He came in, was going to be a back up in 2014, and played a thousand-some snaps. We’re confident when he’s healthy and ready, we’ll get him back in there.”
March started against the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday, but he and Wilson continuing sharing reps with the first-team defense.
“I think they’re all competing well,” Sutton said. “It’s going to be a close battle, which is great in a lot of ways, because you love the idea that there is competition and that they’re going to make a decision that’s hard. To me that’s a positive for our team.”
SPECIAL TEAMS LOADED
The stress of next week’s roster cuts weighs less heavy on Toub this year than in the last three years under Andy Reid.
“I think it’s the best that we’ve had for me as far as special teams talent, whether it’s returners, cover guys, linebackers,” Toub said. “At a lot of positions I think we’ve got some good talent. However it shakes out, we’re going to be in good shape.
Toub said his players are always on the roster bubble, but the team’s depth means players that make the 53-man roster will have special teams abilities.
“There’s some spots where however it goes, whoever gets cut, I know I’m going to have a good guy coming up,” Toub said. “Not everywhere, obviously I have my guys that I like. But there’s a lot more depth than we’ve had in the past at spots.”
Left guard Parker Ehinger left practice with cramps
The Chiefs hit the practice field Wednesday with no new injuries to report. Linebacker Justin Houston (knee) remains on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list.
Linebackers Moses (glute) and Mauga (groin) along with fullback Trey Millard (knee) and defensive lineman Rakeem Nunez-Roches (back) missed practice. Safety Eric Berry is yet to report.