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OTA Notebook: Opening Day

Posted May 21, 2012

86 of 87 players were in attendance at the Chiefs first OTA practice of 2012

Football returned to the Truman Sports Complex Monday morning with the first OTA session of the Romeo Crennel era.

Crennel’s first on-field practice as Chiefs head coach lasted approximately 90 minutes and included several periods of competitive work matching the offense against the defense.

The Chiefs wore helmets, but no other pads and refrained from any live contact periods as required by the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Of the 87 players on Kansas City’s roster, only Dwayne Bowe missed the voluntary practice.

Bowe is one of two unsigned players after receiving the franchise tag in March. The other is first-round draft pick Dontari Poe.

Working with the first-team offense in Bowe’s absence was Jonathan Baldwin and Steve Breaston.

“Every day we have to keep building,” Baldwin said. “It’s not just me. We just have to keep building every day and try to make progress in each one of these OTA practices.”

Baldwin made the most of his opportunity with the starters, reeling in a diving catch deep down the left sideline (read about it and see it in the “Play of the Day” near the bottom of this story).

“There are subtle changes here and there,” QB Matt Cassel said of the team’s offense under new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll. “There are some similarities, but it’s definitely a different offense, so for us, we just have to continue to work hard.

“It is going to be a process, so we can’t get frustrated with the facts, some days are going to be better than others. But at the same time, I think as long as we keep getting better each and every day, we’ll become a good offense.”

Chiefs Rest Berry, Charles, Moeaki and Others

As expected, the Chiefs rested Eric Berry, Jamaal Charles and Tony Moeaki during Monday’s opening OTA session.

Though each of the players is on schedule in their recovery from season-ending knee surgeries, Crennel has opted to take a cautious approach with the trio leading up to training camp.

All three players attended practice, but worked on strength and agility drills after watching the opening walkthrough period. The Chiefs also rested Brandon Siler (Achilles) and Kendrick Lewis (Pectoral).

“I tore my pectoral on the play that (Tim) Tebow fumbled,” Lewis said of the injury that required surgery following the Chiefs season finale in Denver. “I just finished the game, because I didn’t know at the time. I just wanted to win a ballgame and help my team win.”

Running with the first-team defense in place of Berry and Lewis was veteran Travis Daniels and rookie free agent Terrance Parks. Daniels owns safety experience, but has primarily played cornerback in his three seasons with the Chiefs.

“I’m still training my mind, learning the plays and knowing what to do when they come out of the huddle,” Lewis said. “I’m making my calls and helping the young guys out.

“So I’m still getting my mental reps in, it’s just the physical and fundamental work that I’m missing.”

Fifth-round draft pick De’Quan Menzie (hamstring) and OL Rob Bruggeman (finger) were sidelined from injuries suffered during rookie minicamp earlier this month.

Poe Attends Practice

First-round pick Dontari Poe is the Chiefs lone unsigned draft pick, but attended Monday’s first OTA session anyway. The nose tackle says he plans to work during offseason practices while contract talks are ongoing.

“I’m going to keep doing what I have to do no matter how long it takes,” Poe said regarding his contract situation. “I’m here to play football and I’m focusing on that. There are other people in line to handle the business of signing.

“What I’m here to do is to play football and try to be the best that I can, so that’s what I’m doing.”

Poe worked behind veterans Amon Gordon and Jerrell Powe during his first full-squad practice.

McCluster Shifts to Receiver…For Now

Dexter McCluster moved into a full-time role at running back last preseason after spending his rookie year bouncing back and forth between running back and slot receiver.

Following Monday’s practice, it appears McCluster is back on the move under new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll.

McCluster worked solely at wide receiver Monday morning, something he hadn’t done extensively since the closing practices of the 2010 campaign.

“You know what, today I did some receiver and tomorrow I don’t know,” McCluster said. “The great thing about this sport is learning everything you can and doing wherever they ask you so you don’t skip a beat.”

Also working out of the slot on Monday was fourth-round pick Devon Wylie.

Sixth-round draft pick Cyrus Gray and Shaun Draughn handled many of the reserve snaps at running back behind Peyton Hillis.

McCluster finished second on the team posting 114 carries for 516 yards (4.5 avg.) and one TD last season. He also caught 46 passes for 328 yards with a TD, which was the third-most of any receiver last year.

How the Chiefs use McCluster bears watching throughout OTAs and into training camp. In previous stops, Daboll has been known to move around versatile players based on the strengths and weaknesses of opposing defenses.

“I felt good out there just running around,” McCluster said. “My legs felt good and I’m ready to go out there and compete.”

Play of the Day

Jonathan Baldwin made a beautiful diving catch on a deep ball against heavy man-to-man coverage from Stanford Routt. Matt Cassel led Baldwin perfectly down the left sideline, placing the football on Baldwin’s outside shoulder in an impossible location for Routt to make a play.

How They Lined Up

The following players were on the field for the first snap of team 11-vs-11 work.

OFFENSE

WR – Steve Breaston

LT – Branden Albert

LG – Ryan Lilja

C – Rodney Hudson

RG – Jon Asamoah

RT – Eric Winston

TE – Kevin Boss

TE – Jake O’Connell

WR – Jonathan Baldwin

QB – Matt Cassel

RB – Peyton Hillis

DEFENSE

DE – Glenn Dorsey

NT – Amon Gordon

DE – Tyson Jackson

OLB – Tamba Hali

LB – Derrick Johnson

LB – Jovan Belcher

OLB – Justin Houston

CB – Stanford Routt

CB – Brandon Flowers

S – Travis Daniels

S – Terrance Parks

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