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Insider Blog: Competition Push

Posted May 19, 2010

Competition is starting to spread across the Chiefs roster and the term is beginning to carry more weight

When the Chiefs take the field for today’s OTA session, versatility and competition are the two primary words that will come to mind. In a nutshell, this off-season has been all about adding those those two things to the roster.

From the player additions to the new coaching hires, everything in some way, shape or form revolves around competing and utilizing versatility. The specific kind of versatility doesn’t matter and neither does the primary location of the competition, what matters is that it’s there and that it begins to spread across the board.

“We have better competition than we had last year at this point and that is the bottom line,” head coach Todd Haley said. “The more competition you can bring in at each spot, the better team you have a chance to be.”

On far too many occasions over the past three seasons a sense of urgency has appeared to be missing at Arrowhead. It’s not something that can be pinned specifically to one occasion, one move or one season. The phenomenon is something that has developed over time. It’s never been about a lack of want or motivation, but rather a lack of push.

Incumbents were far too comfortable and serious competition across the roster was lacking. The player was either young or he was old; he was a starter or he was a reserve. Weak positions were weak and strong positions were incredibly strong. Rarely did it seem like the two sides collided with one another and the term “Open Competition” was generally followed with a roll of the eyes.

This past off-season, moves were centered around eliminating comfort and increasing urgency.

The NFL’s third leading rusher in 2009 (Thomas Jones) was brought and will battle for time with one of the league’s brightest young runners (Jamaal Charles). A veteran center (Casey Wiegmann) who hasn’t missed a snap since 2001 was brought in to compete with the only player that started all 16 games along the Chiefs offensive line last year (Rudy Niswanger). A possession receiver (Jerheme Urban) was brought in to compete with a slew of receivers, which was then countered by the drafting of a receiver within the top 50 picks (Dexter McCluster).

This list goes on from the safety position to the interior offensive line and on out to the return duties. What remains constant is an effort to increase the sense of competition across the board with players who can be utilized in multiple ways.

“I think we brought in a bunch of competition,” Haley said specific to the safety position. “Reshard (Langford) being one coming in late last year, two young guys that we drafted (Eric Berry and Kendrick Lewis). We were able to bring in competition to the position which again, I think is the secret to having success.

“You can’t do everything at once, but I do feel at that particular position we’ve brought in good competition to push everybody to be the best they can be and the best guys will play and we’ll be better for it,” Haley continued.

Langford was a surprise “starter” during Monday’s OTA, drawing a nod with the first-teamers over veteran DaJuan Morgan, rookie Eric Berry and a handful of other potential candidates. Granted, it was the first day in a series of shorts and helmets only practices, none of the rookies drew first-team reps and the Chiefs were missing the services of a defensive back that has started the past three seasons (Jarrad Page).

Still, Langford’s role represented something on Monday morning; his role represented a sense of increased competition. He earned his way with a solid rookie camp (open to first-year players like Langford) and off-season program.

Langford’s not guaranteed to make this team and he’s not even guaranteed to run with the first group later today, but neither are most of the players behind him. That’s the difference between now and previous seasons.

Langford will have to keep up doing whatever earned him first-team repetitions and his competitors will have to overtake that effort in order to beat him out. That’s what competition is all about.

The Chiefs increased competition at the safety position isn’t the only one of its kind; it was just the most noticeable on Monday. There will probably be another similar example following today’s practice. These types of things are starting to occur more frequently across the board and that’s about all anyone can ask right now.

Let the cards fall where they may, but make sure somebody pushes to make them fall.

Kansas City is schedule to hit the field for a third consecutive day of OTAs around 10:30 AM. Updates will follow after the conclusion of practice.

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