While the big story at the Kansas City Chiefs’ mandatory mini-camp is the holdout of star linebacker Justin Houston, the players that are actively practicing met with the media yesterday afternoon, following the conclusion of day one.
Of note, another prominent Chiefs player who is also engaged in a contract negotiation of his own – Alex Smith – discussed the Chiefs offseason and the offense with the media following the practice.
One of the biggest questions regarding this Chiefs offense heading into the 2014 season was available pass-catching options for Smith. Because the Chiefs didn’t draft a wide receiver this year and didn’t pick up a big-name free agent either, many are scratching their heads, wondering if there will be any kind of an upgrade to the position moving forward.
One frontrunner to be that upgrade is a guy who missed his entire rookie season due to a micro fracture in his knee. Tight end Travis Kelce has been battling through the injury since last preseason, trying to get on the field in order to make a difference for the Chiefs organization. According to Smith, it appears there may be some progress on that front.
“I thought [Kelce] looked great. It’s great to see him out here. He’s been working his tail off for a long time now and it’s tough work behind the scenes. He’s been here trying to get it right, so this is just the next step for him. I thought he looked good.”
The offensive weapon new to a Chiefs uniform is running back/wide receiver/kick returner De’Anthony Thomas. “The Black Momba” is a bit behind the power curve due to the fact he’s coming out of Oregon who falls under the quarter system academically. Because of that, he was only just allowed to join his teammates this week. That puts him well behind his peers – rookies and veterans alike – in picking up this offense. Smith touched on that as well.
“A little bit of a crash course for [Thomas], just because of (Oregon) with the quarter system, it’s tough. We’re trying to cram a lot in in three days. A lot of reps, a lot of mental stuff. I’m sure he’ll be spending a little bit these few days (working on that.)”
Smith wrapped up his time with the media discussing the finer points of the mini-camp versus what the team did during the voluntary OTA’s that took place over the last couple of weeks.
“Yeah, we have more time for install, so we’re not as crammed on time and we can install. We get the walk through to go through these different looks and then after we get through all of the film. It’s tough in OTAs to squeeze all that in in six hours. So, minicamp-wise, a little more relaxed pace. We really can take our time and kind of zero in on details.”
Despite the fact that Smith is waiting to hear from his agent whether he’ll be playing under the final year of his current contract – earning him nearly $8 million for the 2014 season – or whether he’ll be getting a raise, the Chiefs quarterback seems to be “all in” during this offseason.