Sometimes, the unsung heroes fly under the radar in a team sport like football.
After all, with 53 players on a roster, it can be easy to focus on the flashy positions like quarterback or wide receiver and overlook the gritty areas of the game. It’s those exact areas where this game is won and lost most times and the Kansas City Chiefs are well aware of that.
Sure, KC has had Patrick Mahomes II and its fair share of star power over the years but there’s rarely a bottom-tier offensive line in front of him. When their blocking unit broke down at the tail-end of the 2020 Super Bowl bid, the Chiefs’ front office wasted no time rebuilding it that offseason with free-agent spending and draft capital.
Needless to say, they nailed it — and now Kansas City flaunts one of the most reliable interior offensive lines in the NFL.
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Chiefs IOL Runs Like a Well-Oiled Machine
A lot of things have changed at Chiefs training camp since last summer but one thing looks exactly the same, the dominance of the KC interior blocking trio.
“During OL vs. DL drills, I thought the OL did a very nice job handling the stunts being dealt by DL coach Joe Cullen,” reported Arrowhead Pride’s Pete Sweeney on August 11. “The starting interior of [Joe] Thuney-[Creed] Humphrey-[Trey] Smith is just so rock solid for this team. I noticed DL Kehinde Oginni Hassan get a little feisty after a rep.”
That’s how this group has been all camp, and no, it should not surprise you.
Thuney — a six-year veteran of this league and two-time Super Bowl champion with the New England Patriots — is the ironman leader that has never missed an NFL start. His presence and savvy have no doubt rubbed off on the two promising young men who have mirrored his efficiency since the 2021 draft.
Humphrey, a highly-touted second-round pick who could have gone round one, and Smith, a sixth-round steal that fell due to a medical condition. The combined trio did not miss a single game on the offensive line together last season.
The average of their joint Pro Football Focus grade also came out to 81.4 overall, with a 77.6 in pass protection and a 79.9 in the run game.
Going one step further, the three blockers complimented each other well. While Thuney was the best pass-blocker of the IOL, the two rookies outperformed him in boosting the rushing attack. Humphrey was the most well-rounded of the integral trio with a team-leading 91.4 grade.
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One v. One Highlights From Camp
Sweeney detailed a few more “standouts” from the one-on-one period of practice on August 11.
On the defensive line, rookie George Karlaftis impressed the knowledgeable reporter once again. Joining him on the podium for the day were defensive end Mike Danna and D-tackle Tershawn Wharton.
Sweeney also noted the pass-catcher vs. defensive back reps.
“[Rashad] Fenton had a PBU [pass breakup] on a rep vs. [Skyy] Moore,” he voiced. “DB Brandon Dandridge had a PBU on a rep against WR Corey Coleman. Joshua Williams intercepted a pass intended for Justin Watson.”
Finally, Sweeney ended with two intriguing observations: “WR Mecole Hardman looks improved with his route-running, he looked impressive against [L’Jarius] Sneed. TE Travis Kelce against S Justin Reid is just so fun to watch. Reid blanketed Kelce on one rep but the TE fought him off to bring it in.”