Why Chiefs coach Andy Reid runs NFL’s hardest training camp: ‘He’s not going to change his ways’

Why Chiefs coach Andy Reid runs NFL’s hardest training camp: ‘He’s not going to change his methods’

St. JOSEPH, Mo. — Within the NFL, gone are the times of grueling two-a-day practices, when gamers spent simply as a lot time outdoors within the warmth as they did in conferences and movie classes. This 12 months, 25 groups opted to forgo a standard training camp, selecting to keep residence — at apply services, residence stadiums or websites inside 10 miles of headquarters.

The Kansas Metropolis Chiefs are an exception, one among simply 5 groups that performed camp on a university campus. Everybody within the Chiefs group — gamers, coaches and executives — is aware of that so long as Andy Reid is their coach, the workforce will at all times begin camp at Missouri Western State, or not less than some faculty.

“I really like being up right here,” Reid mentioned final month. “I look ahead to it.”

Gamers agree that Reid, a future Corridor of Famer at age 65, runs the league’s most tough camp. Since 2013, when he joined Kansas Metropolis after 13 years in Philadelphia, veteran Chiefs gamers have tried their greatest to warn rookies and different newcomers about Camp Reid’s rigorous, old-school fashion.



The combating Chiefs are going at it in training camp. Is {that a} good factor?

“How onerous may it’s?” new left sort out Donovan Smith requested by means of a smile in June.

9 weeks later, Smith was nonetheless smiling, however he acknowledged his teammates had been proper: “It’s positively an adjustment right here. We positively work our tails off.”

With out fail yearly, a lot of these new gamers, drenched in sweat and close to excessive exhaustion, ask a model of the identical query: Why does Reid make camp this difficult? The solutions come by means of expertise.

Matt Nagy, offensive coordinator (seventh camp tour): I’ve heard the warfare tales of that 1999 camp, Coach’s first 12 months in Philadelphia, from guys like (Eric Bieniemy), Doug Pederson and Brad Childress. I’ve heard there’s by no means been a camp within the historical past of the NFL that’s been as onerous as that camp. I believe Coach sort of favored that.

Khalen Saunders, former defensive sort out (4 excursions): The very first thing that comes to thoughts is precision and no wasted reps.

Nagy: When (Bienemy) talks about how onerous one thing is, you already know it’s onerous.

Donovan Smith (first tour): Quite a lot of performs. We run a number of performs.

Saunders: You’re getting, like, 200 performs a day — and that’s two video games value.

Blaine Gabbert, quarterback (first tour): It’s an old-school technique. It’s refreshing. It’s easy.

Richie James, receiver (first tour): As a receiver, it’s brutal, for positive. You run so much.

Connor Embree, receivers coach (fifth tour): There’s no straightforward days. It’s not like different locations across the league, the place you could be a 10-year vet and get a break day right here and there. In case you’re wholesome, you’re going — and we’re going long and hard.

Drue Tranquill, linebacker (first tour): It’s so much harder than the earlier 4 camps I’ve been part of, for positive. He maximizes each minute of on-field time. The CBA says we get 4 hours (every day), we’re going to be on the sector for precisely 4 hours.

Mitchell Schwartz, former proper sort out (4 excursions): He has the reps simply usually arrange a bit totally different. The primary week or two of camp, most coaches have reps extra evenly spaced out. He simply begins immediately — those are getting eight reps, the twos are getting 4 or 5 reps and the threes are getting two reps. That catches folks’s eyes.

Justin Reid, security (second tour): I got here in ready this 12 months. Final 12 months, that first week or two, was simply very quick. It’s mentally difficult. The practices are manner quicker than any of the video games ever are.

Tranquill: He grinds you. Typically you simply really feel like a turtle strolling off the sector.

Nagy: Final 12 months, (former receiver) JuJu (Smith-Schuster) was laying on the turf within the indoor subject and tweeted out, “That’s the hardest apply I’ve ever had.” I used to be like, “Dude, that’s, like, nothing in contrast to what you’re about to stroll into.”

Dave Toub, particular groups coordinator (thirteenth tour): He’s not going to change his methods. You possibly can’t knock it, his success.

Mike DeVito, former defensive finish (three excursions): He’s accounted for every little thing. In 2013, after I acquired there, I knew immediately we had been going to win. I may see how systematic he was. All the things had a objective.

Mark Donovan, workforce president (sixteenth tour): The method brings him pleasure.

Tranquill: That image of the Tremendous Bowl ring is at the beginning of each single slide of each presentation.

Donovan: With the uniform stuff, you tuck your jersey, there’s no initials, no triple names. You go to nearly every other workforce, it’s like, “If the man needs one thing on his jersey, simply give it to them to maintain them glad.” That’s not how we do issues.

DeVito: One in every of his guidelines is you can not put your helmet on the bottom. You’ve gotten to maintain your helmet in your hand. I used to be like, “That simply appears so arbitrary.” Then, you discovered there was a time in Philly when one among his beginning receivers ran a route, went out of bounds and tripped over a helmet and missed video games due to it.

Donovan: The primary 12 months, earlier than the gamers got here in, he walked across the subject. He goes, “Are you able to come down?” I come down. He goes, “Are you able to have a look at our objective put up?” I look out. He goes, “Are you able to think about a participant coming in right here and seeing the chipped paint on that objective put up? How does that replicate on our workforce, our group?” I’m like, “Obtained it, let’s go paint the objective posts.” He needs the gamers to know they’re in a first-class group.

(Jamie Squire / Getty Photographs)

Patrick Mahomes, quarterback (sixth tour): You’ll by no means know when Coach Reid throws these curveballs. My first 12 months we went into the set up (interval). I knew the performs, however I acquired up there, and Coach Reid informed Nagy, “Name the play however don’t inform him the formation.” He needed me to have the ability to rattle off the formation. It simply shocked me. I knew them, however my thoughts simply went fully clean. Ever since then, I’ve at all times identified the formations.

Travis Kelce, tight finish (tenth tour): It’s not a simple factor to get a bunch of grown males to keep disciplined. The welcome-to-the-league second with Coach Reid was simply that eyebrow he offers you, man. You’re like, “All proper, I higher decide it up.”

Donovan: Travis is the man that’s like, “That (route) received’t fly with Andy. Do it this manner.”

Marquez Valdes-Scantling, receiver (second tour): Coach Reid doesn’t have a number of emotion. In case you do get some emotion out of him, it’s a kind of, “Oooh, I’d’ve tousled, for actual.” I’ve gotten that. It was within the assembly room. It’s not a superb feeling.

Schwartz: If he has to criticize you, even in a workforce setting the place he’s displaying performs the place he has to criticize somebody, he’s doing it to educate one thing to the group.

Saunders: It’s mind-blowing how he says the very same issues, virtually like a tape recorder. Then he’s acquired his catchphrases, the “son-of-a-buck,” “son-on-a-gun” and “doggone it.” We will in all probability put a cash line on which one he’s going to say within the assembly.

Donovan: One in every of issues that’s actually highly effective about him is (his) father determine (standing). You need to do proper by your father. When your dad offers you a glance, you go, “OK.” I’ve skilled it. For the gamers, they simply need to do proper by him.

A few of the most demanding components of Reid’s camps are the “lengthy drive” workforce intervals, which happen as soon as the novelty of camp has worn off and with the primary preseason sport nonetheless a number of days away. The projected starters will be on the sector for as many as 20 repetitions in lower than quarter-hour.

Jeff Allen, former offensive lineman (4 excursions): My favourite day in camp was at all times Day 1 of pads. After that, I simply needed to fast-forward to the season.

Valdes-Scantling: The long-drive drill sucks. It’s going to suck each time we do it — and we do it fairly a bit.

Schwartz: It’s positively bizarre. It’s one of many solely intervals in apply that feels considerably real looking.

Saunders: It’s a kind of issues the place you’re like, “When am I ever going to be in a 17-play drive?” You would possibly by no means see it. However you would possibly see a 10-play drive. In case you’re prepared for one more seven extra performs, that’s why you do it.

Justin Reid: By the point you’re executed working the play, the following ball is already noticed.

Trey Smith, proper guard (third tour): That’s the place, in my thoughts, I am going into a unique place and check out to get to know myself. I do know it sounds loopy, simply verbalizing it. It differentiates your self, particularly on the finish of the season. You’ve gotten to actually discover who you’re as a person.

DeVito: You’ve gotten to get into that nearly zombie temper the place you’re simply attempting to survive. These shared experiences, while you’re struggling collectively, is why you go away for camp.

Donovan: I used to be on the sideline final 12 months. These receivers get fully gassed. Marquez (Valdes-Scantling) got here to the sideline and went down.

Valdes-Scantling: I used to be annoyed, like, “Why are we doing this silly sh–?”

Donovan: (Former receiver) Mecole (Hardman) went up to him and goes, “Dude, I do know what you’re feeling! You’ve gotten to stand up! You’ve gotten to do that!” I used to be like, “Rattling!”

George Karlaftis, defensive finish (second tour): You’re feeling ready for that first sport.

Trent McDuffie, cornerback (second tour): Being in an uncomfortable way of thinking actually helps you, particularly on the finish of the season if you end up drained and it’s chilly.

Mahomes: You’re considering the whole time. That places as a lot stress on you because the bodily toll. He needs to be sure to’re paying consideration to the littlest particulars. He’ll ask you: “What’s the down and distance on that final play?” You’re like, “Man, we’ve ran eight performs in a row; I don’t know.” It’s like second-and-7, and also you’re not even enthusiastic about it. You’re enthusiastic about the play and getting all people lined up. He’ll ask you: ‘How a lot time was left on the play clock earlier than you snapped it?” He needs to be sure to’re seeing every little thing the whole time, so while you get to the sport, it’s straightforward.

Keondre Coburn, defensive sort out (first tour): It’s training your mindset to be prepared at any second since you by no means know what’s going to occur in a sport, (when) you received’t have the ability to get a sub — and you bought to play. I adore it. I see why they’ve (the Chiefs) been nice all these years.

Valdes-Scantling: We’re within the Chargers sport (final November), and we’ve acquired to go 75 yards (within the remaining two minutes) and rating a landing. We go down the sector (in simply six performs) to win the sport. These are the kind of moments that the long-drive drill prepares you for.

Tranquill: There’s one thing in us, as human beings, after we do onerous issues and put that in our reservoir. It’s about constructing this basis in order that after we’re in Jacksonville in Week 2, and it’s 90 levels and 80 % humidity, we’re ready to draw from that properly of inauspicious circumstances.

Saunders: Towards the Titans (final November), after we acquired into additional time, I felt about as recent as I may. I acquired a pair stops on Derrick Henry and acquired a sack. That was in all probability my greatest sport. That was a time after I was like, “Wow, I’m not drained.”

Schwartz: Whenever you see that backup defensive sort out — who, you’re like, “Rattling, I actually like this man; he’s superior, he offers me attractiveness and we’ve a superb rapport” — will get in on a vital third down in a sport and he will get a sack, you’re extra pumped than you ordinarily could be as a result of you have got this cool relationship of getting gone (towards each other) a lot in camp.

In a rising pattern, 27 groups have scheduled joint practices with one other workforce this 12 months. 13 will apply towards a number of opponents. Beneath Reid, the Chiefs have by no means participated in a joint apply.

Saunders: We’re simply hitting one another for two-and-a-half weeks.

Schwartz: Coaches prefer it as a result of they assume it breaks up the monotony of camp and leads to a unique degree of emotional state. Most gamers will inform you they hate joint practices. (Reid) trusts us to do the work towards one another.

Valdes-Scantling: The hardest half, clearly, is sleeping in a dorm room while you’ve acquired a Sleep Quantity mattress at residence.

James: It makes you uncomfortable. You’re sleeping in a twin mattress.

Schwartz: They maintain the dorms exceptionally chilly. That’s one factor you have got to inform the younger guys: Deliver an additional blanket, which sounds loopy. But it surely will get frigid in there.

Tom Melvin, tight ends coach (twenty fifth tour): (Reid) is someone who can survive on not a number of sleep. I can’t do this.

Toub: I hate the dorms. I’m 61 years previous dwelling in a concrete block.

Saunders: It positively brings you again to that faculty really feel. For what (Reid) does and what he’s attempting to accomplish, it’s positively extra helpful to the place you may solely concentrate on soccer.

Schwartz: (Reid) would say, “We would like you guys to hang around as a lot as doable.” You’ve gotten sufficient time to hang around together with your buddies, whether or not it’s in your room taking part in video video games, within the meal corridor or hanging out after conferences.

Saunders: Me and (former security) Tyrann Mathieu had been simply speaking about that the opposite day. I’ve acquired some unreleased Tyrann Mathieu music on my laptop computer. I make music and folks used to come to my dorm on a regular basis and document stuff till curfew.

Justin Reid: It’s enjoyable taking part in chess with (guard) Joe Thuney. We’ve acquired a champion in Drue. I’m going to go problem him and see if I can take the belt.

Saunders: I like to make all my teammates my pals, even O-linemen. We go towards one another each day, however one among my closest pals is (guard Nick) Allegretti, simply the camaraderie. That’s in all probability my favourite half concerning the Chiefs’ camp.

Justin Reid: I do know much more guys (personally) on this workforce, from being right here in St. Joe than I did in Houston simply since you spend a lot time collectively. There’s a rock-paper-scissors competitors going across the locker room.

(Jamie Squire / Getty Photographs)

DeVito: Quite a lot of groups will break camp after the primary preseason sport. You get the style of freedom. However Andy brings you again. That, fingers down, is essentially the most tough half. 5 extra days of struggling.

Brett Veach, common supervisor (sixteenth tour): That’s the great thing about Coach. Most guys are like, “Camp is over; we simply performed a sport.” Then Coach kicks them within the ass as a result of that’s what they’re going to expertise in some unspecified time in the future.

Schwartz: Uh … the favourite second of camp is while you pack up and go away. Nobody really enjoys camp.

DeVito: When do you’re feeling snug in camp? When that b—- is over. That’s the one time.

Toub: He loves it. He’s not going wherever. Folks maintain speaking about retirement. He loves this. That is his passion. I do different issues. I like to play golf, go fishing. I’m attempting to get him to go hunt. He received’t do it. That is all he does: soccer.

Mahomes: I’ve informed guys if you may get by means of Andy Reid’s camp, you then’re going to have the ability to get by means of an NFL season.

DeVito: They’ve that signal on the wall: Are available as a workforce, go away as a household. For lots of groups, that might simply be a motto. For Kansas Metropolis, that’s actual. After I consider these guys that I performed with, I really like these guys. I hadn’t skilled something like that. I actually consider a significant a part of that’s by means of the relationships you construct throughout camp. The locker room was our fraternity. That’s onerous to do within the NFL, and that’s what I miss essentially the most.

(Illustration: John Bradford / The Athletic; images: Chris Graythen, Jamie Squire / Getty Photographs)

“The Soccer 100,” the definitive rating of the NFL’s greatest 100 gamers of all time, goes on sale this fall. Preorder it right here.

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