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Insider Blog: Friday at Camp

Posted Jun 11, 2010

Take a step inside Chiefs Mini-Camp with Friday's practice report

UPDATED AT 6:30 PM

Outside of Chiefs head coach Todd Haley bringing in officials for this weekend’s practice sessions, mini-camp looks a whole lot like OTAs.

Like nearly every other day of the 2010 on-field off-season program, all players under contract were in attendance. The lone Chief missing from Friday’s AM workout was Jarrad Page. Page is still without a contract and isn’t expected to show for practices this weekend.

As for the differences between mini-camp and OTA practices, you’d need knowledge of the practice script to spot the differences. Luckily, we’ve been here for every minute of on-field work and can break that down for you.

A period devoted solely to special teams work was an emphasis for today, as was an extension of team periods (offense vs. defense). For the first time this off-season, special teams coach Steve Hoffman ran his personnel through unit-specific special teams drills. This morning, the focus was with the punt team. With five practices this weekend, it’s a safe bet that the Chiefs will work on a different teams unit each day (ie, field goal block, kickoff return, kickoff, punt return).

From the standpoint of situational team periods, the Chiefs worked on 1st and 2nd down run plays, with play-action sprinkled to keep the defense honest. The script also called for 2nd and 10 plays which had a heavy emphasis on screen and draw plays.

“This is just a little different deal – it’s a lot of review,” Haley said. “Probably 90 percent review for everybody which I think will be real good for everybody involved. For the rookies, it’ll now be their third time through it. In addition I think you saw a lot more team plays out there, so that gives us a little more time to evaluate some of the guys that during the OTAs.”

Players Held Out of Practice (Rehab/Conditioning Zone)

WR Quinten Lawrence

WR Lance Long

CB Brandon Flowers

RB Jamaal Charles

TE Brad Cottam

Another name came off the list today with Brodie Croyle returning to action. Croyle had missed over a week of practice after delivering a red zone pass to WR Jerheme Urban in the back of the end zone. On his follow-thru, Croyle hit his throwing hand on the helmet of a defender and the training staff was called on immediately to treat the nasty gash.

Croyle has since gotten the stitches out of his right pointer finger and returned to drills as the top reserve under starter Matt Cassel. In Croyle’s absence, Tyler Palko received a long look running with the second team.

“I think that Tyler has a chance,” Haley said. “He comes from a football background, he is energetic and he has been around some really good quarterbacks in the years following school. He has had great exposure in New Orleans with QB Drew Brees and Sean Payton who I know really well. He spent time in Arizona with QB Kurt (Warner) and Kenny (Whisenhunt). I am excited about some of the things he is doing. He is like all the others, he is working hard to compete and give himself a chance to make the team.”

Rookie TE Tony Moeaki also extended his practice work this morning, going full for the first time since OTAs began on May 17th. Nursing a minor injury, Moeaki had been completely held out of all OTA drills until earlier this week. Even upon his initial return, he was limited to just individual work.

Zebras Become Teachers

Bringing NFL officials into mini-camp and training camp practices isn’t something out of the ordinary for teams across the league. In fact, as odd as it might seem, the players seem to enjoy having men dedicated to confirming catches, pass interference and holds during competitive drills during the team period.

But this weekend, Haley is taking the duties of the zebras a bit further; he’s inviting them into the classroom.

“They came out with us and they will be here the whole weekend,” Haley said. “They are going to watch tape with groups in between practices and coach them up. They will help explain in more detail from their perspective the rules to the guys. It is an effort to educate, learn and eliminate penalties.”

Kansas City finished in the top-10 last season, charged with just 84 penalties in all of 2009. Green Bay led the league with 118.

“They are there to help us know what we can get away with or what we’ll get called on,” Moeaki said of the officials. “It’s definitely a lot of help.”

Play of the Day

Chris Chambers had yet another nice practice, reeling in possibly the best catch of OTAs with a full-bodied, 45-degree extended grab during seven-on-seven drills. He looked to be running a quick slant on the play and Matt Cassel’s pass led Chambers high and to the left. Chambers got a round of applause from his offensive teammates and a “Nice catch Chris,” from offensive coordinator Charlie Weis.

They Keep Swapping

At the beginning of OTAs, incumbents Corey Mays and Demorrio Williams ran with the first team at inside linebacker. In a package deal, a personnel swap was made midway through OTA work, pitting Jovan Belcher and Derrick Johnson with the first team. Today, Mays and Williams returned to working with the first team defense.

This is obviously a four-man position battle that will last well into training camp.

“There’s evaluation going on all the time but until we get into pads and see (the small things) start to happen, I think is where depth chart stuff will become a little more important,” Haley said.

Conference Re-Alignment

No, the Chiefs haven’t accepted the bid to join the AFC South just yet. Really, the organization is still waiting on San Diego to make their decision regarding a possible swap to the NFC West.

Kidding.

But with NCAA conference re-alignment dominating the talk of the local sports scene this week, you knew that some alumni in the Chiefs locker room would be asked to comment on the matter.

This much is known. Former Nebraska LB Demorrio Williams sees only one ending if his Huskers join the Big Ten Conference (and since this article was originally posted, Nebraska has now joined the Big Ten).

“They’re going to dominate,” Williams proclaimed.

Any rebuttal?

“I don’t think so…I don’t think (Nebraska is going to dominate),” former Iowa TE Tony Moeaki said in response to Williams’ Husker pride.

Moeaki went on to say that it’s still hard for him to imagine the Big Ten expanding, but that he would have welcomed it as a player.

“I think it’s great,” Moeaki said. “I wish it could have happened while I was still there, especially with Iowa and Nebraska being Border States. That would have been a nice little rivalry.”

***Friday Afternoon Practice Update***

The first two-a-day of 2010 is in the bag and only one more such day remains before the Chiefs pack up shop and head to St. Joseph for training camp. The 2010 season is approaching faster than we recognize.

For the Chiefs second practice of Friday (and of mini-camp), Haley once again emphasized a practice period devoted solely to special teams. For this session, the point of emphasis was on the field goal and field goal block teams. Ryan Succop connected on 7-of-7 kicks in the period, with his longest connection coming from 31 yards.

Haley also had his squad line up for three separate periods of team drills. The practice concluded with 12 plays of third-down work pitting the offense up against the defense. Some of the highlights from the team periods of practice included…

On 1st and 2nd down drills Eric Berry and Kendrick Lewis were once again running with the first team. RB Thomas Jones took a couple snaps in the wildcat formation.

During 7-on-7 drill WR Chris Chambers made a diving catch on a post route deep down the field with a defender on his back. If his OTA work is any indication of things to come this season, Chiefs fans are going to be very pleased with Chambers.

Also in 7-on-7 drills Javier Arenas intercepted a QB Matt Cassel pass and had a lot of daylight in front of him. We’ll never know if it was a pick-six being practice, but he would have made a run at the end zone.

In the final session of 11-on-11 (3rd Downs) Cassel was intercepted by LB Derrick Johnson.

Finally, for the first time this off-season, we saw the Chiefs participate in one-on-one drills between the defensive backs and wide receivers. This is always one of the loudest and most competitive drills of practice. Here were the highlights…

McCluster’s speed and agility continues to shine, pulling away from multiple defenders on deep routes and cuts in one-on-one drills.

Kestahn Moore made a couple good catches this afternoon and he is a guy who is quietly beginning to stand out in the pack of reserve running backs.

Javier Arenas had a couple nice pass breakups in addition.

TE Brad Cottam, RB Jamaal Charles, WR Quinten Lawrence, CB Brandon Flowers, WR Lance Long were held out of the afternoon practice session once again. P Dustin Colquitt was not in attendance.

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