KC Chiefs’ Mecole Hardman, Chris Jones leave Wednesday’s camp practice with injuries
Until Wednesday, the Chiefs had gone through 15 days of training camp practices without any notable injuries.
But on the 16th day of camp, wide receiver Mecole Hardman and defensive tackle Chris Jones both left the practice field at Missouri Western State University with injuries.
The Chiefs later announced that Hardman had suffered a groin injury, while Jones was dealing with a sore back.
Hardman’s injury occurred during 11-on-11 drills midway through the morning on-field work session. He was observed limping to the sideline under the watchful eye of a concerned Patrick Mahomes, who walked with Hardman. Head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder then came over and escorted Hardman to the medical tent, where team staff appeared to be looking at his lower left leg.
After spending a few minutes in the tent, Hardman exited without his helmet and attempted to walk it off. Chiefs general manager Brett Veach and coach Andy Reid came over and shared words with Hardman, who then got in the passenger seat of a cart and was taken up the hill to the locker room.
The severity of Hardman’s injury is unknown.
The Chiefs were already practicing without wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, who has missed two days with a sore knee, but offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy indicated the Chiefs are solid depth-wise at receiver.
“Just like any other position, the next man has to perform,” Bieniemy said. “This gives our receivers coach, Joe Bleymaier, all that stuff that he’s been doing in that receiver room and all the drills that he’s done. Now it’s time for the younger guys to step up.”
If Hardman misses time and Smith-Schuster isn’t fully recovered right away, the Chiefs still have plenty of options at wide receiver — including Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Daurice Fountain, Justin Watson, Cornell Powell, Corey Coleman and rookie Skyy Moore.
“This is an opportunity for someone else to show that they can play, that they can perform under pressure, but also maximize the opportunity,” Bieniemy said. “So, not nervous at all. Obviously, you want guys to always stay healthy, but this gives a number of guys an opportunity to go up there and step up.”
As for Jones, the three-time Pro Bowler left less than 15 minutes after arriving for the stretching and conditioning portion of practice. Jones also rode up the hill in the passenger seat of the cart.
The Chiefs worked in Tershawn Wharton and Khalen Saunders in Jones’ place alongside Derrick Nnadi.
Running back Jerick McKinnon (hamstring), tight end Blake Bell (hip flexor) and long-snapper James Winchester (excused for personal reasons) were not on the practice field Wednesday.
Tackle Lucas Niang (knee) remains on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list.
Punter Tommy Townsend returned to practice after being excused the past two days for personal reasons.
Defensive tackle Danny Shelton continues to stand out as a disruptive force even with limited repetitions during his acclimation process. With the Chiefs in 9-on-7 drills, which focus on the run, the newly signed veteran free agent plugged the A-gap and stuffed running back Derrick Gore in the hole. The smacking of pads carried from the field into the stands, and Shelton dropped Gore for a loss.
Cornerback Rashad Fenton picked off quarterback Patrick Mahomes during team drills and ran it back for what would have been a touchdown in a game situation.
Fenton’s recent return to practice after spending some time on the PUP list has stabilized the cornerbacks group. The Chiefs have leaned on Fenton, L’Jarius Sneed and rookie Trent McDuffie as starters in the nickel package, with Sneed in the slot. Sneed and McDuffie are on the field as the outside cornerbacks in the team’s 4-3 base defense.
Safety Juan Thornhill recorded a nice pass breakup against tight end Jody Fortson during 7-on-7 drills. Mahomes attempted to squeeze in a pass to Fortson, who ran an underneath crossing route, but Thornhill read it perfectly and got his arm in front of Fortson to knock away the football.
Fourth-string quarterback Dustin Crum typically gets one or two snaps during team drills, but he made the most of one of them during 7-on-7 work Wednesday. Crum took the snap and launched a deep pass to running back/wide receiver Jerrion Ealy, who then ran unopposed to the end zone after splitting the safeties.