ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — Sammy Watkins made quite the impression on the first day of Kansas City Chiefs training camp Thursday.
The veteran wide receiver is one of the newest options for first-year starting quarterback Patrick Mahomes II.
“The guy’s an unbelievable talent, he really is,” tight end Travis Kelce said of Watkins. “He’s a high-character guy. You can’t say anything wrong about him. It’s been exciting just to see him come out here and work because he’s such a great athlete and he makes you want to get better every single day.”
Mahomes and Watkins teamed up to elicit the biggest cheer of the day from fans.
The quarterback dropped a 60-yard pass on a breezy post route to Watkins, who hauled in the over-the-shoulder catch on the run for an easy score. Mahomes said he’s quickly developing a rapport on the field with the newcomer.
“He’s a guy that will stay after and get extra work, a guy that wants to put the work in to be great,” Mahomes said. “When you have guys like that all around our team, it’s easy to build chemistry and build that kind of deep ball or if it’s a short pass or whatever it is.”
Coach Andy Reid also praised the willingness of Watkins to push himself during practice, whether it’s running out routes where he’s a decoy or putting in extra reps.
“I love Sammy’s attitude and his work ethic,” Reid said. “He’s all business, he’s a quiet guy. He’s all business. I love the way he goes about, a true pro.”
For the first time in his career, Watkins comes into the season healthy and with a full offseason of work. That’s helping him acclimate to Reid’s West Coast offense playbook.
“I’ve gotten the plays down but, of course, we’ve got so much to build on with chemistry and working with the guys,” Watkins said. “The offense is so bright you can’t sleep on it, so everyday we’ve got to go over it and go over the installs.”
The offseason addition of Watkins figures to make the Kansas City offense a puzzle for defenses. The team returns three 1,000-yard performers from last season, including the league’s leading rusher in Kareem Hunt. Kelce and wide receiver Tyreek Hill topped the 1,000-yard mark in receiving.
Kelce, who is used to frequently facing double teams and bracket coverage, sees the addition of Watkins creating opportunities for everyone across the offense.
“I think we’re going to open everything up for each other,” Kelce said. “Pat’s got quite an arsenal to throw to.”
It also means a lot of players to keep happy, but Reid says the group possesses a desire to win that keeps egos in check.
“That’s what’s nice about having the guys we have, they all understand there’s one ball,” Reid said. “They all get it. Sammy went out and ran a couple of beautiful routes where he didn’t get the ball, but ran like he was going to get it. He didn’t pull off at all. That’s a great thing to have that kind of talent.”
The Chiefs open camp with just one injury issue impacting a projected starter. Inside linebacker Reggie Ragland started camp on the non-football injury list. He experienced a swollen knee following his flight to training camp. Reid does not believe the issue is a significant concern.
“He’s in great shape, we’re just going to let it calm down, precautionary measure, let it calm down and he’ll get back out,” Reid said. “I don’t think it’s anything to go crazy about.”
The Chiefs are relying on Ragland as a leader in the retooled starting defense that also includes cornerbacks Kendall Fuller and David Amerson, linebacker Anthony Hitchens and defensive tackle Xavier Williams.
Those changes on defense, along with the addition of Watkins and the promotion of Mahomes, put a smile on Reid’s face.
“We’ve got a lot of new faces in new places,” Reid said. “That part’s exciting. The ability to teach, that’s what we do. We got quite a little bit of teaching to do as we go here.”