Battle grown under Herm


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Jan 22, 2006
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Battle grown under Herm

By Rick Dean
The Capital-Journal
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Julian Battle thinks he may have picked up more practical tips about playing cornerback in the last three days than he learned in his previous three seasons with the Chiefs.

Perhaps that's a tribute to his new position coach, David Gibbs, a defensive back on the Colorado team that won a share of the National Championship after an Orange Bowl victory over Notre Dame.

More likely, it's a reflection of the way Battle feels about the hands-on coaching he got from his new boss, former NFL cornerback and current Chiefs head coach Herm Edwards, during the three-day rookies/new players mini-camp that concluded Sunday.

Edwards, a head coach who loves to help out his position coaches, spent large parts of his first mini-camp working with Gibbs and the young Chiefs corners. The extent of his expertise immediately became clear to his players.

"You can't even explain how much of a plus that is to a cornerback,'' Battle said of the credibility Edwards earned as a 10-year NFL corner with one Pro Bowl appearance. "In just three practices he's taught me so many things that will help me -- off-man techniques, press coverage, all of that.

"He played 10 years, he was an All Pro corner. He knows this stuff backwards and forward. To say this has been tremendous would be an understatement.''

One of Kansas City's hopes in hiring Edwards as the replacement for the offensive-minded Dick Vermeil was that he could help improve a secondary that has been at or near the bottom of the league's pass defense rankings for the past four seasons.

And while Edwards knows better than anyone the importance of keeping an eye on all aspects of his team, his greatest interest in his first extensive on-field time with his new team seemed to involve his secondary.

"I've been fortunate to have been in this league for a long time as a player and a coach, and I've gathered some knowledge,'' he explained. "It would be a shame if you have knowledge of something and don't share it with others.

"And it helps when you don't have to say, 'I got this from a book.' I learned what I know on the field. I went through a lot myself, so if I can save a cornerback a heartache or two like I went through, I want to do that.

"Believe me, I know what they're going through. I know they're going to be beat from time to time. But maybe I can help them avoid some of that.''

Edwards and his assistants will be watching Battle closely during the spring and summer. A third-round draft choice in 2003, Battle was making his move for more playing time when he tore his Achilles tendon in a passing drill last spring.

Battle missed the 2005 season and now comes to a make-or-break point in his career. The Chiefs are looking for a new right cornerback. The field is wide open. Battle would like to step into the fray.

"I think he's ready for the challenge,'' Edwards said after watching Battle running at full speed in the mini-camp. "He's a guy who has a lot of talent, but he's had injuries and things haven't gone his way. Hopefully, that's all behind him now and he can grab hold of this opportunity to do something with it.''

Battle says he's feeling no ill effects from the Achilles injury, but admits he's not in top football condition just yet.

"I've been running and all that, but I get winded quick,'' he admitted. "But, I feel good, and once I knock this rust off, I'll be fine.''
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