Andy Reid reveals his quarterback plan for Saturday’s preseason game
The reigning NFL MVP will play one quarter Saturday night.
After that, it’s all about the reserves.
Patrick Mahomes will get things started for the Chiefs against Cincinnati in the preseason opener for both teams at Arrowhead Stadium. Chad Henne will play the second quarter, Kyle Shurmur will take the third and last year’s practice-squad quarterback, Chase Litton, will play the fourth.
The other positions’ playing time will largely mirror that of the quarterbacks’. While the preseason game against the Bengals is Mahomes’ first opportunity to play at Arrowhead since the Chiefs’ AFC Championship Game loss to the New England Patriots in overtime, the focus — at least for the coaching staff — will be on evaluating less-proven players as they fight for coveted roster spots.
To do that effectively, Reid and his coaching staff haven’t been focused on specifically planning for the Bengals. Instead, they’re forming their game plan around well-practiced aspects of the playbook meant to put new players in the best position possible for evaluation.
“The main thing is that we get some of the young guys some playing time,” Reid said. “You normally cut down the game plan a little bit for this. Just take some of the simpler plays, the easier plays that you’ve run during camp, and let them go out and play.”
A year ago, Mahomes spent the preseason figuring out how navigate Reid’s offense with a limited selection of plays. Now, he knows what to do within the narrow parameters given to him by Reid for the team’s four dress rehearsals for the regular season.
“Last year, it was a little bit newer to me going out there and trying to figure out what we’re doing with limited plays and still trying to be productive,” Mahomes said. “But now, you have that full understanding of how to have success and how to take what’s there. Knowing that you may not have your full playbook at disposal, but you can go out there and still have success on the field.”
Just because Reid is watering down his offense doesn’t mean Mahomes is going to spice things up on his own with no-look and behind-the-back passes.
But there’s always the possibility he could try a few new things.
“I usually try a lot of things anyways,” he said. “It’s a simplified game plan, of course. We are going to run what we run.
“My goal is to go out there, have a successful time out there and just go out there and just keep playing and keep trying to score as many times that I can.”
For rookies like safety Juan Thornhill and wide receiver Mecole Hardman, Saturday night will be crucial for measuring their growth against another team after weeks of practicing against teammates.
“Just getting under the lights is going to be big,” Mahomes said of Hardman. “Just being out there at Arrowhead, I know his juices are going to be flowing. All of ours are. Just being able to let him settle in there and go out there and make plays, he’s a guy who has a ton of talent.
“He’s been making plays all of training camp. For him to just go out there at Arrowhead, feel what it’s like to sort of be out there in a home game and go out there and play well.”
Defgensive linemen Emmanuel Ogbah and Frank Clark both returned to practice on Thursday, but Clark left early. He stopped to sign autographs for fans at the top of the hill, even taking off his cleats and signing them for a fan. Neither wide receiver Gehrig Dieter (back) nor defensive end Alex Okafor (hip) practiced.
The Chiefs added a defensive end before Thursday’s practice, signing Hunter Dimick. The Utah product signed Reserve/Future contracts with both Jacksonville and Tampa Bay before being cut by both teams in the last two seasons. Dimick was added to give the position depth with Clark, Ogbah and Alex Okafor all working back from minor injuries.
Cornerback Keith Reaser was officially off the roster Thursday morning. After practice, the Chiefs made a crucial depth signing by adding veteran cornerback Mo Claiborne. He was expected to arrive in Kansas City Thursday night.
Bashuad Breeland picked off Patrick Mahomes as the quarterback threw to Tyreek Hill in double coverage. He left the pass short and Breeland intercepted it during a two-minute drill at the beginning of practice.
Breeland Speaks showed his versatility on the defensive line, lining up beside Chris Jones at nose tackle while Tanoh Kpassagnon and Ogbah were practicing at defensive end with the first-string defense.
Though defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said he doesn’t typically start rookies, safety Juan Thornhill is surging in training camp. He’s been on the field with the first-string defense in three-safety packages, but Thursday, he was on the field at free safety in a two-safety set.