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Insider Blog: Influence Through Action

Posted Jul 21, 2010

Five players who can leave fans feeling good about the 2010 season by turning in a solid training camp performance

There’s the old saying among coaches: “You play like you practice.”

Starting next weekend, Chiefs practices will be open to the public. From July 30th – August 19th, thousands of fans in St. Joseph will get to watch every minute of Chiefs practice sessions, from the beginning of stretching to the final play of team period.

This is the place that we will all get our first impressions of the upcoming football season. We’ll feel good about some of the things that we see, while other developments may leave us feeling a bit uneasy. However, there are several players who can ensure positive 2010 vibes for most every Chiefs fan.

Here are five players who, if they can turn in an impressive training camp, will leave us all feeling very good about the prospects of the 2010 Kansas City Chiefs.

1)      QB Matt Cassel (6-4, 230); age 28

All eyes will be focused on Cassel from day one. After a flawless two-minute drill, there will be positive over-reaction. A less than desirable 7-on-7 period will follow with a similar over-reaction, this time swinging in the opposite direction.

Cassel’s second year in the Chiefs offensive system, coupled with numerous off-season additions both on the sidelines and between the hashes, has put the Chiefs quarterback square in the middle of the spotlight. Fair or not, Cassel will face the brunt of criticism when the Chiefs offense falters but gain much of the praise when it soars. How well he manages the ups and downs of a 16-game season will go a long way in determining what kind of year it’s going to be.

Starting off on the right foot would prove beneficial.

2)      LB Derrick Johnson (6-3, 242); age 27

It’s almost as if everyone wants to see DJ earn his way back in the starting lineup. And why not? For DJ, a return to the first-team defense would mean he has effectively convinced the Chiefs coaching staff that he can be counted on as a consistent, four-down performer. If so, the promotion will be from the full body of work that began with a game-breaking season-finale in Denver, which then continued into the off-season program and carried over into training camp.

When Johnson has played up to his full athletic potential, he’s easily been the biggest play-maker among his position group since arrival in 2005. DJ‘s freakish athletic talent is truly a gift that few footballers are blessed with. If Johnson can come out of St. Joe holding one of the starting inside linebacker positions, it will be because of high grades in the meeting rook; that could leave fans feeling much better about the Chiefs defense heading into Week One.

3)      DE Tyson Jackson (6-4, 296); age 24

The majority of Chiefs fans are rational when it comes to Jackson. On one hand, a relatively quiet rookie campaign was disheartening to see from such a high draft pick. On the other hand, fan IQ is high and the patience required involving rookie defensive linemen is understood; particularly with rookie d-linemen playing along a 3-4 front.

The rookie season is now over. This is year two. What we all want to see out of Jackson is that big, unmistakable, next step. The best defensive linemen tend to make a significant stride from year one to year two and there isn’t any reason that Jackson can’t join that trend.

4)      T Branden Albert (6-5, 316); age 25

Here’s another third-year performer that the Chiefs need to see take a big leap forward in 2010. Manning Cassel’s blind side, Albert will once again be the spotlight of the offensive line. Plain and simple, if Albert can have a breakout season, it’s more likely that Matt Cassel will as well. If Cassel breaks out, we all win.

5)      CB Brandon Carr (6-0, 207); age 24

Carr is coming off a very strong series of off-season practices. Most don’t expect Carr to relinquish his hold on the starting island opposite Brandon Flowers, but then again, 2010 is also a new year with new expectations and increased competition. Carr, by the way, has started all 32 games of his two-year NFL career – the only player of the 2008 draft class to do so.

In Kansas City, the belief that Flowers is one of the most under-the-radar corners in the entire league is nearly unanimous. It’s the other cornerback position that fans want to see progress. This is a big season for Carr, one that will probably tell a lot about his future.

Having sat out the entire OTA slate for precautionary measures (shoulder), Flowers will likely go through a minor acclimation period at the beginning of training camp. It would be optimal to see Carr outshine Flowers as the standout cornerback in the early-goings of camp in St. Joe.

24 years old…3rd season…rare size…great athletic ability…could this be the year that Carr breaks out?

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