Patrick Mahomes was doing some throwing on Thursday to other NFL pass catchers at ACCELERATE Performance Enhancement Center in Texas, where a number of players were getting work in with with wide receivers coach David Robinson.
Among the players working with Robinson were tight end O.J. Howard of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, wide receiver Richie James of the San Francisco 49ers, and wide receiver Keon Hatcher of the Oakland Raiders. Video of some of Mahomes’s throws, which can be seen below, was posted to twitter by Bobby Belt of the NFL Network and SBNation Radio. In one video, Mahomes can be seen slinging a deep dime to James, who catches the pass in stride.
Howard, who was a first-round pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 2017 NFL Draft, will be looking to bounce back this year after seeing his 2018 season come to an end after ten games due to foot and ankle injuries. Howard had 34 catches for 565 yards and five touchdowns in 2018 before finishing the year on injured reserve.
As for Hatcher and James, they could find themselves in a stiff competition for a roster spot this year. After joining the league in 2017 as an undrafted rookie out of Arkansas, Hatcher played in his first three NFL games last season and caught one pass for eight yards. This offseason he’ll be facing a deeper and improved Raiders receiving corps that includes recent additions Antonio Brown, Tyrell Williams and JJ Nelson. James, who was a seventh-round pick of the 49ers out of Middle Tennessee in 2018, earned his chance to see time as a return specialist and a slot receiver during his rookie season. But with fellow slot receiver Trent Taylor healthy after a season of back injuries and a new slot contender on the roster in Jordan Matthews (as well as whoever the 49ers add from here), James could find himself in a roster battle come August.
Mahomes has a different type of challenge awaiting him in 2019 as he looks to follow up on an MVP performance that saw him throw for 5,097 yards and 50 touchdowns. He’s been working out at APEC to help prepare for the season to come while also making it a point to get in a breather when he can.
“First off, physically you’ve got to get yourself away from football, but then right back in shape,” Mahomes said in January in an interview with CBS Sports. “You don’t have a huge offseason, but you want to take yourself away just a little bit to let your body kind of recuperate and get back. Then I’m going to try to get myself in pretty much the best shape possible. That’s dietary, that’s going out and working out and doing whatever I can to help my body. And then mentally, just getting back into the film, getting back into stuff where you can help improve your game, going back to the fundamentals. I think as you go back and look at everything you did this year, you pick out what you did good and what you did bad and try to just eliminate the bad things and emphasize the good ones.”
The NFL season opener has traditionally featured the winner of the previous year’s Super Bowl, but that will all change during the 2019 regular season. The NFL announced on Monday afternoon that the Chicago Bears will host the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field to begin the 2019 season on Thursday Night Football. This will mark the second year in a row the Bears and Packers have squared off in Week 1 against each other.
There have been rumblings for the last couple months suggesting the two long-time NFL rivals could kick off the upcoming season. The 2019 season will mark the 100-year anniversary for both the NFL and for the Bears organization. The Packers celebrated their 100-year anniversary in 2018 and hosted the Bears at Lambeau Field in Week 1 on Sunday Night Football. The full NFL schedule typically does not get released until sometime in April.
The first NFL Kickoff game was introduced in 2002. The first game was between the San Francisco 49ers and the New York Giants. Since 2004, the game has featured the reigning Super Bowl champion. The Baltimore Ravens are the only defending Super Bowl champion that did not host the first game of the year due to a conflict with parking.
A game between the Bears and the Packers would be an interesting way to begin the 100-year celebration. Chicago and Green Bay have the oldest rivalry in the NFL, dating back to 1921. Chicago won that first contest by a score of 20-0.
The Bears and Packers have played each other 198 times with Green Bay leading the all-time series with a 97-95-6 record. The two squads faced each other in Week 1 of the 2018 season with Green Bay walking away with the victory. That contest featured Khalil Mack’s first game in a Bears uniform. Despite his strong performance, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers returned in the second half from an injury to knock off the Bears. Chicago got revenge in Week 15 by knocking off the Packers to claim the NFC North title. The playoff berth was the first for Chicago since the 2010 season. The Bears ended the season with a 12-4 record under NFL Coach of the Year Matt Nagy.
The Packers fired head coach Mike McCarthy during the season and ended the year with a 6-9-1 record. The team hired Matt LaFleur as their head coach this offseason. The Packers also added a lot of new players to their roster at the start of free agency, including former Bears starting strong safety Adrian Amos. Green Bay also added offensive lineman Billy Turner and linebackers Preston Smith and Za’Darius Smith to the roster.
Recent history has favored the Packers with Green Bay holding a 15-4 record against Chicago dating back to 2010. Chicago’s win in Week 15 of the 2018 season was the team’s first over the Packers since Thanksgiving night in 2015.
There’s a lull in the action right now when it comes to the Kansas City Chiefs making offseason moves, but maybe it’ll wind up being a case of calm before the storm.
The Chiefs made their share of headlines around the start of free agency when they cut pass rusher Justin Houston and safety Eric Berry, while also trading away pass rusher Dee Ford to the San Francisco 49ers. There have been notable additions made to the roster such as safety Tyrann Mathieu, linebacker Damien Wilson and defensive end Alex Okafor, but there’s still room for more improvement on a defense in the midst of an overhaul. While speaking on the NFL Network’s Good Morning Football on Monday, reporter and GMFB co-host Peter Schrager said he believes there’s still more to come from the Chiefs after speaking with team general manager Brett Veach at the NFL meetings in Phoenix on Sunday.
“There’s obviously reason for concern here,” Schrager said. “Dee Ford led the league in forced fumbles last year. Eric Berry was not only the defensive leader but he was the locker room guy. And you’re losing important players both on and off the field. I would say this — Brett Veach, their general manager, and I talked to him for a long time in the lobby yesterday — they might not be done.”
So what might the Chiefs have in mind? That remains to be seen, but as Schrager noted, they’ve made big splashes at this time of the year before (the Patrick Mahomes trade, for example). The Chiefs don’t seem limited at the moment in terms of avenues they can pursue to improve the team, especially considering they have two second-round picks in each of the next two drafts to dangle as trade bait.
“I don’t think the offseason is done and I don’t think the Kansas City Chiefs are done,” Schrager said. “What does that mean? Does that mean trading up in the draft to get one of these elite guys? Maybe. Does that mean looking at other teams and saying who are some of their pieces that might be on the move or entering final contract years? Maybe they make a move and get aggressive there. I can’t see the Kansas City Chiefs just sitting on their hands from now until training camp after losing three of their best defensive players and their locker room leader in Eric Berry. I’m going to go with the thought they’re still a work in progress on defense and they’ll go from there.”
More will likely be heard from Veach and Chiefs head coach Andy Reid at this week’s meetings. But Schrager is right — based on some of the moves the Chiefs have made in recent years, one never knows when they might have their next bombshell move ready to drop.