ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs opened 2021 training camp on July 28 at Missouri Western State University. Here is a closer look at some storylines:
How will Patrick Mahomes bounce back from the biggest loss of his pro career and surgery to repair turf toe?
As for the loss, Mahomes was humbled in Super Bowl LV in a way he hadn’t been since becoming the starter for the Chiefs. Not only did the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hand the Chiefs a lopsided loss but they held Kansas City without a touchdown for the first time with Mahomes at quarterback.
It hardly seems like the type of loss that will linger for Mahomes, who had won 25 of his previous 26 starts. Mahomes was limited in that game by a patchwork offensive line, one the Chiefs spent a considerable amount of resources trying to fix during the offseason. Mahomes said after the loss to the Bucs that the game would motivate him for the rest of his career.
As for the surgery a few days after the Super Bowl, Mahomes was ahead of schedule by the time the Chiefs gathered for offseason practice. The initial plan for Mahomes was to begin practicing during the mid-June minicamp but he was on the field when the Chiefs started practice the last week of May.
Who’s the No. 2 wide receiver after the Chiefs lost Sammy Watkins to free agency?
The Chiefs had added a significant offensive threat each season since Mahomes became their starter, beginning with Watkins in 2018 and followed by Mecole Hardman and Clyde Edwards-Helaire. But that streak ended this year and at a curious time, since the Chiefs have nobody proven to replace Watkins as the No. 2 receiver behind Tyreek Hill.
Hardman is the leading candidate but it takes a leap of faith to believe he can handle the job. The Chiefs have largely resisted giving him more playing time the past two seasons when Watkins has been out of the lineup with injuries. Mahomes has seemed frustrated with Hardman at times, particularly during last year’s Super Bowl.
Who plays where on the offensive line?
With the arrival of three linemen through free agency, two through the draft, one through trade and two returning from opt outs, the Chiefs have a lot to sort through at training camp.
Otherwise, it’s a scramble. The Chiefs have six other linemen who have been an NFL starter at one time or another. That doesn’t even cover tackle Lucas Niang, a 2020 draft pick who opted out of last season, and rookies Creed Humphrey and Trey Smith. Humphrey was the starting center during offseason practice.
Given the Chiefs made no significant additions at any other offensive position groups, it’s an understatement to say the line at camp will be where the action is, at least when it comes to position battles.
What impact will defensive tackle Jarran Reed have?
The Chiefs believe they picked up one of the steals of the offseason when they signed Reed after he was released by the Seattle Seahawks. He joins Chris Jones in giving the Chiefs a pair of pass-rushers who at one time in their careers had at least 10 sacks from an interior position.
The Chiefs have some depth inside with Derrick Nnadi and Tershawn Wharton, so the addition of Reed frees the Chiefs to move Jones around. He played some on the edge during offseason practice and it will be interesting to see just how much the Chiefs feel comfortable using him there once the regular season begins.