Eight most intriguing Kansas City Chiefs players to watch in training camp


KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Next week, the fun really begins.

Yes, after an eventful offseason — which included the end of the Chris Jones contract saga, the trade of L’Jarius Sneed and contract extensions for coach Andy Reid and general manager Brett Veach — the Kansas City Chiefs will start their 2024 campaign Tuesday with the opening of training camp, when quarterbacks, rookies and veterans returning from injury are expected to report to the campus of Missouri Western State University.

Although the Chiefs’ projected 53-man roster and depth chart are mostly set, plenty of players will be intriguing to watch over the next five weeks. Here are eight players whose camp progress will likely determine their status for the remainder of the season.

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The most fascinating player on the Chiefs’ 90-man roster is Rees-Zammit, the speedster and former rugby star who joined the team this offseason after entering the NFL’s International Player Pathway program. The first football game in Rees-Zammit’s 32-year-old life will come Aug. 10 in the Chiefs’ preseason opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Rees-Zammit has the skills — speed, reliable hands and above-average vision — to develop into a quality player. The question is this: Can he make the transition before opening night, Sept. 5?

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The best and perhaps the most direct way for Rees-Zammit to earn his spot on the initial roster is by excelling as a kickoff returner. But he will also compete with Deneric Prince and Keaontay Ingram for the third running back spot on the depth chart.

“He’s done above and beyond what I’ve expected,” special teams coordinator Dave Toub said of Rees-Zammit in late May. “He can kick field goals, he can kick off and he can be a kickoff guy for us. He’s every bit as good as (safety) Justin (Reid) is at moving the ball on kickoffs. He’s really working hard at a returning job. He wants to be great, and he’s a great athlete. He’s just got such a long way to go, mentally-wise. But he’s on the accelerator program, and he’s doing well.”

This is a make-or-break year for Toney, who is entering the final year of his rookie contract. Last year, Toney missed training camp and the preseason while recovering from surgery to repair the meniscus and cartilage in his knee. In the regular season, he struggled, dropping multiple passes from quarterback Patrick Mahomes and was benched in December.

Beyond needing to stay healthy, Toney must continue to rebuild his connection and chemistry with Mahomes while also showing he can be one of the top targets for backup quarterback Carson Wentz in the preseason. An argument can be made that Toney is still the Chiefs’ most talented receiver, even after the offseason additions of Marquise Brown and rookie Xavier Worthy. Toney, though, needs to demonstrate consistency in camp and the preseason to secure his roster spot.

If he doesn’t do well in camp, Toney could be a candidate to be traded ahead of Aug. 27, the NFL’s annual cutdown date. If Toney is traded, that would create $2.5 million in salary-cap space for the Chiefs with no dead money, according to Over the Cap.

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Early in camp last year, Johnson was competing for a starting spot in the Chiefs’ talented secondary before suffering a torn ACL in his right knee, ending his season before it started. He returned to the practice fields in the spring and had impressive reps, even splitting time with the rest of the projected starters.

If Johnson does well and is available for the Chiefs’ season opener, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo could have as many as nine rotational contributors in the secondary.

LT Kingsley Suamataia

The lone major position battle is at left tackle. The Chiefs selected Suamataia in the second round of the draft. He will compete for the starting role against second-year player Wanya Morris, who started four games as a rookie. During minicamp last month, Suamataia played most of the reps at left tackle with the rest of the projected starters to help him prepare for camp. The real test for Suamataia will be when the Chiefs have several consecutive padded practices, reps that will feature him in one-on-one matchups against pass rushers George Karlaftis, Mike Danna and Chris Jones.

“At training camp, I think we can open up that talk a little more on where we’re at, where we stand,” Jones said last month on Suamataia’s progress. “Either we are getting our butt kicked, or we’re kicking butt.”

In spring practices (remember, there were no pads), Wiley, the Chiefs’ fourth-round pick, produced some of the most impressive reps, receptions that showed his above-average athleticism and route-running ability against the projected defensive starters. Listed at 6-foot-3 and 249 pounds, Wiley should be a compelling secondary passing option for Mahomes as he learns the nuances of the position in the Chiefs offense from Travis Kelce.

“The more he gets down the field, he can really make those tough, contested catches,” Mahomes said of Wiley in late May. “I want him to play even more physical. I know it’s hard in OTAs. You can’t really bump, but I think he can make those tough catches in the middle of the field. He’s faster than people think he is.”

Similar to Toney, Moore had a disappointing 2023 season and finished the season with a knee injury. Also similar to Toney, Moore needs to reestablish his role within the offense, whether as a primary slot receiver or a trusted all-around receiver, such as seven-year veteran Justin Watson. Moore is likely to compete with Toney for regular-season snaps if both players make the initial roster. If Moore is released or traded on cutdown day, it would create $1.29 million in salary-cap space for the Chiefs with less than $500,000 in dead money, according to Over the Cap.

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The player who could benefit the most if Toney or Moore stumbles is Remigio, the second-year player who joined the Chiefs last season as an undrafted rookie. Remigio is likely competing for the final roster spot at the position, as he is also a possible kickoff returner. He has built a connection with Wentz during the offseason program, too.

Last year, Remigio led the Chiefs with four receptions for 71 yards in their preseason opener against the New Orleans Saints before he sustained a season-ending dislocated left shoulder injury the following week. Remigio’s minicamp reps were split between the rest of the projected starters and the top backups.

“Nikko is a prime example of an undrafted free agent that comes in, is an absolute professional every day — in the meeting rooms, at practice, the same mentality — and you root for guys like that,” offensive coordinator Matt Nagy said in May. “He’s showing up. Guys like him find a role and they’ve got to make an impact on special teams. I’m rooting for him, I think he’s a great kid and it could be a fun story.”

When the Chiefs selected Thompson in the fifth round of the 2023 draft, he was projected to be a developmental prospect, a player who needed a redshirt year before competing for snaps. Thompson enters this season hoping to earn a role as a rotational edge rusher.

He missed minicamp last month to rest after a seizure sent him into cardiac arrest while in a special teams meeting. He was able to rejoin his teammates for the Super Bowl ring ceremony last month.

Just like for Suamataia, the Chiefs’ padded practices will be important for Thompson. They will indicate how much he has improved since his rookie season.

(Photo of Louis Rees-Zammit: Aaron M. Sprecher / Associated Press)





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