Running back Jamaal Charles answered questions about his new contract extension following the first full practice of the Kansas City Chiefs’ 2014 training camp in St. Joseph. Credit: Matt Derrick, ChiefsSpin.com
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. – The Chiefs first day of training camp was likely just what head coach Andy Reid wanted: highly organized, relatively injury free and largely uneventful.
There was no question who the fans were most excited to see.
Running back Jamaal Charles, fresh from signing a new contract extension on Wednesday, drew the loudest cheers from the standing-room only crowd gathered for the introductory practice on the campus of Missouri Western State University.
Charles delighted fans from the very beginning of the scrimmages during practice, taking a screen pass from quarterback Alex Smith and following his blockers for a would-be touchdown.
The passing game overall was on display, with Smith demonstrating both accuracy and distance.
Smith and wide receiver Donnie Avery connected for a fan-pleasing deep bomb, and Smith finished up his work day throwing a laser pass caught along the sideline by leaping A.J. Jenkins.
On the defensive side of the ball, the most noteworthy development was cornerbacks Marcus Cooper and Ron Parker lining up with the first team while Sean Smith played almost exclusively with the second team.
Smith began playing with the second team during offseason workouts last month following his arrest for driving under the influence. However, it’s still too early to draw conclusions on what this means for the eventual starting lineup.
Other observations from the first day of training camp:
No new contract news
While Charles avoided any possibility of a holdout by signing his contract extension, there are still unanswered contract questions surrounding both quarterback Alex Smith and linebacker Justin Houston. Both Smith and Houston evaded questions about their contract status following practice.
Tight ends on display
• If there were questions concerning the Chiefs tight end position after last year’s flurry of injuries, the first training camp practice put many of those questions to bed. Anthony Fasano, Travis Kelce and Demetrius Harris all made solid plays through the practice.
• Kelce continued to play with no limitations, and that is of particular importance following his injury-plagued rookie season and his continuing recovery from microfracture knee surgery. Kelce generally ran with the second team, while Harris continued to followup his impressive play from offseason workouts as the third tight end. All three received shared reps with the first-team offense.
Starting offensive line
• The first-team offensive line consisted of left tackle Eric Fisher, left guard Jeff Allen, center Rodney Hudson, right guard Rishaw Johnson and right tackle Donald Stephenson. During offseason workouts, Johnson frequently shared first-team reps with sixth-round draft pick Zach Fulton. While Johnson drew all the first-team reps Thursday, Fulton saw extended duty on both the second- and third-team offensive lines.
• Recent free-agent signee Ryan Harris lined up at left tackle on the second team with J’Marcus Webb holding down the right tackle slot. Filling out the second-team line was Jeff Linkenbach at right guard, second-year player Eric Cush at center and Fulton at right guard.
Special teams notes
• Veteran kicker Ryan Succop and rookie undrafted free agent Cairo Santos were a perfect 6-for-6 in field goal drills, although the longest kick was from just 43 yards. Both kickers showed accuracy, although Santos demonstrated his booming leg during kickoff drills with kicks reaching the back of the end zone.
• As expected, Knile Davis led the way during kickoff return drills, with fourth-round draft pick De’Anthony Thomas next up, followed by rookie undrafted free agent Albert Wilson and Frankie Hammond. Weston Dressler also got a crack during the second round of drills.
Not on the field
• The only notable injuries to emerge on the first day of camp actually occurred before camp started. Safety Sanders Commings sat out practice, and Reid said Commings suffered a foot injury while training.
• Rokevious Watkins also sat out the first practice of training camp. Reid said Watkins was suffering from a back issue. The injury delayed Watkins’ first appearance on the practice field since the annoucement of his four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
• Commings and Watkins were placed on the non-football injury list.
• Running back Joe McKnight and cornerback David Van Dyke were also unavailable after being placed on the physically unable to perform list Monday. McKnight had his kneed scoped following the team’s mandatory minicamp, while Van Dyke suffered a hamstring injury during organized team activities.
• Reid attributed McGrath’s absence from the practice as being for personal reasons. Reid said McGrath had issues to address, and indicated the Chiefs would support him until he made a decision to return to the team.
• With the passing game on display in the first training camp practice, it’s no surprise that wide receivers may have stood out the most. Mark Harrison, who was signed just more than a month ago, made several big catches, including making an adjustment on a ball throw behind him by rookie quarterback Aaron Murray. Harrison made the grab and beat cornerback Brandon Jones for a touchdown. Harrison also made another athletic catch on a throw by Tyler Bray.
• Also making big plays on offense were wide receivers Dressler and rookie free agent Darryl Surgent. Dressler made several catches in traffic out of the slot positions, while Surgent also made a nice catch in coverage on a pass from Murray.
• In addition to lining up third for kickoff returns, rookie wide receiver Wilson also received some first-team reps late in practice.