Injuries mounting as Chiefs press on with padded practices
Injuries are beginning to mount for the Kansas City Chiefs just a few days into padded practices at training camp.
Already with holes at cornerback, the Chiefs are down three promising options after Alex Brown tore his ACL on Saturday and Lavert Hill and Antonio Hamilton were held out Sunday. Hamilton has a groin strain and Hill a hamstring injury.
Two other crucial pieces to their Super Bowl run last season are also out. Left tackle Eric Fisher sustained a concussion and is going through the league's protocol, while wide receiver Sammy Watkins has been slowed by a groin strain.
"The soft tissue (injuries) are the same as it is every year," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. "You get into that third and fourth practice and guys are sore, normally in the groin area. That's how it works. So we're still dealing with that now, and it's right about the same number as we have every year, so it hasn't been anything crazy."
One of the big concerns among players after missing summer workouts because of the coronavirus pandemic was the risk of injuries early in training camp. That is a big reason why their union negotiated with the NFL to cancel preseason games and implement a slow ramp-up period where players can become more accustomed to game speed before the season.
"We try to keep it as fast as we can so you get some form of evaluation of the guys," Reid said. "You don't have that game part of it, but you're not going to be able to get that either. But you know, how we do practice and how fast we go, you see how guys compete. There's enough competition on both sides."
The Chiefs will step back after three consecutive days in pads with a lighter, high-tempo workout on Monday.
While the number of injuries may be the same as a regular training camp, the fact that three have occurred to defensive backs competing for a roster spot is a concern. The Chiefs lost nickel back Kendall Fuller to the Washington Redskins in free agency, and cornerback Bashaud Breeland is facing a potential suspension from the NFL due to off-the-field issues.
That leaves the Chiefs with burgeoning star Charvarius Ward and a bunch of relative unknowns. Hamilton was a special teams ace that the Chiefs signed away from the New York Giants, Rashad Fenton played sparingly last season but has earned rave reviews from the coaching staff, and L'Jarius Sneed and Bopete Keyes – who is on the PUP list because of a broken orbital bone – were picked up in the April draft.
It helps their cause at cornerback that safety Tyrann Mathieu is back after the best season of his career, and free safety Juan Thornhill will be running alongside him after missing the Chiefs' playoff run with a torn ligament in his knee.
"When you have the Honey Badger out there yelling and screaming and flying around the field, Frank Clark doing the same, Chris Jones – we're going the best against the best right here at our practices," Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes said. "I promise you we're going hard every single rep, and there's a lot of passion out there on the field."