Kansas City Chiefs Official Team Website | Chiefs.comThe Chiefs took the field for another round of OTAs this past weekMatt McMullen
The Kansas City Chiefs were back at it for another round of Organized Team Activities (OTAs) this past week as the reigning Super Bowl champions continued the offseason training program.
This portion of the offseason - which began the week of May 22 - is significant in that it allows for 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills to take place at the team facility. Previously, only individual, positional and "perfect play" activities were allowed. These practices are a major step toward the real thing, and while they're not padded and no live contact is allowed, they still provide a great opportunity for growth.
With all of that being said, here are a few quick notes detailing what took place at Thursday's practice, which marked the second of three OTA sessions open to the media:
- Wide receiver Justyn Ross made one of the plays of the day with a full-extension catch deep down the sideline during team drills.
- Defensive end Mike Danna hauled in an interception at the line of scrimmage during team drills.
- Wide receiver John Ross made a noteworthy catch in the corner of the end zone during a red zone portion of 7-on-7 drills.
- Cornerback Dicaprio Bootle tallied a pass-breakup during a 7-on-7 period. It was an impressive, athletic play deep down the sideline.
- Rookie wide receiver Rashee Rice made an impressive touchdown grab in the back of the end zone during offensive install reps. The second-round pick high-pointed the ball, hauled in the catch and kept both feet in bounds for the would-be score. It was part of what was a strong week for Rice.
- Wide receiver Skyy Moore hauled in a strong grab over the middle in traffic during 7-on-7 drills.
- Veteran wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling impressed with a difficult, full-extension catch down the sideline during team drills.
- The team works on a variety of situations and scenarios during every practice, and Thursday was no different. In fact, the offense and special teams unit worked together to practice several run-on field goal tries during the session. It's always one of the more fun drills to watch, and that preparation could turn out to be critical at some point during the upcoming season.
Additionally, following practice, several assistant coaches were made available to the media. Here are a few items that stood out from their press conferences.
1) Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo spoke about the growth he has seen from the Chiefs' second-year defensive backs between this time last year and now.
The Chiefs added five defensive backs in the 2022 NFL Draft - Trent McDuffie, Bryan Cook, Joshua Williams, Jaylen Watson and Nazeeh Johnson - and according to Spagnuolo, each of them is off to a great start this offseason.
"They're lightyears ahead. They feel it, and it's different and they're confident," Spagnuolo said. "The first day that we went out there for a walk through, the communication and the talking [was great] - and I'm including [safety] Justin Reid in that because last year was all new for him. Those guys' [snaps], just from a verbal [perspective] and being kind of tied in from that standpoint, they were just jelling."
All five of those rookies - plus Reid - made a significant contribution to the Chiefs' run to a world championship last season, so their collective growth is certainly exciting entering 2023.
2) Assistant Head Coach / Special Teams Coordinator Dave Toub was asked if he anticipates any new return men emerging during the offseason training program.
The Chiefs deployed rookie running back Isiah Pacheco as their primary kickoff return man last season, but as Pacheco likely takes on a larger workload offensively in 2023, that role could be up for grabs this summer. Toub explained as much on Thursday.
"Yeah, I do anticipate that. Some guys that are doing really well right now that you probably want to know [are rookie Deneric] Prince, [who] is looking good as a running back," Toub said. "He reminds me so much of [former running back] Knile Davis. He reminds me of Knile, he even has the same number. [He] didn't [return kicks] in college, but he's showing traits right now that he reminds me so much of Knile - it's kind of scary. Knile was pretty good for us, obviously with the touchdowns. So, I see him in that role."
Prince signed with the Chiefs as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Tulsa shortly following the draft. Toub also went on to mention wide receivers Richie James, John Ross, Skyy Moore and Ihmir Smith-Marsette as players who are currently in the mix as return men.
3) Lastly, Wide Receivers Coach Connor Embree spoke about wide receiver Skyy Moore's growth as he enters his second season with Kansas City.
Moore is looking to build on his strong finish to last season that included a critical punt return in the AFC Championship Game and a 4-yard touchdown reception in Super Bowl LVII.
"Skyy has been great. We put a lot on him last year. Usually when we get a receiver, we try to keep them at one position [because] it's easier to learn that way, but we threw a lot at him last year. He played every position - all three of them, the 'X, Zebra and Z' [spots]," Embree explained. "He came back in great shape. He looks stronger, he's a little bigger, and then he's just got that year under his belt. So, he's not that little puppy dog anymore. He kind of understands what's going on, [and] he understands the tempo we practice at and just how to be a pro, so he's been great."
The Chiefs will return to the field next week for another round of OTAs before mandatory minicamp kicks off on June 13.