The Kansas City Chiefs’ young offensive stars started their NFL careers off strong, as rookie wideout Mecole Hardman and running back Darwin Thompson both found the endzone in Saturday night’s preseason opener en route to a victory and impressive debuts over the Cincinnati Bengals.
Hardman and Thompson both got a chance to prove themselves in the second offensive series of the night, as the starters were pulled after the first series. In his first NFL game, Hardman wasted no time to live up to the high expectations with his first career catch being a 17-yard touchdown reception.
“It was great, first catch and get it right,” Hardman said. “Trying to get all the butterflies out and everything, it was fun. I was trying to go out there and play fast and do what I had to do.”
Hardman finished the night early after just three offensive series, but he finished with two receptions for 31 yards, a receiving touchdown and one kick return for 44 yards.
“It went good man, got my feet wet. I got used to the game and how it was going. I had a good time and I’ll keep going forward,” Hardman said.
While Hardman had a pretty impressive Chiefs debut, he was also happy to see the others players stepping up as well.
“I love seeing all of them boys play and seeing how hard we worked through training camp. To actually have an opponent on the field and actually have a game with other people, it’s fun to watch. Hopefully they do great throughout this preseason,” Hardman said.
Running back Darwin Thompson also had an impressive debut, while he entered the game with a chip on his shoulder. Thompson wasn’t a huge name in the 2019 NFL Draft Class, as he is slightly undersized and was the 214th overall pick in the sixth round.
“I proved a little bit,” Thompson said. “I proved that 5-foot-8, 195 (pounds) can play in the NFL. I can break tackles and I can do the same things I did in college. Let me build on top of that. That’s not the best of me, I’m going to keep getting better every day.”
Thompson finished his preseason debut with five carries for 22 yards, one reception for 29 yards and a receiving touchdown. The third quarter touchdown reception was a big moment for Thompson and will not likely forget it any time soon.
“It was crazy. I didn’t know it was coming to me, but as soon as I broke off the linebacker, I’m like, ‘OK, this ball is coming to me.’ So, I put my hands up, and it was in slow motion, and my eyes just got big. As soon as I caught it, I was like, ‘Get loose now. Just start running as fast as you can.’ I should have gotten vertical, but I scored,” Thompson said.
While Thompson has played plenty of football games over the years, the high level of play has never been as big as his first NFL game. It took him some time to get into rhythm, but as the night progressed, he was able to settle in.
“When I first came in, I just wanted to run into something. I was like, ‘Let me get that feeling out of the way, that nerve out of the way.’ As things went on, it got a little easier. I got into my groove, like my rhythm. I dropped a ball before that one, and that one should have been a touchdown as well, but I dropped the ball. I knew that the next time the ball came to me, I have to score,” Thompson said.
With training camp wrapping up this week and the regular season being right around the corner, Hardman and Thompson are looking to keep up the hard work and contribute to the juggernaut of an offense that Kansas City already has.