KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Starting left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. missed Kansas City Chiefs training camp last week, but Patrick Mahomes’ blindside protector is headed for Missouri Western in St. Joseph now that the team is practicing in pads.
Brown’s agent, Michael Portner, confirmed Monday that he would sign the Chiefs’ franchise-tag tender and report to camp.
With the two sides unable to reach an agreement on a long-term extension during the offseason, Brown could have waited longer to report by delaying when he signed the franchise-tag tender.
Instead, Portner said it was important to Brown to get into camp and establish himself as a leader now that the pads are on and his teammates are excited for his arrival.
“That’s one of our leaders right there,” Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce said. “Everybody in this building loves ‘Big O.’ Hopefully, we can get him here and get him acclimated as soon as possible. It’s definitely been a little bit different of a locker room. He’s such a big dude, such a big personality, man. He brings a lot of life to the group. We’ll be happy to have him back.”
It’s also critical to Kansas City’s season-long ambition, including the quest for a seventh straight AFC West title and a return to the Super Bowl.
The sooner Brown reports, the sooner the starting offensive line gets the chance to come together ahead of the season.
“Continuity comes with reps,” center Creed Humphrey said. “The more reps you get, the more you’ll jel and the faster you’ll jel. So, we’re excited to get up there and excited to get after it.”
Chiefs coach Andy Reid said Brown will have a little catching up to do once he arrives.
“He’ll just have to catch up on the new stuff and then the conditioning part, right?” Reid said. “... When he gets here we’ll talk to him and see where he’s at then be smart with it.”
Nothing a player can do away from the facility replicates the work at training camp, so Brown’s arrival — rather than holding out for a prolonged period of time — should greatly benefit the Chiefs.
“It’s hard to mimic the game speed and putting the uniform on, helmet and pads, when you’re doing stuff on your own,” Reid said. “You’ve got to go through that to get yourself right, and he understands that.”
Brown also missed new installs and reps during organized team activities and minicamp earlier in the offseason, but he should be able to catch up quickly after reporting.
“To say he doesn’t have a foundation, I mean he has a foundation of the plays that we run and the things that we do,” Reid said. “But he missed all of OTA’s and all of that, so the new stuff that we put in is where he’ll have to catch up.”
Brown is projected to start alongside left guard Joe Thuney, Humphrey, right guard Trey Smith and right tackle Andrew Wylie, who started seven games at the position with Lucas Niang injured last season.
Hopes are high for the Chiefs’ offensive line, which came together last season and returns largely intact.
“Everybody on the line this year, we want to be known as one of the most physically dominating lines in the league,” Humphrey said. “We have the pieces; we have the guys who can do it.”
But training camp will set the foundation for how much progress the unit can make in 2022.
“You always want to be a physical offensive line, you know?” Thuney said. “It takes all five guys. It starts there and then you just keep building and building. Obviously, training camp is a great place to grow it even more. It’s just kind of a day-to-day thing.”
Currently, Niang is on the physically unable to perform, or PUP, list after undergoing knee surgery last winter. He’s not expected to return until late in training camp at the earliest.
Among players currently active, tight end Jody Fortson missed practice Monday. Reid said it was a strained quad and shouldn’t keep him out long-term.
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes got stepped on by an offensive lineman who got pushed back into him, which sent Mahomes briefly to the medical tent.
Reid said, “He’s OK.”
Brown, who Reid said he’d yet to see at camp, and defensive end Carlos Dunlap, who signed with the Chiefs late last week and won’t report until later in the week, were not available for Monday’s practice.
Three players — Niang, cornerback Rashad Fenton (shoulder) and offensive tackle Prince Tega Wanogho (leg) — are on the PUP list.