The Chiefs’ offensive faced fourth and long in training mode, and for a moment, it looked like Patrick Mahomes was going to hook up with Mikol Hardman for big wins.
did not come to be. That’s because Trent McDuffie’s first-round pick extended to hit the ball away — one of his two passes during Saturday’s practice at Missouri Western.
It was part of a strong day for Pick 21 from Washington, with Chiefs coach Andy Reed saying he loved what he’s seen from McDuffie recently.
“He is smart and strong. He understands the leverage, which is important,” Reid said. “He has that desire, and he makes the plays.”
McDuffie says part of his improvement has come from a shift in mentality. He said he made a conscious effort to focus on finishing the shots.
“Everything isn’t going well and I’m going to fail at the line in my technique or at the top of the track, but being able to fight through that ordeal and finish the ball when I think the end of the play is something I’m working hard at and something I saw out there today,” McDuffie said. It’s just something I try to do every day.”
His coaches are seeing improvement.
Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnolo described McDuffie’s efforts earlier this week as “brilliant,” saying he was particularly impressed that he was able to hold his own against the seasoned receivers.
Meanwhile, Reed says that even when McDuffie isn’t doing a play, he still looks like he’s around the receiver.
“So he’s at least in a position to make things happen,” Reid said. “For a young man, these are very good things. We can work with that.”
McDuffie said the biggest transfer from college was watching sports on every spot of the field. Another change: Reed’s practices — which were held on Saturday in hot, humid conditions — were more challenging.
“I think Andy Reed is doing a good job of getting us to run a lot, building our endurance and getting out here and playing tired,” McDuffie said. “I feel like this is a big thing a lot of us gamers can do during these hot days. Your body hurts right now, but getting out there and keeping that energy, and keeping that focus going when things are uncomfortable was great.”
There is still more processing and learning. McDuffie has played both inside and outside full-back, saying he has no preference but needs to know both points in case of necessity or injury.
However, the fact that he’s starting to make plays as he did on Saturday, is the start of a confidence-building process that he hopes will continue.
“It’s always hard to face this offense, especially for a young DB guy who is coming,” McDuffie said. “But I feel like I understand it, and I feel it will help me tremendously.”
Greg Jennings (concussion), defensive receiver Taylor Stallworth (bruised knee) and tight end Jodi Fortson (quad) did not train on Saturday. Fortson has now missed five exercises in a row, with Reed afterwards saying the tight end was ahead.
“It doesn’t look dangerous, but it’s dangerous enough that we need to put it away and not happen again,” Reed said of Fortson.
Back corner Rashad Fenton (shoulder) and tackle Lucas Niang (knee) are still PUP’s physically unable to perform.
Receiver Daurice Fountain injured his finger on Saturday, with Reed saying the team will have an X-ray to evaluate the injury further.
• Hardman had one of the best plays today in the First Delegates, Passing defensive back Nazih Johnson to pick up with one hand.
• Receiver Omar Bayless also flashed his ability, dropping his finger on a side throw from Chad Henney during 7-on-7s.
• Rising guest Joshua Williams returned with the first team as a nickel corner during Saturday’s training. Rookie Jaylen Watson has been in this spot for the past few days.
• The defense had a good day in 11v11 while limiting Mahomes’ throwing options.
• Josh Gordon, who has had a quiet camp so far, had one of his best plays during 7 on 7, pulling in a deep throw down the sideline.
Defensive end Carlos Dunlap participated in most of the training before leaving the field early. The Chiefs are easing him into rehearsals after he first arrives for practice Thursday.
• Tight End Travis Kelsey Shaved And It Now sports a mustache.
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