Top draft pick jumps right in


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Jan 22, 2006
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Posted on Sat, May. 20, 2006
CHIEFS notebook

Top draft pick jumps right in
Hali plays on No. 1 defense at minicamp
The Kansas City Star

When Herm Edwards said he expected Tamba Hali to make an immediate impact, he wasn’t joking.

Fewer than three weeks after Hali was picked in the first round of the draft, he was running with the No. 1 defense on Friday when the Chiefs started mandatory minicamp.

Hali’s quick ascension, of course, had a lot to do with the fact that veteran defensive end Eric Hicks didn’t practice. Hicks had shoulder surgery this winter and will watch Hali, an All-American from Penn State, play on the first unit this weekend.

Hicks hurt his right shoulder in the Giants game Dec. 17. He still managed to finish out the season, his seventh as a starter.

“I’m right on schedule,” Hicks said. “I’ll be back in time for training camp.”

He’ll have plenty of competition when he returns. Chiefs vice president for player personnel Bill Kuharich compared Hali’s motor to Pro Bowl tackle La’Roi Glover, who signed with the St. Louis Rams in the offseason.

“He looked as described,” Kuharich said after Hali arrived. “I’m not into instant evaluation. With offensive and defensive linemen, the whole thing is pads. So ask me the same question 10 days into minicamp.”

■ NO ROAF: Friday began minus one big lineman and with two Pro Bowlers watching.

Left tackle Willie Roaf missed practice because of personal reasons, coach Herm Edwards said. Even if he was around, Roaf probably wouldn’t have practiced anyway, because he has a strained hamstring. Edwards quickly said that it’s not the same hamstring that bothered Roaf through much of 2005 and that the injury isn’t as serious.

Tight end Tony Gonzalez was held out of the first practice because of a sore foot, and a sprained thumb sidelined receiver Dante Hall.

“We’re just kind of holding them back at this point,” Edwards said.

Gonzalez did some work in the afternoon.

■ BROWNING BACK: There was no official announcement because veteran defensive tackle John Browning rarely speaks, at least in public, but he apparently will be back this fall.

Browning has battled nagging back problems. But his presence Friday said everything, Edwards said.

“He’s here, he’s been around, he’s practicing,” Edwards said. “I haven’t heard anything different.”

■ PRIEST WATCH: Another day, another round of Priest Holmes questions.

Chiefs president/general manager Carl Peterson said Holmes is “making progress” after suffering a neck injury in late October. If the season started today, Holmes wouldn’t play, Peterson said, because doctors are still concerned about contact.

Edwards said again Friday that he’s still expecting Holmes back, and downplayed the talk that the Chiefs are interested in New Orleans Saints running back Michael Bennett as a backup.

“At this time of year, there are a lot of people who call about players,” Edwards said. “We call about players. That’s what you do during the offseason. At this point he’s not here, we haven’t brought him in here, and we haven’t talked about him collectively as a group with the powers that be.

“I think he’s a good player, but we’ve got good players here. I think sometimes we lose sight of the players that we have here. I’m going to coach the players that we have here. Let’s get the players here to play up to their potential and play at a consistent level where we can be a playoff team.”

■ CUTS: The Chiefs have released wide receivers Kyle Brown, Ryan Waller and Travis La Tendresse and tackle Derek Morris.
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