As the Kansas City Chiefs continue on up to Week 1, there is more behind the scenes than preparing week-in and week-out for gameplans.
General manager Brett Veach, head coach Andy Reid and the scouting department will evaluate the roster and prepare to cut the team down to 53 players ahead of the August 31 deadline.
As the Chiefs broke training camp in St. Joseph on Thursday after three weeks of grinding practices, the team’s staff was already well into prepping for making those tough decisions.
“Early on when we started training camp, we had dialogue before we took a snap in full pads that there’s gonna be a lot of tough decisions to be made,” Veach said in an interview during the broadcast of Saturday’s preseason game. “It will come down to the special teams play and what they can do from a versatility and special teams contribution.”
The toughest decisions appear to be at tight end and wide receiver for this group, as the Chiefs see three players capable of backing up Travis Kelce and a multitude of players vying for the final two wideout positions.
While special teams will play a big factor, Veach hasn’t hid his love for speed on the offensive side of the ball.
“It’s something you have to make a priority and stick to it. We kinda stuck to that mentality,” Veach said. “Anytime we can get speed on the offensive side and in the defensive backend, we’ll pursue that.”
As the Chiefs look for hidden gems in the offseason away from the draft, they feel they have succeeded on multiple occasions. The organization brought in undrafted free agent Ben Niemann at linebacker last season, and he proved to be one of the team’s top special team’s assets.
“Ben’s super smart and when you get to the stage of final roster cuts, you look for guys who can play special teams, and we take a lot of pride in that,” Veach said. “He was a guy who stood out for us.”
Veach is also high on a number of rookies including Herb Miller, who recorded a forced fumble Saturday to go with his interception in Week 1.
“I think Herb’s done a nice job, and some of the offensive linemen we have have done a nice job,” Veach said. “As we move onto that fourth game, they’ll get to showcase for four quarters and that’s where we’ll really dial in on the special teams production they have.”
As rookie safety Juan Thornhill continues to get more reps with the No. 1 defense, Veach isn’t surprised to see him take advantage of the opportunity.
“He’s a guy with tremendous instincts who’s really smart and has caught onto the scheme really well and is getting some extended time here with the first team, which is great to see,” Veach said. “He’s kinda came on right away and picked things up right away. At training camp, it seems like he’s making a play every day.”
As newly acquired defensive end described the defense’s mindset during the broadcast, it seems easy to see Thornhill fitting the mold.
“We’re fierce and competitive, come with a whole different kind of swagger,” Clark said. “Everything comes together, and that’s when you start to become a team. It’s all starting to come together.”