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Rounding Out the Preseason

Posted Aug 31, 2010

July 30th - August 31st; The Chiefs Preseason practice schedule is coming to a close

Only one practice remains on the Chiefs 2010 preseason calendar. Todd Haley’s squad will head out for a practice with Green Bay emphasis on Tuesday morning, leaving only a walk-thru on Wednesday and a game on Thursday remaining on the preseason slate. The next time that the team gathers for a practice, the roster will have been cut down to 53 players and game scheming for San Diego will be in full force.

This preseason has flown by. It’s hard to believe that the team reported for training camp on July 29th, and that tomorrow marks the first day of September. We’ve learned a lot about this team in the process.

As things wind down right before they wind up again, let’s take a look at some of the things we found during the Chiefs 2010 preseason.

St. Joseph, MO

The new Summer Home of the Chiefs had some big shoes to fill heading into its inaugural training camp.

A unique place in it’s own right, the people of River Falls, Wisconsin were a part of the Chiefs family for nearly two decades. The community always treated the organization in a first-class manor and constantly went well out of their way to make sure that the Chiefs 19 years in The Cheese State was filled with amazing memories.

But the one area in which River Falls couldn’t compete was always its proximity to the heart of Chiefs Kingdom. Plenty of fans made the small Wisconsin town a part of their summer vacation plans, but it could never satisfy the demand of the thousands of Chiefs fans hoping to catch an open practice of their favorite team.

In St. Joseph, the Chiefs found the perfect blend of top-notch treatment, paired with a fan-accommodating location. The end result saw Chiefs fans embrace the move of training camp to Missouri Western State University as a total of 60,000 fans watched the Chiefs during camp.

There wasn’t a more telling day of the training camp’s success than on Saturday, August 7th when the Chiefs held their annual Family Fun Day. A total of 10,721 Chiefs fans showed on that date to set a Spratt Stadium attendance record.

In addition to taking in the club’s first controlled scrimmage of 2010, fans were also able to meet members of the organization before and after practices. Todd Haley, Scott Pioli and Eric Berry were just a few of the people who closed down Spratt by signing autographs well after the final practice horn sounded on Family Fun Day.

Five Yards and a Cloud of Dust

It wasn’t quite like a scene out of the movie Junction Boys, but Coach Haley indicated during and camp that he wanted the Chiefs to be a physical, running football team. The result of some physical practice sessions early in camp has the Chiefs currently rank second in the NFL, averaging 150.0 rushing yards per game.

One of the more encouraging parts of the Chiefs preseason run game has been the offense’s ability to gain hard-nosed yards on third-and-short situations to move the sticks. Converting third-down opportunities is a critical component to NFL success and the league’s top rushing teams are annually some of the most physical at the point of contact.

Kansas City hopes to continue with that trend into and throughout the regular season.

Sack Attack!

The Chiefs busted out of their sack slump in a big way on Friday night against the Eagles.  Putting more pressure on the passer was also a camp priority of Haley’s and KC racked up 5.0 sacks vs. Philadelphia on Friday night. It was the club’s highest single-game sack total since the home opener vs. Minnesota in 2007.

Even while the Chiefs were held sack-less through the first two preseason games, defenders were still getting pressure on the quarterback. Following each game, players in the locker room stated that it was only a matter of time before they began finishing plays behind the line of scrimmage. When the defense was able to do so last Friday night, we were reminded of just how loud Arrowhead can get.

Arrowhead has always been a stadium that thrives off big defensive plays against the opposing quarterback. When the seat-backs are being pounded, and the crowd is on its feet, there isn’t a tougher place in the NFL for opponents to execute an offensive game plan.

Sometimes it only takes one sack to remind us of just how fun Arrowhead can be.

He’s Gonna Break One?

Remember when Dante Hall would line up deep for returns? On each occasion, nobody would leave his or her seats for fear of missing something spectacular. That Dante-like feeling is starting to creep back at least a little bit this preseason.

Coach Haley will be quick to point out that the Chiefs rookie return men have combined to post a grand total of zero return yards in games that count, but this preseason has packed some excitement into the Chiefs return game none-the-less.

We saw plenty of work in the return game in St. Joe and those efforts are paying off as the Chiefs are averaging 27.2 yards per kickoff return, an increase of 8.2 yards per return from the 2009 preseason. We’ve already seen Javier Arenas take back returns of 99 yards (which doesn’t count in the stats), 54 yards and 42 yards, respectfully, while Dexter McCluster got loose for a 41-yard take back against Philadelphia.

Points generated by big plays on special teams are often the difference in one-score football games.

We’ve found plenty this preseason. It’s almost time to find out what the regular season brings.

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