One of the benefits in moving Patrick Mahomes II up the Kansas City Chiefs' quarterback depth chart to No. 2 is that the rookie will get more experience. By jumping Tyler Bray on the depth chart after last week's game, Mahomes got more work in practice, though not by much.
Mahomes as the top backup should also get more snaps in the next couple of preseason games, beginning Saturday night against the Bengals in Cincinnati. That's where a lot of his growth will come.
"When you are [at training camp], some of this stuff is scripted and he has kind of a way of knowing what is going to come in practice," offensive coordinator Matt Nagy said. "But in a game, down and distance situationally, there's a little bit more pressure involved."
Practice, even during training camp, is conducted at something less than game speed, sometimes far less. Even when practice is at a faster tempo, quarterbacks don't have to worry about getting hit. Mahomes and the other Chiefs quarterbacks wear bright yellow practice jerseys, signifying to the other players that they are to keep their hands off.
There are no such restrictions in games. Mahomes even took a sack in last week's preseason opener against the San Francisco 49ers.
"The real-time snaps are what it's all about," offensive assistant Brad Childress said.
As the third quarterback against the 49ers, Mahomes got more snaps (20) than any of Kansas City's other QBs. But that was the first preseason game, when young players tend to get much of the work.
Many of the quarterback snaps in the second and third preseason games tend to go to the top two on the depth chart. So Mahomes' promotion comes at a good time, and indeed this is what the Chiefs might have had in mind when they made the move.
"There [are] always things you can learn from and try to get better from," Mahomes said. "If it is a mistake, if it is a bad throw, you can just learn from those and try to get better after watching video and having more and more days of practice."
Coach Andy Reid said game experience is so beneficial to Mahomes. He was able to make the pass to Kemp only because he failed on the throw to Escobar. Mahomes was rolling out on each play.
"That throw that he missed to Escobar there when he was moving ... you don't get that in practice," Reid said. "They make those throws in practice because everybody's staying away from them and not hitting them.
"For Patrick to come back and make the throw on the touchdown to Kemp was the same deal. He kind of learned from that first one where he missed Escobar and he comes back and he gets everything under control and then he makes that kind of no-look throw there to Kemp."