What Kansas City Chiefs’ Creed Humphrey is focused on following breakout debut season

Emily Curiel/ecuriel@kcstar.com

League-wide voters for the NFL end-of-season awards overlooked Kansas City Chiefs center Creed Humphrey’s standout rookie campaign in 2021.

But one of Humphrey’s high-profile teammates certainly took notice.

“He should’ve been an All-Pro last year,” said Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones, a three-time Pro Bowl selection. “They snubbed him from that, snubbed him from his first Pro Bowl.

“But, hey, keep on chopping and success will come over time.”

Humphrey was grateful when told of Jones’ comments.

“I appreciate that from Chris,” Humphrey said. “Getting that praise from a guy that’s good as him is pretty cool.”

While Humphrey absorbed his teammate’s praise, it’s hard to ignore the success he enjoyed on the football field last season after the Chiefs used a second-round pick on him in the 2021 NFL Draft.

He quickly gained the Chiefs’ confidence and became a mainstay anchor on the offensive line, opening training camp last season with the first-team unit and never left.

The 6-foot-5, 312-pound Humphrey started all 17 regular-season games last year and the Chiefs’ three postseason games, garnering attention from Pro Football Focus as one of the top-rated centers in the entire NFL.

Yet, the voters for the All-Pro Team and Pro Bowl ignored his performances. All good to Humphrey, who prefers to focus on his craft.

“To be honest, I don’t really try to think of those things in the season,” he said. “I try to focus on what I can do for the team and how I can improve my game, for sure.”

Whatever he’s doing is working.

Throughout training camp, Humphrey continues to showcase his blocking skills during 11-on-11 drills. But he really rises to the top during one-on-one drills, where he is typically seen stonewalling his defensive line teammates, including Jones, during pass-rush drills.

So much so that Jones joked he tries to avoid going against Humphrey during the drills.

“I haven’t gone against him, I try to stay far away from the nose spot as possible – I’m just kidding,” Jones said with a chuckle. “I’ve seen a lot of great competitive battles, especially one-on-one. That’s when mano against mano, am I better than you? It’s been a lot of competitive battles.”

Humphrey will need to carry over his desire to always improve and the competitive fire into the 2022 season.

While his on-field performances will eventually command attention from award voters, the second-year center is no secret to opponents.

“I’ll tell you Creed’s challenge is this year,” Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said. “He was a newcomer last year, but now all these coaches have had a chance to study him for an offseason and they’ll try to throw him some different pitches in there.

“So, how he handles that will be important. He played well last year and was one of the best, but these coaches get creative and they’re going to challenge you. The work that he’s put in and he’s putting in now is so important.”

Humphrey agreed, pointing out he relies on his veteran offensive line teammates for advice as he transitions to another professional campaign.

“It’s been nice to talk to them about it,” he said. “For me, it’s really just I’m continuing to focus on my game and try to get my weaknesses better and my strengths better. Really, that’s my focus right now in camp is improving how I play the game.”