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OTA Notebook: Elam quickly gets to work

Posted Jun 4, 2012

Safety Abram Elam wastes no time getting involved during his first practice with the Chiefs defense

Another player joined the Chiefs rotation of safeties Monday afternoon, but the newest face is also the team’s most experienced.

Abram Elam, who signed prior to Monday’s OTA practice, was on the field when the defense opened first-team reps during 11-on-11 work. The veteran played several snaps alongside Travis Daniels before Kyle McCarthy replaced him in the lineup at strong safety.

Though Elam received his initial snaps working with the starting defensive unit, he spent the majority of his first practice observing coverage calls and alignments with defensive assistant Otis Smith.

“It was cool getting a chance to get out there and run around and be with the guys,” Elam said following his first on-field workout in Kansas City. “The communication is new, but all in all, it felt like it was a good day.”

The Chiefs have been in the market for a veteran safety since the NFL Draft and have hosted multiple safeties on free agent visits including Elam, Yeremiah Bell and O.J. Atogwe. Bell signed with the Jets on May 19th and Atogwe remains a free agent.

Elam also visited the Titans prior to signing with the Chiefs.

“It’s a great opportunity,” Elam said. “I feel like it’s a team that’s up on the rise and very competitive, a great defense. I think we’re putting things together here in Kansas City.”

Having started 47 of 48 games over the last three seasons in Cleveland and Dallas, Elam will receive an immediate opportunity to audition for a job in Kansas City’s defensive backfield. Both starters from last season, Eric Berry and Kendrick Lewis, are rehabilitating injuries and resting during offseason practices.

A number of players thin on experience have rotated at the two safety positions during OTAs. Daniels, a converted cornerback, has gotten the majority of first-team snaps at free safety with rookie free agent Terrance Parks and McCarthy rotating at strong safety.

“In the NFL, you have to be interchangeable with the way things motion and guys move around, so I consider myself a safety that can play both spots,” Elam said.

Six different players made starts at safety last season for the Chiefs, but Donald Washington is the only member of that group participating in OTAs this offseason.

The Elam signing gives the Chiefs good insurance at the position, but Romeo Crennel’s use of three-safety sets only amplifies the importance of the third safety in Kansas City’s defense. Jon McGraw made 23 starts from 2009-11 primarily serving as the team’s third safety.

“(I’m) a smart player that can go in and play, fit when needed, one that communicates well and trying to take advantage of my opportunities,” Elam answered when asked to describe himself as a player.

Elam is also familiar with several members of the Chiefs secondary from spending a portion of his offseason at the same Florida training facility as Eric Berry and Brandon Flowers.

The Chiefs roster now sits at 89 players including unsigned franchise player Dwayne Bowe and first-round draft pick Dontari Poe. Teams may carry up to 90 players until the first cutdown day in late August.

DBs Take The Day

The defensive backfield highlighted Monday’s competitive periods by logging two interceptions off Chiefs quarterbacks.

Travis Daniels notched himself a pick-six when Ricky Stanzi forced a throw into traffic down the left sideline. Stanzi was working with the third-team offense as he and veteran Brady Quinn continue with a weekly rotation of second and third-string reps.

Tysyn Hartman, an undrafted safety out of Kansas State, appeared to snag an interception off Brady Quinn. Hartman came out of a crowd of players with the football acting as if he’d intercepted Quinn’s pass, but the viewpoint from the media area was partially obstructed by players and made the end result difficult to decipher.

 “When I first got here, it was so fast,” Hartman said. “It was hard to think straight, but now a few weeks into it, it’s starting to slow down and go a little slower pre-snap and everything.”

Baldwin, Menzie and Pitoitua Make Return

WR Jonathan Baldwin returned to field on Monday after missing Friday’s OTA practice with a migraine headache. The second-year receiver sought medical attention after migraine symptoms first appeared last Thursday, but seemed unfazed by the scare following a weekend of rest.

Baldwin was a full participant during Monday’s practice.

Rookie S De’Quan Menzie and veteran DE Roptati Pitoitua were back on the field during Monday’s session as well. Menzie, the Chiefs fifth-round draft pick, injured his hamstring during rookie minicamp and had yet to participate in an OTA session. Pitoitua missed about two weeks of work after suffering a calf injury during the first week of OTAs.

Left tackle Branden Albert (personal) and K Ryan Succop (personal) also returned to practice after missing Friday’s session.

In total, the Chiefs had 78 of 89 players participating in Monday’s OTA. DE Glenn Dorsey was not present, leaving the starting duties at right defensive end to Amon Gordon. TE Martin Rucker was also held out after injuring his right knee in Friday’s practice.

Familiar names worked out in the rehab area: OL Jeff Allen (ankle), OL Rob Bruggeman (finger), S Eric Berry (knee), RB Jamaal Charles (knee), RB Cyrus Gray (hamstring), S Kendrick Lewis (pectoral/shoulder), TE Tony Moeaki (knee) and LB Brandon Siler (Achilles). WR Dwayne Bowe continues to stay away from OTAs with an unresolved contract situation.

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