Chiefs tight end Jody Fortson lined up in 7-on-7 red zone drills midway through Sunday morning’s training camp practice at Missouri Western, with rookie cornerback Joshua Williams in coverage.
At the snap of the ball, the 6-foot-6, 230-pound Fortson ran a fade route to the right side of the end zone against the 6-foot-3, 197-pound Williams, who appeared to be in good position.
It was no contest, though, as Fortson snared quarterback Patrick Mahomes’ pass over Williams for the touchdown.
The sequence served to do more than reinforce Fortson’s play-making ability. It also showed that Fortson apparently has no lingering effects from a season-ending injury — a ruptured Achilles tendon — that he suffered during a Week 6 game last fall.
Make no mistake, one of the Chiefs’ fan favorites is back.
“I feel like I’m ready to go,” Fortson said with confidence.
Returning from an Achilles tendon injury is, on average, a six- to 12-month process, according to Med Star Health. Fortson is within that window, of course, but it’s taken him a lot of work to get to the point where he can practice full-speed and without limitations.
Fortson, who said he knew by the end of June’s organized team activities (OTAs) that he felt good, did it by attacking the rehabilitation process and believing in himself with the backing of loved ones and teammates.
“I just kept my faith,” he said. “I’ve got a strong support system, especially with my family and my team around me. So I just attacked every day as if I was going to play on Sunday.
“I was in the rehab room just working, continuing to work as if I was going to suit up that Sunday. They never really allowed me to get down on myself, so I was never actually down.”
He mentioned a particular member of the Chiefs’ athletic training department: Tiffany Morton.
“I owe a lot to God, but I owe a lot to her because she was really hands-on and didn’t really let me give up,” Fortson said. “There were some days I was like, ‘Tiff, I don’t want to do this.’ But she stayed on me and made sure I fought through it. So, shout-out to Tiff.”
Forston emerged during last year’s training camp before making the Chiefs’ initial 53-player roster. He appeared in six games, making the most of his 54 total offensive snaps by snaring five catches for 47 yards and two touchdowns.
Whether he’s truly back to form remains to be seen, but so far, so good in his quest to make up for lost time.
Now, he’s focused on a specific aspect of his approach as he continues honing his craft.
“Patience,” Fortson said. “Not rushing my routes so quickly, allowing everything just to see where I fit into the puzzle, where I fit in the grand scheme of things. Not trying to do too much, trying to do my job to the best of my ability.”
Rookie defensive lineman Kehinde Oginni Hasson, who didn’t practice Saturday, was back on the field and appeared to work without limitations.
Rookie linebacker Leo Chenal, who left Saturday’s practice because of the heat, returned to action Sunday.
Tackle Lucas Niang (knee), cornerback Rashad Fenton (shoulder) and offensive lineman Prince Tega Wanogho (leg) worked off to the side with a trainer at the rehabilitation tent. As expected, the Chiefs officially placed Niang, Fenton, Tega Wanogho and rookie wide receiver Justyn Ross on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list.
The Chiefs practiced Sunday with 31 players, including quarterback Patrick Mahomes. The team’s veterans are scheduled to report Monday.
With no fans present, the Chiefs’ media rules mirror those in place during OTAs: no reporting on personnel groupings (first- or second- or third-team units), specific formations/alignments and trick or situational plays.
Allowed, however, are general observations about head-turning and notable plays, such as:
Second-round wide receiver Cornell Powell had himself a fine practice, catching virtually everything thrown his way during 7-on-7 drills. His most impressive catch occurred down the left sideline, when he made a leaping grab over a defender on a pass from backup quarterback Chad Henne. Powell’s helmet flew off when he landed on the ground, but he maintained possession.
Rookie linebacker Leo Chenal secured an interception off backup quarterback Dustin Crum on the last play of team drills.
Rookie cornerback Joshua Williams made a nice pass breakup during 7-on-7 drills. Williams reached around the wide receiver without making contact to knock down the pass.