Kansas City Chiefs coaches, quarterbacks and rookies arrived on the campus of Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph on Friday, July 22. The rest of the team — its veterans — reported three days later, on Monday, July 25.
Starting left tackle Orlando Brown Jr., who sat out all of the team’s offseason programs, did not report on that day — and then he stayed at home as the team conducted its first five practices of training camp.
Over the past week-plus, head coach Andy Reid, quarterback Patrick Mahomes and several other Chiefs players have been asked questions about the status of starting left tackle, who was disgruntled that the team did not offer him what he deemed to be a fair long-term contract.
On Monday, Brown showed up for camp — and on Tuesday, after signing his tag and participating in his first practice, he could finally speak for himself.
“I missed a lot of ball up to this point,” started Brown. “And obviously, I missed the locker room. I missed the coaches — everyone here in the building. I know how important this five-day stretch is to coach (Andy) Reid and everybody here in KC, so it didn’t feel right sitting at home [and] missing out on this. This is something that I want to be a part of. I was brought here to help win Super Bowls, and this week is very important to our progression.”
Considering Brown and the Chiefs had negotiations that went down to the wire, there could be some natural awkwardness that may come with his late arrival. But during his initial training camp press conference, Reid spoke about Brown’s (and other players’) ability to work out during contract disputes.
“There’s a time element, and I think players, with time, they’re able to sort that out,” said Reid on opening day. “The business side of it and the football side of it — they’re able to separate that. For the most part, the ones I’ve been around did a great job with that. And then they show up, and they do their football part.
“They’re still going to be paid, and Orlando’s going to be paid pretty good money, so they’re able to separate that and move on. That’s how it goes.”
Brown would have liked to have shown up to camp with a long-term deal secured — but as Reid noted, the alternative isn’t so bad. Under the now-signed franchise tag, Brown will make more than $16 million this season — with a chance to make more if the two sides can agree to a deal next offseason.
General manager Brett Veach has gone on record, saying that the Chiefs still have a desire to get something done with Brown in the future. Considering Brown’s outlook for his own career, that’s a meaningful note.
“I want to be here,” said Brown. “I want to finish my career here in Kansas City. I’m sure [there are] questions out there. But to me, with the contract situation, there just weren’t enough guarantees — and I want to be here for the rest of my career in Kansas City. That’s really important to me.”
The Chiefs’ final offer was reportedly for six years at an average of $23.6 million — but with an easily-negatable sixth year, it equated to five years for around $19 million per year. It has since been established that the Chiefs had reason to offer what they did, while Brown’s camp had reason to walk away.
Regardless of how the negotiation went down, the July 15 long-term deadline passed — and the only remaining option was the tag. And so then, the necessary conversations happened — and just as Reid described on Day 1, the business has been separated from the football.
“Me and Veach have talked,” said Brown. “Me and Coach Reid have spoken — understanding that business is business, you know what I mean? At the end of the day, that part is behind us for now. We’re moving forward… I’m here to win Super Bowls. At the end of the day, that’s what I care about.”
So as the Chiefs continued their pursuit of winning their first Super Bowl since 2019, the first of six padded practices over eight days began on Monday. As Brown alluded during his media remarks, it can be properly argued that this is the most important stretch of the team’s near-month-long training camp.
On Tuesday, the Chiefs coaching staff did not opt to throw Brown directly into what would be considered a full workload, instead choosing to build up his football shape with a partial practice.
To start, Brown went through warmups, individual position sessions and one-on-ones — but the team held him out of 11-on-11 scrimmage periods. Going up against defensive end Mike Danna, Brown looked to be working the rust out.
“I felt good, I felt good,” said Brown. “I was excited to get out there and get some live reps. Obviously, I’ve been doing a ton of stuff — training on my one and things like that, but it felt good to get out there with the guys… I spent a lot of time this summer playing tennis down there in Miami.
“I spent a lot of time swimming — twice a week and training at Pete Bommarito’s Performance Systems, so my body feels great. Man, I’m ready to go.”
At the podium, Brown appeared slimmed down — and though there was a palpable feeling of disappointment, there was also one of relief. Brown no longer has to rely on Mahomes, tight end Travis Kelce and offensive linemen Creed Humphrey and Trey Smith to speak for him, as they all were asked to in his absence.
He was there, in the flesh, speaking on his own behalf.
“Those are some of my brothers, man,” said Brown. “Fortunately, I’ve been able to grow with them over the last year, especially on the field and off the field. Man, I really appreciate them — and I appreciate everyone in that locker room. It’s a driving force for me this offseason and every year. I’m very thankful to be able to block for someone like that and play with other guys like Trav, all those men up front. (Offensive line) coach Andy Heck, (head) coach Andy Reid, [offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy], I could just on and on.”
Before the end of the session, Brown reminded the media and fans how thankful he was for his opportunity to play left tackle for the Chiefs. His unwavering passion to play left instead of right was the original reason he became available for trade from Baltimore.
His appearance also came with explicit goals for 2022.
“I want to progress in almost every way, shape, form or fashion,” said Brown. “I want to be a better run blocker. I want to be a better pass blocker, a better leader — allowing them to count on me when they need me most. That was something I feel like I struggled with a little bit last year— not putting myself in the best position when games were close — so on certain third downs or in close games against certain talents, that was something that I definitely wanted to improve on.”
Those goals drive his optimism that at this time next year, he will have earned that long-term security from the Chiefs.
“I spoke to a lot of people here in the front office and Coach Reid — and everyone understands,” he added. “I love ball. I love blocking for Pat Mahomes. I love putting the Chiefs logo on my helmet, and I really enjoy being here, so I know that time will tell. And things will get taken care of with time. I just look forward to getting on the field this year.”
You can find full observations posted from Wednesday’s practice here.
- Did not practice (due to injury): CB Rashad Fenton (shoulder) OL Lucas Niang (knee) OL Prince Tega Wanogho (leg), TE Jody Fortson (quad)
- Left early: WR Skyy Moore (hip)
Tweet of the day
Chiefs LT Orlando Brown Jr. a man of the people, stopping to sign autographs before heading up the hill as part of his acclimation process.
He went through team drills and one-on-one vs. DL, looked fine. pic.twitter.com/lKaM6daqn9
— Herbie Teope (@HerbieTeope) August 2, 2022
Nice of Brown in his making up for lost… autographs.
Quote of the day
Defensive end George Karlaftis on whether he has a sack goal for his rookie season in 2022: “No, no It’s not about the number [of sacks], it’s about playing in Arizona [in Super Bowl LVII] in February.”
The Chiefs return to the practice field on Wednesday for their sixth workout open to the public. The practice begins at 9:15 a.m. Arrowhead Time. Here’s the complete schedule. The team’s offensive and defensive linemen will be available to sign autographs after practice as head coach Andy Reid addresses the media at the podium.
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