ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid has his plan to get quarterback Patrick Mahomes and other key players prepared for the regular season, and the risk of subjecting them to the possibility of injury doesn’t interfere.
In an era when some top quarterbacks don’t play in the preseason, Mahomes and the other Chiefs’ starters will play the first half in Saturday’s exhibition game against the Arizona Cardinals.
“It’s all part of the game,’’ Reid said. “They’ve got to get ready for the (regular season). I think it’s tough going into the first game. It’s going to be fast, much faster than what you could present at practice.
“(A preseason game) at least is another step up from (practice) and gives you just a little kick up speed-wise of the game.’’
Reid went on to say he might pull Mahomes from the game earlier than planned if the Cardinals remove their defensive starters quickly and he doesn’t feel Mahomes is getting good work.
Mahomes played just six snaps in last week’s preseason opener against the New Orleans Saints. Tight end Travis Kelce played five. Reid left the starting offensive line in the game for three plays with backup quarterback Blaine Gabbert, and then those players were done for the day.
The one drive with Mahomes at quarterback ended with a failed fourth-down conversion attempt. By the time Reid pulled the starters on both sides of the ball, the Chiefs trailed 14-0.
The backups later rallied the Chiefs into the lead but the Saints won on a walkoff field goal.
“Just better energy, better urgency just from the get-go,’’ Mahomes said of what he’s looking for from the Chiefs in Arizona. “It’s a preseason game, and obviously the results don’t necessarily matter. But they do if you want to be build a culture of winning, and we have a lot of young guys, and even though they won a Super Bowl, they have to know how to respond and get even better the second year.’’
Mahomes has said he likes playing in the preseason, indicating he feels it’s good preparation, and recent history suggests Reid’s strategy may be working..
The Chiefs have scored 33, 42, 38, 40, 34, 33 and 44 points in their last seven season openers. They started a season 4-0 or 5-0 in four of the last six seasons. The Chiefs were 9-0 at one point in 2013, Reid’s first season as their coach.
If form holds, the game in Arizona will be the last work for Mahomes and the other starters in the preseason. Reid has usually held starters from the final exhibition game, which this year for the Chiefs is on Aug. 26 against the Cleveland Browns at Arrowhead Stadium.