In an otherwise dull preseason tilt in Pittsburgh, the young crop of Kansas City Chiefs continues to impress and show how difficult the front office’s job of trimming the roster will be.
Enough is said of second-round receiver Mecole Hardman, who showed his blazing speed again Saturday on his way to his second touchdown in as many games. The Georgia product appears on his way for being a top-three wideout in a potent Chiefs offense.
The same can be said for his rookie offensive mate in Darwin Thompson, who averaged 7.5 yards on his four carries against the Steelers. He totaled 30 yards with a long of 14.
In the team’s preseason opener, Thompson rushed five times for 22 yards to go with a 29-yard catch-and-run score.
“He’s doing a nice job,” coach Andy Reid said in a teleconference Sunday. “He’s able to see the blitz, which is a big thing for the young guys. He has good vision in the run game.
“Then, he has a pretty good understanding of the pass game. He’s really a focused kid. He’s kind of a no-nonsense (guy). He wants to do it right, is real focused, studies a lot. I like the way he’s made up in that way.”
For a sixth-round pick listed at 5-foot-8, Thompson has appeared ahead of the curve since early in OTAs. He excelled at training camp, and his position coach sees more to his game than speed and breaking tackles.
“His pass protection is good,” running back coach Deland McCullough said during training camp. “The guys is strong. He’s got a great base. He’s got some stature issues, but once he gets up inside, that’s where his strengths are. Once he gets his hands on you, he’ll squat down on you and anchor down to stop a guy from getting to the quarterback.”
On the defensive side, safety Juan Thornhill continues to show he’s ready to break into the starting lineup as a rookie. Though he tallied just three tackles and a pass breakup, he was on the field from the second series through the third quarter.
Thus far, Thornhill hasn’t missed a tackle or allowed a long completion through two games.
“Since we’ve been playing against the best offense in the NFL every single day, I feel like the game is actually kind of slow for me,” Thornhill said. “It doesn’t seem as fast, so that’s going to allow me to make more plays. I just need more opportunities to make those plays.”
A surprise fall to 63rd in the draft out of Virginia, Thornhill even drew praise from his general manager during the broadcast of Saturday’s contest.
“Juan is a guy with a corner’s skill set,” Veach said. “There’s certainly a need for those types of guys in this league with all of the passing offenses. He’s a guy with tremendous instincts. He’s another guy that’s really smart, and he’s caught onto this scheme really well. He’s getting some extended time early on here with the first unit, which is great to see. He has kind of come on right away and picked things up quickly.”
With training camp in the rearview, the team will return to the facility for practice ahead of a Week 3 preseason date at home with the San Francisco 49ers as they get back on a normal schedule and start replicating the regular season.
“”You practice in the afternoon as opposed to morning and you set your schedule up where it is a dry run, not that you are going to increase plays because you are not, but you still keep it vanilla and go through the process as you would in a regular week,” Reid said. “Now will we keep installing stuff, yes, we will keep installing new stuff, that is what we do.
“We kind of blend it all together, but the main schedule is what they see during the regular season.”
The Chiefs will host the 49ers at 7 p.m. Saturday at Arrowhead Stadium.