OPENING REMARKS: “We completed our first day of rookie camp. This is our opportunity to kind of introduce all these young players into our program. There are a lot of different things being thrown at them in a lot of different areas, but really it’s our first real opportunity to introduce them into our weight, strength and conditioning program, where they’ll get an hour-long lecture on that. They’ve got a half hour with football operations. Here in about a half an hour, they’re going to meet with our Player Development Director. We’re going to have a little dinner tonight.
“We have a strong conviction on doing it this way with just the rookies in here this first time because I think it really gives them the chance to get their feet wet without that added pressure of guys that know what to do a little better than what they know. It kind of gives them the chance to get their feet under them and have a chance to succeed. It’ll give them a little better chance this next go-round.
“It’s a very important weekend for us and for them. It’s just really critical that they get a lot out of this and go back home, which they have to go back home, that’s by NCAA rule, no matter what; whether they’re in school, out of school, graduated, not graduated, they’ve got to go back home until May 16. Right now, they are 18 workouts behind the guys (veterans) that have been here since the end of March, and by the time they get back, they’ll be 27 workouts behind. It was pretty obvious today during practice that they’re well behind (in terms of the conditioning program).”
Q: How much football do you throw at them the next few days?
HALEY: “Offense, defense, special teams. They’ll get a decent dose. Today was relatively light and I don’t think they could have handled a whole lot more. Their heads were spinning as it was. The trick that I’ve learned is, you give them enough that they’re learning something – they’re starting to get their hands into the offense, defense or special teams – but that yet you can still evaluate them. That’s really what I stressed to them from last night, every time I talk to them, I’ll talk to them about how they’re being evaluated at all times. They’re being evaluated by how they sit in the meeting room. Are they taking notes? How they are on the field? Everything they do, they’re being evaluated and they need to understand that. One of those things is, are they able to learn what we’re throwing at them? But at the same time, we’ve got to try to figure out if these guys have the ability they need to help us.”
Q: When you say they’ve got a ways to go, what do you mean by that?
HALEY: “Conditioning. A lot of these guys have been on the circuit (visiting teams pre-draft). We told them as they were coming through here, all the guys that came through here, you try to warn them that, ‘You were in Detroit yesterday; you’re going to Baltimore after this. Even if you’re trying to work out, you have very little chance of doing what’s necessary.’ They’re behind, and if you’re not doing football-related things, if you’re just sitting at Lifetime (Fitness), running on a treadmill, watching TV in an air-conditioned situation, no matter what you’re doing, it’s not going to be the same thing.”
Q: What were your first impressions of DB
HALEY: “I am excited about all the guys, I really am. I think there is a positive energy about this whole group and he is definitely one of the guys giving it off. The other thing I continually remind them of is that they don’t know anything right now. They don’t know what they don’t know, so they are all in the same boat. This will not change as long as I am here and I know it won’t change as long as (General Manager) Scott (Pioli) is here. We don’t care how you got here. Once you are here, you are just another helmet with a piece of tape on it. We are going to try and figure out if you can help us win.”
Q: How valuable was that positive energy for an organization that hasn’t won much in the past few years? It’s got to be good to get that positive attitude coming in with young guys?
HALEY: “It’s all part of the program. You just continually bring in competition and in that competition, you try to bring in the right high football character guys that it means a lot to. He (Berry), along with this whole group, I’m pretty excited about it. We’ll see, but they’re finding their way. Like I said, their heads are spinning, but there is a positive energy from this group.”
HALEY: “Hope he grows, too (laughs). We’ve got to acclimate him into our way of doing it. Like the guys that have been here, I’m really excited about the off-season program this year. Coach (Mike) Clark and Coach (Brent) Salazar are doing a tremendous job and the guys are really eating it up. They’re much further along than they were last year at this time, just because it is a year later and they understand what to expect. I’m excited about what they’ve been doing and I’m excited to get these young guys into the program as fast as possible, unfortunately, there are rules involved that they can’t be here.”
Q: You presumably like McCluster’s speed. If you’re trying to bulk him up, how important is the balance between getting him stronger, but also not getting him too strong to the point that if affects his speed?
HALEY: “It takes special ability and character guys to make it at that size; otherwise the league would be filled with small, fast guys. We feel he’s got the right combination of quickness, speed and strength which is a key thing when you start talking about smaller receivers or backs. The guys that seem to find their way successfully that are of smaller stature, generally they’re guys you hear strength guys say, ‘pound-for-pound the strongest guy on the team,’ at least the ones I’ve been around – the WR Wayne Chrebets. WR Dante Hall, he was a strong guy. They need that extra strength to make it. Those are the things you hear about him, he’s pound-for-pound the strongest guy at Mississippi. Again, that all went into the process.”
Q: Is it more important to test these guys mentally or physically when they come in here for rookie camp?
HALEY: “I think it is the whole package. They are being evaluated with everything they do. It is not just confined to the football field; it is not just confined to the weight room or the meeting room. Sitting there eating, tonight at dinner, they are going to be evaluated and that is the way it is. That is the way you continue to press and push and make sure that everybody is thinking and doing the right things.”
Q: Do you have a sense of what kind of productivity you might get out of this year’s group?
HALEY: “No, again, this is a time of high hopes for everyone. I am excited about the guys that have been here working out. I can’t stress that enough, I know I go over the top on this off-season (program), but it is so critical to success and you must be pushing towards the top in that area to have a chance to sustain and be a good team over the long haul. I am really excited about what these guys are doing here on a daily basis and I am excited about the guys that just got here. This is an important weekend for all of us and then we will be chomping at the bit to get these guys back and going with their teammates.”
Q: Do you think you are getting more out of your rookie class this year than you did last year?
HALEY: “We just need to be a better team, Adam. As I told these guys, this is a show-me game and it is about one thing, winning games. We have to be a better team and we plan on being just that.”
Q: So are you looking forward to May 16th when you can get your young guys in here?
HALEY: “There are some schools that have later graduation dates so that date (for us) is pushed back even further. Now if a guy is graduated, the guy can come in on May 16th. None of these guys, even if they lived right on the corner, would be able to be in here.”
Q: I know it happened (late graduation date) to CB
HALEY: “Since Donald’s name came up, I am excited about him. You can tell that he has a year under his belt and kind of knows the lay of the land and is putting a lot into it right now to give himself a chance to compete and succeed.”
Q: You had seven first-year guys out there. What is the standard for them being able to participate in this?
HALEY: “Not an accrued season. They all chose to take part. It is actually a huge benefit for those guys because they haven’t played a lot, any really. They have been around the team some, but they get a chance to get a little head start and I think it gives them a little edge here as we go forward.”
Q: Considering McCluster’s size, did you guys consider him a higher-risk, higher-reward type pick considering he’s not your prototype wide receiver?
HALEY: “No, I wouldn’t say he was ever viewed like that. I think he was viewed as a talented player that was one of our highest-ranked running backs on the board, one of our highest-ranked receivers and a guy we think can really get something going in the return game. He is really an exciting player that can do a lot. As Scott (Pioli) mentioned on draft day, when we started to weigh variables on draft day like how many plays this guy could play, that is something that comes into play really quick here for us, especially dressing 45 guys. You have to have guys that can play a lot one way or another. He is a guy with ability and talent at multiple positions that I am excited about.”
Q: How quickly do you throw all these positions at a guy like him?
HALEY: “We are going to get his feet wet in a couple different areas this weekend without over doing it. Keep the reins on a little bit. His head is spinning, too.”
Q: Are the Chiefs interested in DT John Henderson?
HALEY: “I will restrict conversations in this room to players on our team.”