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Minicamp Notebook: Chiefs wrap-up offseason program

Posted Jun 14, 2012

WR Jonathan Baldwin finishes strong as Kansas City closes its 2012 minicamp; Chiefs visiting Joplin on Friday


Jonathan Baldwin ended the Chiefs offseason program the same way he began it – with an acrobatic one-handed touchdown catch.

It was the kind of catch Baldwin has made several times over the course of OTAs and minicamp, adjusting his body away from the defender and stretching out his 6’4” frame to haul in the football.

This particular catch originated from the hand of Matt Cassel and featured a toe drag in the corner of the end zone to complete the Red Zone fade pattern.

“Last year, we didn’t have (an offseason program),” said Baldwin. “Being able to learn the offense and actually go out and run those routes with some coaching out there, it definitely helps a lot instead of when you just have a playbook and not being able to be coached up and you’re just going out there and running what you think that the coaches like. It’s definitely an advantage to be able to do these things and we all appreciate it a heck of a lot.”

With two more touchdown catches during Thursday’s 11-on-11 work, Baldwin capped off an impressive month of offseason practices.

“I saw some players improve as we went through this,” head coach Romeo Crennel said. “Now we’ll put on the pads, and we’ll see what they really can do. It won’t be long. It’s five-and-a-half weeks until training camp. It’s all the way live, and it’s for real. They have to understand that and everybody has to put their best foot forward to give us the best chance.”

The next step for Baldwin and the rest of Kansas City’s young, emerging players is to carry the progress made over the past month into the opening of training camp some six weeks from today.

Most of the team’s veterans will return to their hometowns this weekend. Rookies will continue strength and conditioning training at Chiefs headquarters for the next two weeks.

Regardless of how players choose to spend their upcoming free time, Crennel expects everyone to remain in peak physical condition.

“Me personally, I’m going to go home to my family, to my daughter, spend time with the family, but still work out and train so I can be ready when I come back,” running back/wide receiver Dexter McCluster said.

“As a football player, as a competitor, I know I can speak for all these guys, we can’t just sit around all day. You might take a couple days off, but we’re trained to work so we’re going to go home and get that done.”

Crennel, who was genuinely excited when addressing the team’s progress this offseason, also expressed the importance of staying out of trouble over the next six weeks. The Chiefs have had relatively few off-field distractions since Crennel took over as head coach on January 9th and urged his players to keep it that way.

“The message to them is to do the right thing, stay out of trouble and continue to work out and continue to study,” Crennel said. “And know that when you come back it’s for real.”

“I’ll be doing a lot of working out,” first-round draft pick Dontari Poe said after Thursday’s practice. “Also a lot of staying out of trouble and that’s it; trying to keep reading this playbook just so I can know how everything is.”

Chiefs Visiting Joplin on Friday

A number of Chiefs players are putting their travel plans on hold to volunteer in tornado-ravaged Joplin, Missouri on Friday. The players will join more than 100 members of the Chiefs organization in building five homes alongside Habitat for Humanity and the Governor’s Joplin Challenge.

A lack of housing remains a critical barrier to the city’s recovery one year after an EF-5 tornado affected 7,571 households and destroyed 4,024 residences. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon established the 2012 Governor’s Joplin-Habitat Challenge with the goal of building 35 new affordable homes this year in Joplin’s devastation zone.

The Royals, Cardinals and Rams, as well as the University of Missouri Athletic Department and NASCAR, are also part of the challenge during separate build dates.

This is the second consecutive year Chiefs players and staffers are traveling to Joplin. Last June, the Chiefs took four buses to Joplin and partnered with AmeriCorps to clean debris at houses destroyed in the storm’s path.

“It was a big impact just to see those kids,” WR Jonathan Baldwin remembered. “They were really excited to see us. To show our appreciation and that we actually care had a big impact on me.”

The Chiefs’ previous Joplin involvement includes a bottled water and supply drive at Arrowhead Stadium immediately following the tornado. Members of the Kansas City community filled more than six semi-trucks full with supplies and donated over $55,000, including a $35,000 donation from the Hunt Family and the Chiefs.

Arrowhead Stadium also hosted a Joplin High School football game against Raymore-Peculiar with net proceeds benefitting the Joplin Schools Tornado Relief Fund. Then, over the holiday season, members of the Chiefs surprised nearly 1,300 students with toys that had provided on wish lists to “Santa’s Helpers.”

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