ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Kansas City Chiefs training camp at Missouri Western State University:
There was a sense of gloom as safety Eric Berry headed into the sideline medical tent toward the end of practice. Turned out Berry only has a dislocated finger, which appears to be the small finger on his right hand. Berry may miss a few days of practice or none at all. Either way, it’s not a long-term injury. Still, the scare they received when Berry headed off the practice field highlights just how little depth the Chiefs have at safety. They already moved one of last season’s backups, Husain Abdullah, into the starting lineup next to Berry. Backup Sanders Commings has yet to practice because of a strained foot and missed most of his rookie season last year with a variety of injuries. Otherwise, the other safeties are those cast off by other teams or developmental prospects. The Chiefs must keep their eye on the waiver wire over the next few weeks in search of a safety capable of helping out. Junior Hemingway, one of the top slot receiver candidates, left practice early with a sore hamstring.
The Chiefs worked in pads for the first time at training camp. They did little in the way of live tackling, but nickel back Chris Owens had the hit of the day when he sent running back Knile Davis flying at the end of a run. “The execution went back and forth [between] the offense and the defense,’’ coach Andy Reid said. “There were some good snaps both ways and that’s what you’re looking for. We had some good competition.’’
Starting cornerback Sean Smith continues to work with the second team. Smith was a starter last season but for the time being, at least, he’s behind Marcus Cooper and Ron Parker. The Chiefs are gambling if they go into the season with Cooper, who struggled at times last year as a rookie, and Parker, a journeyman. They need Smith’s ability and experience. “We look at Sean as a first-team player,’’ Reid said. “We need all those guys. We need two deep at the corner where we feel like that two deep is equivalent to starting players.’’ Reid indicated Smith’s demotion had nothing to do with his recent arrest for DUI. “That’s a football [decision],’’ he said.
Reid said tight end Sean McGrath is indeed retiring. McGrath led an injury-depleted group of Chiefs’ tight ends in catches last season with 26. But the Chiefs are counting on a full season from starter Anthony Fasano and young backups Travis Kelce and Demetrius Harris so McGrath might not have made the team anyway. But the Chiefs now lack a capable reserve in case of injury to one of the other three.
The Chiefs are rotating Rishaw Johnson and rookie Zach Fulton at right guard in their effort to identify a starter. Both players are interesting candidates. Johnson showed well in his only start last season while Fulton has proved to be advanced for a sixth-round pick.