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Camp Report: Chiefs Wrap Up Preseason Practices

Posted Aug 30, 2011

Roster spots still at stake in Green Bay; Chiefs get thinner at offensive tackle

Preseason practices came to a close Tuesday afternoon, leaving Wednesday morning’s walkthrough and Thursday night’s game as the remaining events on the Chiefs training camp calendar. Though the preseason is nearly over, Head Coach Todd Haley says that many roster spots remain undecided heading into the preseason finale in Green Bay.

“I made it pretty clear to all of them at the start of the week that there was still a lot of competition going on in a number of different areas,” Haley said. “And some of those areas [are] in the front line, some of those areas [are] in the second core and some of them even into the third.

“So, they’re well aware of that and I think are working accordingly. We’re going to have some tough decisions to make and to me, this year is going to be tougher than either of the previous two years.”

Players have the day off Friday before roster cuts arrive Saturday afternoon.

“It’s really hard not to think about (roster cuts coming), but it is there and it’s just how the business is,” LB Cory Greenwood said. “You have to try and put that aside and concentrate on the next game at hand and pretty much just do what you can control and that’s how you play.

“In the backrooms, where the coaches are making decisions, you just have to be able to show up on film and do the right thing.”

O’Callaghan’s IR Status Makes Gaither’s Progress Even More Important

Until Jared Gaither was signed, Ryan O’Callaghan was only reserve offensive tackle with any NFL experience on the Chiefs roster. Now that O’Callaghan has landed on injured reserve, Gaither is the only reserve offensive tackle with any NFL experience on the Chiefs roster.

Unfortunately, Gaither’s beginning in Kansas City has been a slow one. With the regular season approaching, depth remains a concern at the tackle position.

“I’ve been comfortable with Barry [Richardson] and Branden [Albert],” Haley said. “I’m getting more and more comfortable with Jared as he’s come along physically.”

Gaither has showed progress over the past week of practices. He made his Chiefs debut with the second-team offense at left tackle last Friday night against St. Louis and has continued practicing behind Branden Albert as the Chiefs prepare to close out the preseason schedule in Green Bay.

“He’s getting up to speed now,” Haley said. “He made big progress this week. In the last game I was happy he was even in there for kind of the plan we had for him. And now this week, he’s been able to build on it. I think we all like some things we’re seeing out of him, so that’s good.”

Now that O’Callaghan will miss all of 2011, Gaither’s progress becomes even more important to the Chiefs. Haley still believes Gaither can play both tackle positions despite repping primarily on the left side this preseason.

“He’s done that so that’s the good thing we have,” Haley said. “We have three guys, and those three that have shown very good position flexibility. Again, it is what it is right now, I’m just excited that [No.] 71 is making progress and getting better and getting up to speed.”

Undrafted free agents Butch Lewis, David Mims and Chris Harr round out the Chiefs tackle competition. Lewis has been first off the bench as a reserve.

G/C Darryl Harris is the only other reserve lineman with NFL experience at any position across the Chiefs offensive front and he owns just one game under his belt. Unfortunately, Harris hasn’t practiced in several weeks after suffering an injury in St. Joseph.

Zorn Shows Skill

The “bucket drill” made its return to practice Tuesday afternoon – two trash cans stacked on top of one another and placed in the back corner of the end zone for quarterbacks to loft the football into. Throwing from about 30-yard away, an unexpected winner arose Tuesday afternoon.

Tuesday’s Final Score

QBs Coach Jim Zorn: 3

Off. Quality Control Coach Nick Sirianni: 1

Chiefs QBs: 0

“Coach Zorn still has it,” QB Matt Cassel said laughing. “He’s got some great skill sets and he made some great throws today. We were all pretty bummed. When you walk away, you feel pretty devastated when your position coach is beating you in those drills.

Celebration typically ensues after anyone hits the Bull’s-eye, but Zorn’s accuracy was unprecedented. After missing horribly on his first attempt and taking some heckling from the quarterbacks, Zorn had the last laugh.

“But I did have to call Coach Zorn out on his footwork,” Cassel said. “He was drifting in the pocket and I’m not so sure he would have gotten those (throws) off.”

Other Notes

- Team reps were once again first-team heavy Tuesday morning. After practice, Haley hinted that Chiefs starters would be in line to see action Thursday night.

“I would say our core guys will have a good amount of playing time, according to how we laid things out this year, it may not be the same it’s always been.”

- Working out on stationary bikes and with the strength and conditioning staff were WR Jonathan Baldwin, G/C Darryl Harris, G Ryan Lilja, OLB Gabe Miller, T Ryan O’Callaghan and TE Jake O’Connell.

- Baldwin continues to work on route-running with strength and conditioning coach Mike Clark, but has yet to return to any team portions of practice.

- O’Connell went through individual drills before heading to the stationary bikes for the rest of practice.

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