Mahomes showed the arm that was part of the reason the Chiefs traded up to get him in the first round of the draft as Kansas City began a three-day rookie camp on Saturday.
Highlights were few, though Mahomes did throw a deep fade pass down the left sideline that required some muscle and plenty of touch. Undrafted free-agent wide receiver Alonzo Moore made a diving catch.
Otherwise, practice was a little rough for Mahomes, who threw plenty of passes off target. But that’s to be expected for the first day of a rookie camp, when players are new to one another.
The most important thing for him was that it was a start.
“Operating at a high level," Mahomes said when asked before practice what his goal was for the three days. “Being able to call the play, know what’s going on, make the right checks. Whatever you have to do, I want to be able to do that and get better at that every single rep every single day."
Mahomes didn’t get his playbook until Friday, when he began the basic process of learning the play calls. He literally worked on that in front of a mirror and with a voice recorder before practice to get them down.
“It’s a lot more than I had at Texas Tech," he said. “Whenever I got up there and called it, then I had to look out there and see the guys and make sure everybody was in the right position. That was pretty much the process, and it was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be."
The Chiefs tried not to overload Mahomes but were eager to get the learning process started by pushing the rookie quarterback.
“You try to find a balance to where you’re still challenging him but he can still function," coach Andy Reid said. “Everything won’t be pretty today, but he’ll do all right. He’ll get an idea of what it’s all about.
“The main thing is that he learns the verbiage part. We know he can throw the football. It’s a matter of getting in and getting the verbiage down and the formations and making sure he’s comfortable with that. It’s a good period for him to learn. There will be a lot of that going on."
Mahomes comes to the Chiefs as a backup to starter Alex Smith, so the expectations for him to begin with are only that he learn the many nuances of his craft as a professional.
“I come in with a little bit of pressure, but it’s Alex’s team," Mahomes said. “Alex is the starting quarterback, so I have time to really work on my game and become ready and be available whenever coach Reid needs me."
Mahomes arrived at practice wearing uniform No. 15, different than his No. 5 from Texas Tech. That number is taken with the Chiefs by kicker Cairo Santos, and Mahomes didn’t feel it was his place to bribe it away from Santos.
“I wanted to make my own number and do a new thing with this new chapter of my life," Mahomes said.
He acknowledged the special moment when he put on his jersey, even if it was only the practice variety.
“That meant the world to me," Mahomes said. “[It’s] the dream coming true. It’s just the start, but at the same time you’re in the NFL. It’s hard to believe, but you’re here, and that’s something that not a lot of people get to experience."