Quarterback Patrick Mahomes arrived at training camp Tuesday with the understanding that he and his Kansas City Chiefs teammates must be better in 2023 if they are to repeat as Super Bowl champions.
“I think the theme this year is how can we continue to build,” said Mahomes, who reported for camp at Missouri Western State University on Tuesday along with the team’s quarterbacks and rookies.
Mahomes won MVP honors last season and captured his second Lombardi Trophy.
“Obviously we won the Super Bowl last year and it was amazing, but we still have a lot of young guys. We want to keep improving more and more. You look around AFC, everyone has improved.”
If the Chiefs hope to improve, much of the challenge falls to Mahomes. Following the offseason departure of free-agent receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mecole Hardman, it’s up to Mahomes to build connections with a group of young receivers that include Kadarius Toney, Skyy Moore and this year’s second-round pick Rashee. Rice.
The good thing, according to head coach Andy Reid, is how much Mahomes enjoys challenges.
“With quarterbacks, the job is never done,” Reid said. “It’s like being a farmer, and you just keep pulling up. We’re always trying to give him new challenges with things and he loves that, and he loves attacking that kind of thing.”
It’s the ability to challenge his players that Mahomes says makes Reid a great coach.
“I’m sure you ask Travis (Kelce), you ask Chris Jones, you ask all these guys who think the same thing because it’s not letting you be satisfied with where you are.”
Indeed, if the Chiefs hope to repeat as Super Bowl champions, they can’t be satisfied with what they accomplished last season.
The time before, the Chiefs looked to repeat as Super Bowl champions, finishing with a 14-2 record before losing Super Bowl 55 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-9.
Mahomes feels the need to further motivate his teammates this time.
“Even though we are winning football games, we are not satisfied with just winning, we are satisfied with finding ways to improve every week,” he said.
“I’ve said a lot about the AFC when you look at the AFC, there’s almost every team that you can see a path to make the playoffs,” Mahomes said. “I know you say that every year, but I think this year is really real, and we know that week after week is going to be a challenge for us. Let’s improve and try to win as many football matches as possible and put ourselves in that position.”
CHRIS JONES CONTRACT
With just a few days until the team’s veterans report to training camp, Reid wasn’t sure if All-Pro defensive tackle Chris Jones will arrive with his teammates.
“I don’t know,” Reid said. “I’ll have to see how that goes. There is communication going on. That’s the important part, so we just have to see.”
Jones is scheduled to earn $19.5 million in base salary this season with a salary cap of more than $29.4 million. The 29-year-old is seeking a contract extension, while the club also wants an extension for Jones to free up much-needed cap space.
Reid said defensive tackle Tershawn Wharton, who ended last season on injured reserve with a torn ACL, will start training camp on the physically unable list. Running back Isiah Pacheco, who underwent surgery for shoulder and hand injuries during the offseason, will be evaluated when the veterans report Friday to determine if he’s ready to practice with the club.
Mahomes, who sprained a high ankle during the team’s postseason run, said he sometimes felt shy about running and cutting during OTAs outside of season.
However, he feels that he is now in a good place as he heads to the camp.
“As I got closer to (veteran’s) minicamp and later OTA, I got my confidence back in my ankle,” Mahomes said. “I’m sure I won’t be doing a lot of racing right now, but we’ll be testing especially on these mid-throttle cars, so I’ll make sure it’s ready to go.”