Thu Jun 17 8:52pm ET
By DAVID SMALE
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) The Kansas City Chiefs wrapped up their three-day mandatory minicamp Thursday with a sense of optimism that comes from playing in the last two Super Bowls and the offseason additions to the roster.
These three days comprised the final practices the Chiefs will have in Phase 3 of the offseason program ahead of training camp which begins late July.
Head coach Andy Reid was most pleased that he could see his player in person.
''On these Zoom calls, you can install,'' he said following Thursday's practice. ''You can talk about fundamentals and techniques, but you can't work on them, and that's just what's real.
''This gives you an opportunity to actually run the plays and work on the fundamentals and techniques. . The coaches have evaluated their last season and (can) help them get better with the techniques and fundamentals that they might need this season.
''I think it's a win-win. I think it's great to have the technology, but at the same time, I think it's important that we're still able to get them on the field.''
The Chiefs were looking to upgrade one of the league's best offenses, particularly the offensive line. During February's Super Bowl, quarterback Patrick Mahomes was pressured a Super Bowl-record 29 times. According to NextGenStats, via Seth Walder of ESPN.com, Mahomes ran 497 yards before throwing the ball or being sacked.
So the Chiefs traded for a new starting left tackle, signed a free agent left guard, signed a free agent center and drafted another center, and got two linemen back from last year who sat out because of Covid.
Mahomes should be more comfortable this season. That, and the motivation of losing in the biggest game last season, has him ready to go.
''When you get beat like that on a stage like that, you're going to (be motivated) at all times. I'm going to try to make sure that doesn't happen again no matter what game it is.''
They said it:
''It's probably top of the list. It's been everything I've asked for. I feel like I can play football anywhere, but when you develop certain relationships with certain people, these people become a part of your life. So, Coach Spags (Steve Spagnuolo), Coach Merritt, Coach Reid, Coach Rubin, our strength coach, all these men have been important to me, so I can't see me ever walking away from that relationship.''- safety Tyrann Mathieu on his desire to sign a contract extension and finish his career with the Chiefs.
''I feel like I can be productive inside, outside, just wherever the team puts me. I think there are more advantages on the outside because of the fact you can't really double-team. You can chip, but you're not really getting as many double-teams as a three-tech would in this defense, so I'm excited about that.'' - defensive end Chris Jones on how he thinks he'll do in his new role (he played defensive tackle since his rookie year in 2016.
''Talking to Coach Reid and also Pat (Mahomes), there are things we're implementing to get the ball to the back and just get the ball spread out more. So, that was one of the things on why I chose to work on my hands and just be more of a threat. It was seen that I can run the ball between the tackles, outside. Being able to also get out, and not just routes out of the backfield but also spread out in the slot position and also the outside wideout position (will) expand my skill set.'' - running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire on becoming more involved in the passing game.
''Back home in Montreal, the gym has been closed for the past year. I was able to stay in pretty good shape, but I think when it comes to football shape, there's no other treatment than just playing football. Today was a great day, a great start and I'm looking forward to more practices. I think that's the key, is to get exposure, get some reps.''- guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, a licensed physician who missed the 2020 season to work in a long-term care facility in his home country of Canada.
The Chicago Bears signed former Denver Broncos tight end Jake Butt to an undisclosed deal on Friday. The Bears also added offensive lineman Tyrone Wheatley Jr., the son of former NFL running back Tyrone Wheatley. Offensive lineman Gunnar Vogel and defensive lineman Thomas Schaffer were released. Butt is only 25 years old, but he's played in only eight games in two seasons in the NFL and missed the entire 2017 and 2019 seasons due to injuries. He fell to the fifth round in 2017 due to a torn ACL. Butt will join a tight end group that includes Jimmy Graham and Cole Kmet, among others. He projects as an in-line tight end who will provide some depth behind Graham and Kmet, so he won't have any fantasy value to begin the year.
The Jacksonville Jaguars signed free-agent wide receiver Laquon Treadwell to an undisclosed deal on Friday after he tried out for the team at minicamp. In a corresponding move, wide receiver Jon'Vea Johnson was waived. Treadwell was a first-round pick (23rd overall) by the Minnesota Vikings in 2016 out of Mississippi, but he never lived up to his first-round billing catching just 65 of his 107 targets for 701 yards and two touchdowns in 53 games (16 starts) over his four years with the team. The 26-year-old caught just six passes for 49 yards in five games with the Atlanta Falcons last season, but he did produce a career-high two touchdowns. With a crowded wide receiver room in Jacksonville, Treadwell will have to prove himself in training camp in order to make the final roster. He can be ignored in fantasy.
Houston Texans offensive tackle Marcus Cannon (knee) recently underwent minor knee surgery following organized team activities, according to a source. Cannon is feeling good, and the scope is unlikely to affect his participation in training camp next month. The 33-year-old had played his entire career with the New England Patriots before being traded to the Texans in March. Cannon, who is a cancer survivor, opted out of the 2020 season due to concerns about COVID-19. He had been a reliable contributor on New England's offensive line in his previous four seasons, though, earning offensive grades of 70 or better in that span. Houston will need Cannon to contribute to help improve their running game and protect quarterback Deshaun Watson, if he sticks around.
The Chicago Bears signed free-agent defensive tackle Mike Pennel to an undisclosed one-year deal on Thursday, according to his agent, Andy Simms. Pennel served a two-game suspension to open last season with the Kansas City Chiefs, but he played in the other 14 games (one start) and recorded 29 tackles (13 solo) and one QB hit. The 30-year-old began his NFL career as an undrafted free agent with the Green Bay Packers and spent his first three seasons with them. He also spent two years with the New York Jets before joining the Chiefs in 2019. In 91 career games (16 starts), Pennel has 155 tackles (90 solo), 13 QB hits, two passes defensed, one forced fumble and two sacks. He will strictly serve as defensive line depth in Chicago if he makes the final roster out of training camp.
The Las Vegas Raiders signed former New York Jets first-round linebacker Darron Lee to an undisclosed deal on Thursday. The Raiders also added cornerback De'Vante Bausby to their roster and waived cornerback TJ Morrison in a corresponding move. Lee, 26, was the 20th overall pick in 2016. He spent three seasons with the Jets before joining the Kansas City Chiefs in 2019 and the Buffalo Bills for two games last year. Lee will provide the Raiders with some veteran depth at the position in training camp, and he'll have a decent chance at making the final roster heading into the regular season. In 58 career games (38 starts) over five seasons, Lee has 273 tackles (178 solo), 11 QB hits, three interceptions (one for a touchdown), 11 passes defensed, two forced fumbles and four sacks.
San Francisco 49ers defensive end Jordan Willis has been suspended without pay for the first six games of the 2021 regular season for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances. Despite the suspension, Willis will be able to participate in all offseason practices and all three preseason games. He'll be eligible to return on Monday, Oct. 25, after the team's Week 7 game against the Indianapolis Colts. The 26-year-old backup was acquired from the New York Jets in a trade last year and re-signed this offseason for one year. In seven games, he had 13 tackles and 2.5 sacks in 2020 for the Niners. Willis is expected to compete for a spot on the team's roster in training camp as an edge rusher.
Kansas City Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu said on Thursday that it's at the top of his priority list to finish his career with the team. "It's been everything I've asked for," said Mathieu. "I feel I can play football anywhere, but when you develop relationships with certain people, these people become a part of your life." Mathieu was previously pessimistic about receiving a contract extension from the Chiefs, but he's recently changed his tune and is now optimistic about getting a new deal. The three-time first-team All-Pro and two-time Pro Bowler has been with the Chiefs the last two seasons, recording 111 solo tackles, 10 interceptions (one for a touchdown), 21 passes defensed, one fumble recovery and two sacks in 31 regular season starts in that span. The 29-year-old's greatest asset to the Chiefs is his versatility in the secondary.
New York Jets rookie wide receiver Elijah Moore has been impressing the coaches so far at organized team activities and minicamp. The Ole Miss star has been a standout of the team's offseason practices after being taken 34th overall in this year's draft. Head coach Robert Saleh said Moore's "work ethic is off the charts." He's undersized at 5-foot-9, but he's smooth, sure-handed and runs precise routes. The Jets are using Moore in a variety of roles, and he could be used in tandem with slot receiver Jamison Crowder. The coaches love his versatility, so he'll also get a chance to audition for the punt-return job because of his ability to produce yards after the catch. Crowder's return will hurt Moore's upside in his rookie season, and it won't help that he'll also be working with a rookie quarterback in Zach Wilson. Temper expectations in single-year leagues, but those in dynasty/keeper formats should absolutely circle Moore on their cheat sheets.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (toe) said that he doesn't "see any problems moving forward" with his surgically repaired toe. Mahomes was able to move around well, which included some scrambling, during the team's mandatory minicamp this week. It was reported around a month ago that the former MVP was ahead of schedule, so it looks like nothing has changed. Mahomes should be a full-go for training camp next month with the toe issue in the rearview mirror. Although the offensive line remains somewhat of a question mark after the Super Bowl loss, Mahomes should once again be the first quarterback selected in the early rounds of fantasy drafts in 2021. He's posted QB1 numbers in 69.6 percent of his 46 career games to this point.
New York Jets tight end Chris Herndon (hamstring) was limited at the team's minicamp practice on Wednesday due to what head coach Robert Saleh said was "a little bit of tightness" in his hamstring. However, Saleh said that Herndon is "perfectly fine." It doesn't sound like an injury that should impact Herndon's availability for training camp at the end of July. The 25-year-old had a fine rookie season in 2018 when he caught 39 passes for 502 yards and four touchdowns in 16 games (12 starts), but he played in only one game in 2019 and caught 31 passes for only 287 yards and three touchdowns in 16 games (13 starts) in 2020. With a new coaching staff in place, Herndon could be more productive, but he'll also have a rookie quarterback under center in Zach Wilson. Don't write off Herndon just yet, but he should go undrafted in standard-sized leagues.
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett said that offensive coordinator Shane Waldron's new scheme gives him and the other receivers more freedom. "I think with the offense Shane brings in, it gives us more freedom. More freedom to be able to be the receivers that we can be. We got free range to do a lot of stuff," Lockett said. The pass-catcher also used the word "sophisticated" when describing the new offense. It remains to be seen if Waldron can get Seattle's offense out of the funk that they experienced in the second half of last season, but they certainly have the weapons to do it with Lockett, D.K. Metcalf and Russell Wilson. Lockett will have big games, but his fantasy managers last year were all too familiar with the fact that he would disappear for stretches, too. 48.7 percent of his production in 2020 came from just three games. It's fun to think about how good this offense can be, but targeting Lockett as anything more than a WR2 could be foolish.
Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said that both quarterbacks Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater, who are expected to share repetitions evenly in training camp next month, have both improved at minicamp this week. The two signal-callers had 29 snaps apiece in practice on Wednesday. "I've seen improvement in Drew's decision-making, timing and accuracy and for Teddy, it's more about getting up to speed on what we've done and he's right on-board with the things we're doing," Shurmur said. While it's anyone's guess as to who will be the starter in Week 1 against the New York Giants, Lock probably has the slight edge since he was the guy in 2020. But now that he'll have a much shorter leash, he'll need to improve drastically to win and keep the job. Whoever wins the job will have plenty of receiving weapons at their disposal, but they'll be a low-end QB2 option until they prove otherwise.
Arizona Cardinals SS Budda Baker (illness) said Wednesday, June 16, that he tested positive for COVID-19. The Cardinals finished minicamp last week, and no close contacts were identified.
Fantasy Spin: Baker is among the top defensive backs in fantasy for his tackling ability. This shouldn't affect that status.
Cleveland Browns defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (knee) took part in nearly every drill in minicamp on Tuesday and plans to be full go for the rest of minicamp. The three-time Pro Bowler said he "felt great" after surgery on his left meniscus ended his season early in 2020. "I felt great coming in, and I feel great now. I hope I continue on that phase into the next six-week phase and just keep getting stronger and faster for training camp," Clowney said. The 28-year-old pass-rusher played in just eight games for the Tennessee Titans and failed to record a sack. In 13 games for the Seattle Seahawks the year prior, Clowney managed just three sacks. The former No. 1 overall pick has played in just one full season in his seven years in the NFL, but he can be a game-wrecking force when healthy. If he can stay on the field in 2021, Cleveland's defense could be nasty.
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield said that wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (knee) looked "great" on Wednesday at mandatory minicamp. Beckham suffered a torn ACL in Week 7 last year and missed the rest of the 2020 season. "It looks really great," Mayfield said. "After seeing him run and really just talking to him, as well. He feels comfortable. He's still getting used to some of these cuts and certain motions. You're talking about seven months since the (knee) surgery, so it's pretty impressive how quickly he's come back." OBJ has become an injury risk in a run-first offense, so fantasy managers should no longer treat him as a top-15 wideout. But he's currently healthy and his price will be much lower this year, making him a fine high-end WR3 target.
Jacksonville Jaguars passing-game coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said the team hasn't settled on a starting quarterback despite taking Clemson star Trevor Lawrence No. 1 overall in this year's draft. Schottenheimer cautioned against assuming that Gardner Minshew II was entrenched as Lawrence's backup. The Jags also have C.J. Beathard and Jake Luton in the QB room. "We're letting them all roll. Everybody's getting reps. We want this thing to be really competitive. Ultimately, when we name a starter, we'll name a starter," Schottenheimer said. Lawrence, who was drafted to be the franchise QB, will most likely be the Week 1 starter, but he must first earn it this summer. While it's not technically official yet, the best bet is for Minshew to back up Lawrence from the get-go. With all the makings of a stud NFL QB, Lawrence will have some high-end QB2 upside in his rookie season.
Retired quarterback and future Hall of Famer Drew Brees took in the Los Angeles Chargers minicamp practice on Wednesday and was very impressed with second-year signal-caller Justin Herbert. "I think his physical tools are as good as anybody I've ever seen," Brees said. "By all accounts, he's a great worker. He's got great leadership qualities, he's got a lot of intangibles. So I think the sky's the limit for a guy like him." Herbert threw 31 touchdown passes, completed 396 passes and had eight 300-yard games last year, all rookie records. He also ran for 234 yards and five touchdowns while winning Offensive Rookie of the Year. The 23-year-old former sixth overall pick is learning a new offense under a new head coach and new offensive coordinator, but Brees is right, the sky is the limit for this kid. Herbert isn't quite an elite QB1, but he's a solid target as a midrange QB1 with upside for more in just his second season.
Minnesota Vikings DE Danielle Hunter (neck) is not practicing during the minicamp but said he feels 100 percent healthy. He said he is working his way back into football shape.
Buffalo Bills RB Matt Breida (undisclosed) did not participate in team drills during practice Wednesday, June 16.
Buffalo Bills WR Cole Beasley (leg) is participating in practices during minicamp this week. He played with a broken bone in his leg during the playoffs.
Fantasy Spin: Beasley has been a reliable receiver for the Bills over the last few seasons and will continue to work in the slot in 2021. He can be a No. 3 receiver or flex option for fantasy players this upcoming season.