ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- Judging by what they’ve shown at training camp, the Kansas City Chiefs have reason to be encouraged by their passing game, particularly when starter Alex Smith has been the quarterback. Smith unofficially has completed more than 63 percent of his passes with just three interceptions in 139 throws.
Better yet, Smith has been pushing the ball downfield with regularity, often to Tyreek Hill, who every day has looked like a legitimate No. 1 wide receiver.
But the Chiefs have brought a passing game that was productive at camp into the regular season before and been disappointed with the results. So even though Friday night’s preseason opener against the San Francisco 49ers at Arrowhead Stadium is meaningless in the standings, it carries some significance to Smith with regard to passing game momentum and transitioning to the regular season.
“It’s the next step in the progression,’’ Smith said. “It’s the first [game]. We’re not game-planning it. To be honest, you don’t even know what they’re going to run. I think you want your training camp rules to take over and to go out there and execute. The opportunities we do get, you just want to go out and play ball. You don’t want to do too much. Sometimes when you’ve only got a few snaps, guys try to do too much and try to make too much happen. You just have to go out and do the little things.
“[Preseason games] don’t count. But you’ve got to get warmed up and you’ve got to be ready to roll. You want to hit that opener at full speed. That’s what they’re there for. We want to go out and get up to speed. The kickoff game [in the regular season] with New England, we want to be rolling. We need to use these four preseason games the right way.’’
Success or failure by the starting offense against the 49ers or in any of their three subsequent preseason games won’t guarantee Smith and the Chiefs anything when they begin the regular season on Sept. 7 against the Patriots in New England. That’s particularly true for Friday night’s game. Smith and the other starters may get just one series against the 49ers. In any case, the plan is for the starters to be on the sideline when the second quarter begins.
Playing time for the starting offense should increase in the second preseason game and again the following week. The starters may not play at all in the fourth and final exhibition game.
But Smith said he believes in momentum.
“I would like to keep the same mentality and mindset that we have going,’’ he said. “I think especially as a perimeter unit on offense, I know we have a good mindset right now. I think guys are seeing things really well. We have been communicating really well. I would love to see us keep that going. Just because we are in the game jerseys and we are at Arrowhead and under the lights, don’t let that affect you. Don’t let being worried about how many series you are going to get or how many snaps [affect you]. Just go out and however those opportunities present themselves ... let’s just go and play fast. I think if we let our fundamentals take over like they have on the practice field, good things will happen.”
“We’ve had a great camp from a QB ... perspective,’’ Smith said. “We‘ve grown. We’ve been pushing it. These young guys have been playing well. Just kind of continue that, right? One play at a time, go out, try to execute, be smart, make good throws, stay aggressive, all of those things that we kind of talk about.’’