Chiefs Monday training camp notebook: Damien Williams unfazed by committee talk

The Kansas City Chiefs officially named Damien Williams the “starting” running back on May 30. So what happened exactly?

I believe one of two things: Less likely — 1) The Chiefs only meant that he would be the first back to touch the football, or more likely — 2) Williams’ early camp injury meant opportunities for other backs, and the Chiefs have decided based upon that play, they deserve touches, too.

Whatever it was that took place, head coach Andy Reid went from calling Williams the “starter” to last week telling SiriusXM NFL Radio that the Chiefs would go running back-by-committee this season.

“I did a little bit of that when I was in Philadelphia, a kind of running back-by-committee deal and we had some success with it.” Reid said. “We’ll do that here (in Kansas City).

On Monday, it seemed like Williams took the news in stride.

“At the end of the day, I’m just going to do what I do every day—come in and compete,” he said. “That’s what I’m here for, that’s the job.”

Williams signed a two-year contract extension in late December of 2018, coming off four games of solid production since the Chiefs had released Kareem Hunt. Williams recorded a career-high 50 rushes for 256 yards and four touchdowns and tied a career-high in receptions with 23 for 160 yards and two touchdowns by the end of the seasons. He added four touchdowns in the playoffs, including three in the AFC title loss.

Knowing that he had finally earned a starting job after five seasons—which meant a bigger workload to come—Williams adjusted his offseason routine. In addition to working out a little harder, he altered his diet.

“I had to change my eating habits and I eat,” he said. “I had to actually do this thing where they draw your blood to tell you what’s actually necessary for you.”

Williams wound up finding out what is not necessary for him—spinach.

“I learned I’m allergic to spinach,” he laughed. “I can’t eat spinach, obviously. It’s cool just learning what you can and can’t eat and what I’ve been eating to where I’m thinking this is good, but it’s not good for my body type, so it’s just a little different.”

Bad luck struck when Williams injured his hamstring on day two of training camp, which cost him about two weeks and participation in the Chiefs’ first preseason game against the Bengals. During that time, the Chiefs turned to Carlos Hyde and Darrel Williams with the first team and rookie Darwin Thompson with the second team.

Damien, who didn’t play on Saturday night, was splitting top-team reps with Hyde and Darrel on Monday. But despite now having to share that job, Damien said he holds no ill will.

“At the end of the day, we are all here to compete,” he said. “No one is here to chill or feel like you’re safe. At the end of the day, for me, those are my guys. Those are the guys I’m in the room with every day, the guys I spend the most time with. Having them step in and take over those reps means a lot to me and them get to see it firsthand, and have that mentality of when someone is down, make sure those guys are ready.”

And now he believes he is ready—the hamstring is healed and ready to go.

“It feels a lot better,” he said. “You know, having that time off and having the training staff you know, take care of me and making it a priority for me get back out here. I feel great getting back out on the field.”

Observations

  • Training camp in St. Joseph started in the low-70s on Monday and eventually broke 80 degrees around the time Andy Reid was ready to take the podium after practice.
  • It was a big day for interceptions at Chiefs camp. Tyrann Mathieu recorded an interception off Chase Litton in one-on-ones (against Cody Thompson). Bashaud Breeland had two interceptions—both off Patrick Mahomes. Juan Thornhill also intercepted Mahomes in red-zone situational work during an apparent two-point conversion attempt. In case you’re wondering: no, Thornhill didn’t take it back for two points of his own.
  • The Chiefs thought that with a full offseason, Breeland could be a potential starter (and cheap Steve Nelson replacement) for them, and I find he is beginning to play like it. I’m eager to see how he does in a preseason game setting in which the Chiefs have their true pass rush in the game for extended snaps. Reid on Breeland: ”He’s playing good right now. I think he has a good feel for the defense. He’s always had good instincts. He’s a tough kid. That’s a good combination to have at corner. And then, he has that length. You saw where the coverage got botched in the game, and it wasn’t him, where the coverage got broken in the game, he was able to rally back just off of instincts and make a play that was a potential touchdown there to help out his teammate.”
  • Important point on Thornhill from Monday: this is the first practice in which I felt the Chiefs were running Thornhill as the starting free safety. Daniel Sorensen got some top-team reps, but Thornhill went out with the first team to start practice, and Sorensen also had reps with the second team. Reid has shown a tendency in the past to give veterans the benefit of the doubt to start camp, but I’d bet he doesn’t look back now. Thornhill had the great interception—and at one point, went stride-for-stride with Tyreek Hill into the end zone. All of the above were great signs for the rookie. Reid on Thornhill: “He’s been working in there (with the first team). He’s kind of rolling in and rotating in there. We’ll keep doing that. He got some good snaps the other day. We’ll just keep him coming. You’ve seen the skill that he has. He’s just been consistent and working through everything. The more he plays, the better he’s going to get.”
  • Despite all the picks, Demarcus Robinson had the play of the day with a one-handed grab in seven-on-seven. In my opinion, it was a flashy play on a day Robinson needed it, as I believe Mecole Hardman is starting to press for more snaps already with that 17-yard shovel pass touchdown on Saturday night.
  • I asked Reid about Hardman being a little further along than Hill was back when he was a rookie in 2016: “He played the position more than what Hill did. Hill came in more as a running back/wide receiver. Both of them are real smart kids, though. We were able to accelerate Tyreek and get him going fast just because he was so smart. It’s the same way with Mecole. He’s a smart kid. We’ve given him quite a few things to do there.”
  • Morris Claiborne worked a little with the second team, though no team scrimmage periods. Reid does not expect Claiborne to play on Saturday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
  • It was good to see defensive end Frank Clark back in the mix — his sore wrist had begun to feel concerning.

Injury report

It turns out that cornerback D’Montre Wade injured his knee during the Chiefs’ preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Wade and four other Chiefs missed practice to start the week. Here is our full injury report from Monday.

Tweets of note

Quote of the day

Chiefs cornerback Mo Claiborne on whether he knew his college teammate (2010-11) Tyrann Mathieu would have the success and career he’s had in the NFL: “From the first time he walked on campus, he’s been that same person, and he hasn’t slowed down yet, and I don’t expect him to.”

What’s next?

The Chiefs resume practice on Tuesday at 8:15 a.m. Arrowhead Time. The Chiefs’ assistant coaches will speak to the media, and tight ends and wide receivers will sign autographs after practice.

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Author:

Pete Sweeney
DistinctAthlete.com is an entertaining sports site. The site specializes in viral sports content. Content includes controversial and original opinions, news stories, off-beat stories, humorous videos, entertaining photos, exclusive interviews, and witty banter between the writers and commenters. Distinct Athlete was launched in May of 2012 and has been featured and/or cited on several prominent sports sites.

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