Training camp notebook: First day of school jitters rule

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — The first day of training camp serves as a dry run for the Kansas City Chiefs, with just rookies, quarterbacks and select veterans on hand for the first three days before the full roster reports.

Kansas City Chiefs rookie running back Kareem Hunt takes part in individual drills during the team’s first practice at training camp in St. Joseph, Mo. on July 25, 2017.

And that’s a good thing, because the first day proved a little rough. An unofficial count put the team’s quarterbacks at 9-of-27 passing with an interception during seven-on-seven drills.

A flurry of overthrown passes, drops and deflections found their way to the turf at the Missouri Western State University practice fields.

No one proved immune from the rough start.

Fewer than 30 of the team’s 90 players on the roster are on hand for the abbreviated three-day head start before camp officially opens Friday. Most are rookies and young players with little if any NFL game experience.

The skeleton crew also leads to players out of position. Offensive guard Damien Mama, an undrafted rookie from USC, handled snapping duties with no true center in camp. The rookie struggled with accuracy much of the day.

KELCE, JOHNSON BACK ON THE FIELD

Tight end Travis Kelce and linebacker Derrick Johnson both took part in full practice following offseason rehab.

Kelce underwent shoulder surgery in February. Johnson sustained a ruptured Achilles tendon last December. Both missed most or all of the team’s offseason program, mostly serving as observers and providing coaching to young players.

Now both are back on the field, and look ready to roll when the full roster arrives Friday.

The duo took part in seven-on-seven drills as well as individual drills. The team expects to manage reps for both players early in camp. It remains unknown how much either player plans to participate in full-contact drills.

KAREEM HUNT IMPRESSES

Third-round draft pick Kareem Hunt drew praise during offseason practices for his agility and elusiveness, but quarterback Alex Smith sees another trait he loves in the young running back.

“The thing I’m really pumped about is I feel like he has picked up the pass game and the protection,” Smith said, “and that’s normally what’s the hardest for young backs protecting the pass game.”

Hunt said he spent time studying the playbook and blocking assignments during the break between minicamp and training camp.

“I’m just learning the protections,” Hunt said. “They’ve got a lot of them. You got to really just stay in the playbook.”

Assignments and technique remain crucial to effective blocking, but Hunt says a back needs a tough attitude do dirty work done in the passing game.

“Honestly you just got to have the mentality that I’m going to step up and stop this guy’s charge,” Hunt said.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“I kind of missed that wave. That wave passed me by. I remember coming into the league and MySpace was big. I didn’t get on that train and then the Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, all roads passed me. At this point it is kind of refreshing.”
— Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith on why he does not have a Twitter account

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Matt Derrick is the lead beat writer for ChiefsDigest.com. Use the contact page to reach him or find him on Twitter: @MattDerrick.

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