Camp Notebook: Chiefs hope to carry momentum from preseason opener

Posted Aug 13, 2012

Training Camp Notebook Presented by Heartland Health

St. Joseph, Mo – His offensive line opened up big holes for ball carriers to burst through. His running backs impressed, gouging the Arizona Cardinals for big yards on each carry. And his quarterback was spot-on, delivering accurate passes to open receivers.

When he reviewed the tape of last Friday’s game, Romeo Crennel liked what he saw from his offense. In their first preseason test, the Chiefs starters handled the Arizona Cardinals and showed the head coach that they’re a little more prepared for the 2012 season than he initially thought.

“You go into the game and you think that if it goes this way, we’ll feel good about it, but generally, you don’t think that you are going to drive it 12 plays and score on your first drive,” Crennel admitted during his press conference on Monday. “You figure that if you can get a first down or maybe two first downs that that will be a good start. But, to drive it all the way down and score, that was a better than usual, better than I expected.”

Few could blame the head coach to check his preseason expectations. The Chiefs offense averaged less than ten points per contest in the three games with Crennel at the helm in 2011. It was also the first time they’d taken the field to test a new offense installed this offseason.

But against the Cardinals, the Chiefs offense erupted in their first game action since winning the 2011 regular season finale 7-3 in Denver. And they outscored that three-game average in the first 13 minutes alone with two quick touchdowns.

The Chiefs’ first two offensive possessions mixed a ball-controlling power running game with a high-octane passing game that took its shots downfield. It was the perfect recipe for Crennel, who understands how difficult it is to defend against a multi-faceted attack as a defensive-minded coach.

“You have to cover all of your bases all of the time,” said Crennel about what a balanced offense can do against a defense. “If they can run the ball and they have the ability to hit you deep and get chunk plays, you have to defend everything all the time and you aren’t able to eliminate anything, which makes it a little bit tougher to defend.”

Crennel was impressed by just how indefensible his offense looked Friday night. Players haven’t had a full offseason to digest offensive coordinator Brian Daboll’s new playbook, but against the Cardinals, they looked like they were all on the same page.

The head coach said his offense will need to keep up their pace against the Rams this weekend.

“You temper it because this one didn’t count,” said Crennel “But, I think you have to acknowledge that what they did was good. The first half was a good first half. The first units did a good job, and so you have to acknowledge that. And, you do have to protect against them getting a big head because everyone else is telling the how great they are, but they are not great yet.”

Poe’s First Go

For months, the Chiefs’ top draft pick wondered what a game at Arrowhead Stadium would be like. Dontari Poe got his answer on Friday night.

“It was everything that I dreamed the NFL would be like,” Poe said about his first NFL action. “It was exhilarating. (Getting to play) was the most fun thing ever.”

That fun quickly turned to business against the Cardinals, though.  Poe echoed the sentiments of Romeo Crennel, who said he “had a lot to learn” earlier last week. On several plays, the rookie nose tackle realized that fact firsthand.

“I have to keep working with my hands,” said Poe. “It’s pretty much the same stuff I came in with. I’m going to keep working hard, keep staying after practice, and I’ll get it down.”

He’s getting valuable experience with every snap. At the beginning of the 2nd quarter, Poe entered the game on a third-down and long and helped generate a solid pass rush. Cardinals quarterback John Skelton was forced to throw off-balance because of that rush, and when he did, safety Abram Elam swooped in for an interception.

On another play, Poe swallowed up two blocks as outside linebacker Cameron Sheffield crashed the edge for a tackle.

Those plays gave the rookie a taste of what he’s expected to do in Crennel’s 3-4 defense. And that taste has made Poe hungrier for his next snap in St. Louis.

“I’m addicted to the adrenaline right now,” said Poe. “I just have to keep getting better.”

Take Five: Quick Hitters from Monday’s Practice

1. Fullback Shane Bannon (abdominal) returned to the field for the afternoon session. Brandon Flowers (foot) missed practice again, but Crennel said he was hopeful that the corner would be able to heal quickly. Running back Cyrus Gray (undisclosed) walked off the field under his own power in the afternoon practice. Also missing practice: Travis Daniels (groin/hamstring), Junior Hemingway (groin), Ethan Johnson (head/chin), Cameron Sheffield (undisclosed), and Dwayne Bowe (contract).

2. Cornerback Jacques Reeves recovered nicely in wide receiver-cornerback drills to tip a long pass away at the last moment. Jamar Newsome made Reeves bite on a double move before turning upfield, but Reeves caught up, turned his head around, and smacked the ball away as it fell over Newsome’s left shoulder.

3. Devon Wylie had his best day of camp thus far. The rookie receiver accelerated past defenders during his first punt return of the day, cutting across the field and into the end zone for a score. He followed that up with an impressive, one-handed touchdown catch in 11-on-11 drills. Quarterback Ricky Stanzi was flushed right, forcing Wylie to break off his route. Stanzi floated up a pass over Reeves, and Wylie hauled it in with one extended arm.

4. Tight end Kevin Boss snagged an interception away from Jalil Brown in 11-on-11 drills. On a play action fake, Matt Cassel found Boss on a post over the middle. Brown broke on the ball and nearly caught it, but Boss pulled it away for a 20-yard reception which earned some applause from the crowd at Missouri Western State University.

5. Another incredible touchdown by Jonathan Baldwin. This time, he outran Javier Arenas from the line of scrimmage, and then bolted to the corner of the end zone. Stanford Routt caught up and tried to help, but the second-year receiver outleapt both cornerbacks for a great reception in double coverage.

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