Herm is man of action


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Jan 22, 2006
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Herm is man of action
Edwards shows his hands-on style
The Kansas City Star

Herm Edwards’ first Chiefs practice was just minutes old Friday when the new head coach jumped into the middle of a linebacker drill. He proceeded to demonstrate to the collection of rookies and young veterans the proper way to drop into pass coverage.

Even at this early juncture of his time with the Chiefs, Edwards is more hands-on than any of their recent head coaches.

Edwards, a former NFL cornerback, didn’t stop there. He wandered over to the defensive backs and dispensed some of the position’s finer points.

Edwards moved with a purpose from station to station at the partial squad minicamp, imparting his wisdom here and there.

For the participating veterans held over from the Dick Vermeil era, Edwards’ involvement meant a startling change. While Vermeil was mostly content to watch practice and let his assistants do the teaching, Edwards made himself right at home.

“When you see me not being hands-on, you let me know. I’m going to be that kind of coach,” Edwards said. “I’m going to get involved with all of the positions. I know what they’re doing. I have it right on my script what guys are trying to do every day offensively and defensively, both sides of the ball.

“They’ll feel my energy because I’m going to give it to them every day. If you come to practice every day, this is the way you’ll see me every day.”

Dressed in shorts, a sweatshirt and a Chiefs ball cap on a blustery day, Edwards, 52, could have passed for one of his players. He interrupted the linebacker drill by getting into a crouch and backpedaling the way he did as a player for 10 NFL seasons.

Then he stepped aside to assess whether his teaching had an effect.

“ ‘There you go, now you’ve got it,’ ” he shouted after one linebacker, Rich Scanlon, used the proper technique.

“ ‘Don’t overstride,’ ” he yelled to Keyaron Fox.

The episode was a surprise to Fox, a third-year linebacker accustomed to Vermeil’s ways.

“He jumps in and offers demonstrations and everything,” Fox said. “He can kind of move a little bit, too, from what I saw. It’s exciting to work with somebody like that who can get in there at any position and show you the ropes.”

At one point in the afternoon practice, Edwards pitched in relief of receivers coach Charlie Joiner by throwing passes during a position drill.

“I have fun throwing in the receiver drills,” Edwards said. “I did that even in New York sometimes.”

Edwards spent the most time, of course, with the secondary. He gathered a group of defensive backs around him during the afternoon practice and instructed them to watch nothing but quarterback Brodie Croyle during the subsequent play.

“ ‘Look at his front hand,’ ” Edwards told them. “ ‘Until he drops that front hand, you don’t need to do anything. Just stay in your zone. Once he drops that front hand, he’s getting ready to throw. Then you be ready to break on the ball.’ ”

His young pupils soaked in every word.

“I’ve never seen a head coach be involved like that,” safety Scott Connot said. “But it’s great. He played the game. He knows it better than anybody. It’s great when he gets out there and interacts with us.

“In the meeting today, he stepped in and reminded us that he played the game, that he understands it, that he played in a Super Bowl. He’s done it all. He knows what has to be done.”

The Chiefs will find out this fall whether Edwards’ methods will help improve their forlorn defense. But his unorthodox ways are part of the package the Chiefs received when they hired Edwards.

Edwards does things his way on the practice field. His assistant coaches stand aside when the head coach makes his various points.

“I told my coaches that,” Edwards said. “I prepped them for that. I said, ‘Hey, when I walk in, don’t think I’m trying to outcoach you.’ I’m going to coach. I’m not going to be a head coach who walks around. When I walk around and I see something and I’m able to give a point or two to a player, these coaches don’t mind. We’re all just trying to get better.”■■■■■■■■■

■ VETERANS BACK IN ACTION: Fox and cornerback Julian Battle returned to the field Friday after suffering major injuries in 2005. Fox injured his knee last September in Oakland, and Battle ruptured his Achilles’ tendon in minicamp last summer.

Both were expected to play big roles on the defense last fall. Fox was the Chiefs’ top backup at outside linebacker, and Battle was supposed to compete for Eric Warfield’s starting job.

Depending on what happens in the Ty Law sweepstakes, Battle could be one of the top candidates to replace Warfield.

“This is going to be a big year for Julian, for his career,” Edwards said. “I think he’s a guy that wants to grab a hold of it and try to make something out of his career instead of being a guy that has a lot of talent.”

■ ANOTHER ALLEN: After five years away, tackle Ian Allen is back with the Chiefs. Allen agreed to a one-year contract with Kansas City after spending 2005 in Arizona.

Allen entered the NFL as a rookie free agent with the Chiefs in 2001 and then played for the New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles and Cardinals.

■ RETURN TO ROOTS: Defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham got started as an NFL coach working with defensive linemen. Cunningham went back to his roots in Friday’s practices. He filled in for missing defensive-line coach Tim Krumrie, who was attending his daughter’s college graduation ceremony and was expected back today.

“He’s dying right now,” Edwards said of the notoriously intense Krumrie. “He wants to be here. His players are probably going, ‘Whoo, he’s not back yet. Can he stay (away) for another day or two?’ I told them he’s coming back and they better get ready.”

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