Another Postcard from Mini-Camp


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Jan 22, 2006
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Another Postcard from Mini-Camp
May 22, 2006, 4:49:36 AM by Bob Gretz

Some thoughts and observations, but very few conclusions after watching the Chiefs go through three practice sessions during the first full-squad mini-camp of the Herman Edwards Era. Again, the players were in helmets, but they were wearing shorts and not full pads. There was no real contact, and thus making assumptions on players, units and teams is far fetched; all that must wait for training camp in River Falls.

There was one memory that won’t go away any time soon: Saturday afternoon, the Chiefs practiced inside Arrowhead Stadium in front of 14,000 fans. Long after the team left the field, after Edwards had finished with his press conference, after Trent Green had finished with his press conference, after most of the team had showered and was enjoying lunch, and after most of the fans had headed for the parking lots, there was still one player on the field signing autographs. He had a smile on his face and seemed like he was having a great time.

For all those people who think he’s sour about life and has a bad attitude, it’s too bad they could not have seen Larry Johnson interacting with those fans at that moment. He made the day for a couple hundred folks who hung around and waited for his signature.

Now, here’s what happened in practice.

FRIDAY: Edwards is determined to clean up the Chiefs penalty problems and that started with the very first full-team workout as two officials worked the practice. This is something that has been done before by previous head coaches at Arrowhead over the years. The difference with Edwards is this: the officials keep track of the players who are hit with the infractions and the next day, that list is posted and discussed by the head coach. Players were already complaining about the practice before the end of the Friday workout. They’ll soon learn it’s not going away.

The first thing the defense did when it came together as a unit was the pursuit drill and the players learned quickly how important the coaching staff views that portion of practice. When one of the defenders on the second unit did not run with the type of effort the coaches are looking for, the group had to do it over again.

Another new edition to practices is an on-field timer that counts down the seconds the passer has in the pocket during drills. In Friday’s practice, the clock was set at three seconds and went off several times while the quarterback still held the ball.

Defensively, DE Eric Hicks, DT Ron Edwards, CB Benny Sapp and S William Bartee did not practice or were very limited in their work because of injury. The No. 1 defense had DEs Tamba Hali and Jared Allen, DTs Ryan Sims and Lional Dalton, LBs Derrick Johnson, Kawika Mitchell and Kendrell Bell, CBs Patrick Surtain and Lenny Walls and SS Sammy Knight and Greg Wesley.

DT Junior Siavii did not practice at all over the weekend because of continuing knee problems and that did nothing to stabilize his already shaky position on the roster.

Control of practice went back and forth between the offense and defense. At one point the offense was having its way, and within minutes the defense established dominance.

SATURDAY: Inside Arrowhead the Chiefs went through their second practice and started just as they have every workout under Edwards: with special teams. They worked on kickoffs, both returning and covering in the first moments. Later, they worked on field goals. By the end of the weekend, they had touched on every part of the special teams.

Free agent WR Terrance Metcalf made a nice catch in traffic that got he crowd fired up. So did several other receivers, although they were out of bounds when they came down. But the key there wasn’t so much the catches, it’s the “in traffic” that surrounded the potential receivers. The Chiefs defensive back seven was extremely quick and active throughout the weekend. LB Kawika Mitchell seemed to be everywhere, not only in hitting the holes to stop the run, but also in dropping deep down the middle several times in coverage.

Play of the practice came when Larry Johnson broke outside on a run and was chased about 40 yards into the end zone by Derrick Johnson. DJ couldn’t catch LJ but it got the crowd fired up to see Johnson & Johnson busting their behinds.

Maybe it was the crowd and the increase in intensity that always brings, but there were a lot more flags thrown in this practice than Friday.

SUNDAY: With Dante Hall sitting out the camp with a thumb injury, the Chiefs had Samie Parker, Benny Sapp, McKenzi Smith, Quentin Griffin and Chris Hannon returning kickoffs.

QBs Brodie Croyle and Casey Printers continued to show their skills over the weekend with the competition level increased. Croyle has blended right in with the offense; Printers looked calmer and more assured in his pocket work this weekend than he did in the rookie mini-camp a week earlier. Several times, Printers showed that arm strength is never going to be a problem for him. However, Printers was picked off by LB Rich Scanlon in the seven-on-seven drill near the end of practice.

S Bernard Pollard couldn’t do what he does best, which is hit people, but he made one play in the seven-on-seven portion of practice where he was able to get over and knock away a sure completion to a receiver. In that one play he showed speed, quickness and recognition. “He’s a better athlete than I thought he was,” said defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham.

The defensive star of the final day was Hali, who consistently beat the offensive tackles trying to block him and put pressure on the quarterback.

NOTES: Arrowhead goes quiet for two weeks now, as the players won’t be back on the field for OTA sessions until June 6 … former Cleveland Browns head coach Butch Davis was an observer for the entire mini-camp weekend … Amsterdam and Frankfurt will play for the NFL Europe championship this Saturday and the Chiefs have two players involved: CB Justin Perkins for Amsterdam and T Will Svitek with Frankfurt. Svitek has gotten high grades for his performance at left tackle and the Chiefs are anxious to see if he can transfer that to work against better opposition in the NFL this pre-season.

The opinions offered in this column do not necessarily reflect those of the Kansas City Chiefs.
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