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Camp Notebook: DJ and Dustin reflect on Willie

Posted Aug 4, 2012

Chiefs Training Camp Notebook Presented by Heartland Health

St. Joseph, Mo. – Former Chiefs and Saints offensive tackle Willie Roaf is set to receive football’s highest honor Saturday night when he will be immortalized into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

Roaf last played for the Chiefs in 2005, but his legacy is still felt in training camp seven seasons later.

Just two players on the Chiefs 90-man training camp roster can say they once called the 11-time Pro Bowler one of their teammates. Derrick Johnson and Dustin Colquitt were rookies at the time, and neither worked on the same side of the football as Roaf, but the massive left tackle left an immediate impression that both players vividly remember seven seasons later.

“My first road game, I was a specialist, a rookie, and my stuff is draped on a seat in front of my locker, and Roaf sits down on it at halftime,” recalled Colquitt. “I’m like, ‘guess its mesh sorts on the way home because my suit is wet.’

“He is an awesome man and was just a great dude in our locker room. When he left, it obviously took us a few years to kind of rebound from that. I wish him all the best. He’s such a great dude. I’m looking forward to seeing the ceremony. Obviously, I can’t go.”

Johnson experienced Roaf’s dominance first-hand as a 4-3 outside linebacker.

“Willie Roaf was the best lineman I’ve been around, he’s probably the biggest lineman I’ve been around and he’s probably one of the fastest linemen I’ve ever been around,” Johnson said. “He’s a guy that you can ask any defensive end or outside linebacker and they’ll tell you he’s the best in the business. You couldn’t get around him.

“The way he walked, you wouldn’t think he couldn’t run. He had this old man type of limp when he walked, but when he got on the field he’d pull around that corner so fast. Larry Johnson and Priest Holmes had the time of their lives running behind that man. There’s no doubt about it.”

Kansas City was pro football’s most prolific offense over the four seasons that Roaf wore Red and Gold (2002-05), leading the NFL in yards (24,797) and points (1,837) over that timeframe. Quarterback Trent Green never missed a game with Roaf protecting his blindside as the Chiefs re-wrote numerous offensive franchise records.

New Orleans dealt Roaf to Kansas City for a fourth-round draft pick prior to the 2002 season. Roaf had missed most of 2001 with a knee injury and arrived in Kansas City with a chip on his shoulder.

"I just wanted to comeback and really establish myself as one of the best tackles again,” Roaf recalled in a national conference call earlier this month. “It was more when I got hurt and left, I still had some football left in me. Going to Kansas City and getting another chance gave me a spark.

"Sometimes you go through adversity and it was a good thing. I needed that to get me motivated to want to play some more football. I think that is the reason I got in the Hall so early, because I did play on those real good lines in Kansas City."

Kansas City’s five-some of Roaf, Brian Waters, Casey Wiegmann, Will Shields and John Tait rivals some of the best offensive lines in the history of the game.

Returning Big Returns

The Chiefs finished 2011 ranked sixth in punt return average at 11.9 yards per return. But while Kansas City’s punt returners were consistent, they weren’t explosive.

The team’s longest punt return last season was just 37 yards and the Chiefs haven’t expereinced a return score in any capacity since Dexter McCluster’s 94-yarder against San Diego in the 2010 season opener.

“The average was good, but that is not something we aim for,” said return man Javier Arenas. “We aim for exceeding all expectations on special teams. The goal is to score as many times as we can. We have to do everything we can to do everything right, and that starts here in training camp.”

Arenas is competing with a number of prospective returners in camp. His biggest competition thus far appears to be fourth-round pick Devon Wylie, a speedster out of Fresno State whose 15.38 yards per return placed him fourth in the nation last season.

Wylie is working as a kickoff returner in training camp as well.

“I’m not going to try and figure out what they were taught in the past,” said new special teams coach Tom McMahon. “What we have to do is execute what we call. Some have abilities to hit one outside or inside, but what I have to do as a coach is call the right return for the right player, to give them a chance to produce.”

Arenas, Wylie, Dexter McCluster and Steve Breaston have fielded punts throughout camp. Working as kickoff returners during Saturday’s practice were Arenas, Wylie, McCluster, Cyrus Gray and Mikail Baker.

Kansas City ranked 30th in kickoff return average last season at 21.3 yards per return.

Take Five: Quick-Hitters from Family Fun Day

1. General Manager Scott Pioli welcomed members of the Fighting Fifth Engineer Battalion as special guests for Family Fun Day. Troops and their families walked to the field down the players’ hill and received a standing ovation from Chiefs fans as they entered Spratt Stadium.

2. Held out of Saturday’s practice was Shane Bannon (abdominal), Patrick DiMarco (CBA Acclimation), Brandon Flowers (foot), Junior Hemingway (groin), Ethan Johnson (chin/head), Jacques Reeves (CBA Acclimation) and Dwayne Bowe (contract). Jamaal Charles and Tony Moeaki rested their knees with practice taking place on an artificial surface.

3. The defense had a solid day pressuring quarterbacks throughout practice. Glenn Dorsey had several pressures and Cameron Sheffield had an active day as well. The defense also added two interceptions – one from Kendrick Lewis on the first snap of 11-on-11 work when he jumped a 15-yard out form Matt Cassel to Kevin Boss and another when Jean Fanor picked off an underthrown post route from Ricky Stanzi to Terrance Copper in the end zone.

4. Brady Quinn had an outstanding day in the passing game. He hit Jeremy Horne in the back left corner of the end zone for a red zone touchdown and later found Josh Bellamy on a go route down the left sideline.

5. The Chiefs will have Sunday off before returning to camp on Monday. A joint-practice is scheduled with the Arizona Cardinals on Tuesday, August 7thDETAILS HERE

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