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Insider Blog: Saturday at Mini-Camp

Posted Jun 12, 2010

Day Two of Chiefs Mini-Camp is underway; step inside

UPDATED – 6:00 PM

Heavy local rains triggered a series of flash flood warnings around the metro area on Saturday morning, forcing the Chiefs to head indoors for the second day of mini-camp. Once again, 86 of the 87 rostered players were in attendance. The lone exception remains Jarrad Page, who has yet to sign his restricted free agent tender offer.

Dustin Colquitt was back at the training facility Saturday morning after missing Friday’s PM practice session to welcome a new member into the Colquitt family.

Congrats Dustin!

Players Held Out of Practice (Rehab/Conditioning Zone)

WR Quinten Lawrence

WR Lance Long

CB Brandon Flowers

RB Jamaal Charles

TE Brad Cottam

The list stays the same and appears that it will remain “as is” throughout the rest of mini-camp, barring no new injuries. None of the players listed above have received practice repetitions this off-season.

Nickel Defense Draws Interest

During the first set of team drills (an emphasis on first and second down plays), Romeo Crennel marched out his nickel defense. The personnel grouping instantly stood out with OLB Mike Vrabel aligning in the interior. He was flanked by OLBs Andy Studebaker and Tamba Hali.

Vrabel, however, has received reps inside during nickel sets this week, so his presence at the position is certainly new, but not a shock. The real surprise in personnel came from the position directly in front of Vrabel. There, DE Wallace Gilberry was taking reps at defensive tackle.

Though Gilberry didn’t look to play any of the head-up zero techniques that Ron Edwards or the rest of the Chiefs cast of big men are asked to do, he still put his hand in the turf between the guards. Not many people have questioned Gilberry’s versatility, but most of the buzz involving a possible sub-package role for the 6’2, 268-pound Gilberry has been speculated towards an outside linebacker position.

Gilberry moving inside during nickel sets will be something to keep an eye on once training camp hits. Right now the Chiefs are mixing and matching personnel to see what they have in certain scenarios. Nevertheless, today’s nickel set has been one of the more interesting of the off-season program.

A year ago, Alex Magee would sometimes shift to the nose tackle position in the nickel package.

Why All The Mixing?

One practice Jon McGraw receives reps with the first-team defense. The next day, Kendrick Lewis might be getting a look. On the offensive side of things, the same thing can be said for the center position with Rudy Niswanger and Casey Wiegmann. A number of other positions, like inside linebacker, fit the same category too.

Competition has increased dramatically across the roster from a year ago, but why the constant changes in personnel? On Saturday, Chiefs head coach Todd Haley shared his philosophy about running players in and out of the first-team units.

“Sometimes when you just stay the same and nobody changes then you’re going against the same (guy),” Haley explained. “(A center) might be going against DT Shaun Smith every single snap. Then they get to know each other and they get to know each other’s little tricks and moves and steps. Just by moving guys in and out you create different matchups across the board. Really that’s all we’re trying.”

Haley also noted that depth charts will be taken into account on a more permanent basis once the pads come on in St. Joseph.

Play of the Day

Backup QB Brodie Croyle was on fire to start seven-on-seven drills in the AM practice session. He opened with three consecutive TD passes, all on similar corner routes that required him to thread the football between defenders, yet add enough touch to lead his receivers. The recipients of Croyle’s hat trick of TDs were TE Tony Moeaki, RB Tim Castille and WR Jeremy Horne.

Croyle’s hot start in the drill might have been “Play of the Day” worthy, but his one mistake in the session erased the candidacy.

On Croyle’s final snap of seven-on-seven work he looked to find a target in the back right corner of the end zone, but coverage was tight. Still hoping for a slim chance at the score, Croyle zipped a high throw that looked to be something in which only a receiver could grab (or else the football would find its way into the crowd should it be a real game day situation).

Instead of the football sailing out the back of the end zone, it found its way into DB Maurice Leggett’s hands. Leggett came off his man, drop stepped, and made an athletic leaping grab with full body control for the pick. Croyle’s pass had plenty of velocity on it, making Leggett’s INT all the more impressive.

***AFTERNOON PRACTICE UPDATE***

The same crew of Chiefs reported for Saturday’s PM practice session, the fourth gathering of this weekend’s mini-camp. The practice schedule was very similar to Friday’s PM session with one-on-one drills, special teams work and extended team periods.

Daniels Continues To Produce

In one-on-one drills between the defensive backs and wide receivers, CB Travis Daniels really impressed. In fact, he was perfect in the period.

Daniels managed to go four-for-four against his offensive counterparts; counterparts which included three players from last year’s 53-man roster – Dwayne Bowe, Chris Chambers and Terrance Copper. Daniels’ fourth opponent was rookie free agent Jeremy Horne.

Overall, the offense (which has a huge advantage in the drill with no pass rush or other defensive help) won 19 of the 31 matchups. Daniels’ four wins represented 25% of the defensive victories.

Later, in the team period, Daniels ran stride-for-stride alongside Bowe to defend a deep go route.

Moeaki Doesn’t Miss A Beat

Many wondered how well rookie TE Tony Moeaki would fare in this weekend’s mini-camp. Up until this week, Moeaki had yet to participate in any of the OTAs due to a minor injury. Even when he came back to action, he spent the first half of this week only working during individual periods.

None of that was visible to spectators on Saturday.

Moeaki was all over the field in the PM practice, displaying speed in space and soft hands. He caught everything thrown in his direction and looked to be getting extended looks from his quarterbacks because of it.

At one point, Moeaki extended while in stride to reel in a high pass across the middle from Tyler Palko. His efforts had a cast of veterans chanting “MOO-AHH-KEYYYYYY” from the sidelines.

Returner Frenzy

Kansas City struggled with finding a permanent return man outside of Jamaal Charles last season. Today, a total of 10 players practiced returning kicks and/or punts. Had Lance Long and Quinten Lawrence both been in action, that list could have very easily been at 12.

Though rookies Javier Arenas and Dexter McCluster are expected to be the front-runners for return jobs, Maurice Legget, Jackie Battle, David Grimes, Kolby Smith, Terrance Copper, Rich Gunnell, Kestahn Moore and Jeremy Horne all received repetitions as well.

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