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Notes From A Day-Off At Camp Andy


From St. Joseph, Missouri

The Chiefs players have a day off on Tuesday, with no practice, no walkthrough, no lifting and conditioning.

The mini-vacation does not come because Andy Reid wanted to reward his players or was worried about their physical and mental health. In fact, the head coach had nothing to do with the off-day.

It comes courtesy of the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement between owners and players. The contract reads that in camp the players must get a day of rest every five days of practice. The Chiefs worked on the field Thursday-Friday-Saturday-Sunday-Monday, so they were due down time.

Of course it’s not really a day off for 90 percent of the roster. They will remain on campus at Missouri Western State University, where they will sleep, get treatment for bumps and bruises, maybe watch some practice tape and possibly get out and see a bit of St. Joe. I doubt they’ll be at the Pony Express Museum, but more likely they’ll be at the mall or shopping center, maybe at the grocery store, stocking the room for another week.

Here’s what makes training camp such an important physical-psychological laboratory. The flow of training camp naturally goes in an up-and-down motion. Decision makers like general managers and coaches make assessments every day on how the players handle themselves. The first-week All-Pro at training camp can disappear by the third-week of practice. A rookie that jumps to the front in the early sessions can end up at the back of the line long before decisions are made on roster spots. …Read More!

AFC West 2014 Analysis – Inside Linebacker

A half-dozen NFL personnel sources helped us with evaluations of the personnel for AFC West teams going into the 2014 season. We are keeping score to decide the most talented team in the division (on paper). The club with the fewest points will be considered the best, as points match the ratings; example, the No. 3 spot means 3 points.

AFC WEST SCOREBOARD (thru ILB) –Broncos 64, Chargers 68, Raiders 73, Chiefs 75.

Inside Linebacker

1. Derrick Johnson, Chiefs

6-3, 240 pounds, born 11/22/1982, 10th NFL season, selected in the 1st-round (#15) of the ’05 NFL Draft by the Chiefs out of the University of Texas. Over his 137-game career, Johnson started 124 times, posting 981 total tackles, with 22.5 sacks, 11 interceptions and 19 forced fumbles.

Johnson had a solid season ’13, earning another trip to the Pro Bowl with his consistent play in all three areas: run defense, pass rush and pass coverage. He finished the season with four sacks and 19 other plays involving the quarterback. He had 107 total tackles, 4.5 sacks and two interceptions. In pass coverage he was targeted 59 times, giving up 41 completions for an average gain of 10.5 yards. But the great ability that Johnson showed last year was his availability. He played 16 of the 17 games, held out of the regular season finale in San Diego with the other veterans. During the regular season he had 1,105 defensive snaps, missing only 29 plays in the 15 regular-season games that he was on the field. …Read More!

Chiefs Add Defensive Back Due To Injuries

From St. Joseph, Missouri

With four defensive backs down because of injuries, the Chiefs were forced to bring in another body in the secondary.

On Monday they signed Damond Smith, a 5-11 ¼, 184-pound cornerback that played at both Western Michigan University and the University of South Alabama.

Smith was eligible for the NFL’s 2013 Supplemental Draft, but was not selected and no team signed him last season. In fact, he’s not played a full-field game since the 2011 season when he played just four games with South Alabama, with 18 total tackles. He did spend time in the Canadian Football League on the practice squad of the B.C. Lions and he was also on the roster of the Pittsburgh Power in the Arena Football  League.

At Western Michigan he played 18 games in the 2009-10 seasons, starting six times. He had two interceptions and 55 total tackles.

The signing moved the Chiefs roster back to 90 players. They have 45 on offense (four quarterbacks, eight running backs, five tight ends, 13 wide receivers, 15 offensive linemen), 41 players on defense (10 defensive line, 13 linebackers, 18 defensive backs) and four special teams players.

The Most Competitive Position On K.C. Roster – Kicker

From St. Joseph, Missouri

They are only on the field and the focus of attention for a few minutes during a Chiefs training camp workout.

But after five practices kickers Ryan Succop and Cairo Santos are putting on the most competitive battle for a roster spot at Missouri Western State University. Each one has tried 17 field goals, ranging from 30 yards to just over 50 yarders. So far here’s how they breakdown:

  • Santos – he’s made 16 of 17, including all five that he kicked Monday morning.
  • Succop – he’s also made 16 of 17, including all five of his Monday kicks.

They have kicked field goals three different times in five practices; on Thursday, Saturday and Monday. Both were 6-for-6 on Thursday, 5-of-6 on Saturday and then 5-for-5.

“They are challenging each other,” said Chiefs head coach Andy Reid. “Both of them are good kickers. Today was a tie. I told them it was like the World Cup. We practiced for an hour and they were tied.” …Read More!

Chiefs Training Camp Practice #8 – 7/28


Demetrius Harris is set to catch a pass in Monday’s Chiefs practice

From St. Joseph, Missouri

It was a defensive day on the practice fields at Missouri Western State University on Monday, as the full Chiefs squad worked together for the fifth consecutive day.

The difference between the Chiefs this year and last year at the same time could be seen in the offensive script for the practice. Last year, the team was feeling its way with Andy Reid’s offense. Now, the head coach and his staff are confident enough to begin early work on the two-minute drill just five practices into camp.

But the Chiefs offense ran into a few roadblocks that were thrown at them by the Chiefs defense. This was not a stifling effort from the defensive squad, but when it was time to make a play, that stood up and kept the offense out of the end zone. …Read More!

AFC West 2014 Analysis – Middle Linebacker

A half-dozen NFL personnel sources helped us with evaluations of the personnel for AFC West teams going into the 2014 season. We are keeping score to decide the most talented team in the division (on paper). The club with the fewest points will be considered the best, as points match the ratings; example, the No. 3 spot means 3 points.

AFC WEST SCOREBOARD (thru MLB) –Broncos 60, Chargers 66, Raiders 70, Chiefs 74.

Middle Linebacker

1. Nick Roach, Oakland

6-1, 235 pounds, born 6/16/1985, 8th NFL season, 2nd-season with Raiders who signed him in ’13 as an unrestricted free agent from the Bears. Roach entered the NFL as an undrafted rookie free agent in ’07 with the Chargers out of Northwestern University. He was released by San Diego and was signed by the Bears where he spent six seasons. In seven seasons he’s played 96 games with 75 starts, registering 346 total tackles with nine sacks, an interception and eight forced fumbles.

In the ’13 season, Roach played every defensive snap the Raiders had, finishing with 1,105 plays. Although the Raiders struggled last year, his addition in the middle of their defense was an improvement. He started all 16 games, and finished up the season with a career high 5.5 sacks and 112 total tackles along with an interception and four forced fumbles. Roach was stronger in pass coverage and the pass rush than in stopping the run, especially in two games against the Broncos. …Read More!

Long-Shot Tackle Puts Coaching Career On-Hold

From St. Joseph, Missouri

After Sunday morning’s practice at Missouri Western State University backup offensive tackle Ryan McKee trudged up the hill to the players’ locker room.

A year ago, he would have turned not into the players’ quarters, but the coaching locker room. Last football season McKee was out of the NFL, but not out of the game. McKee was a graduate assistant coach working with the offensive line at the University of North Carolina.

Today, he’s a long shot, street free agent trying to earn an NFL roster spot with the Chiefs.

“I thought I was done as a player,” McKee said. “I’m enjoying the chance to try again.”

McKee earned more practice snaps on Sunday when starting right tackle Donald Stephenson went down with a left ankle injury. That forced adjustments on the right side, and left McKee as pretty much the only backup for starting left tackle Eric Fisher. Since last year’s No. 1 choice in the NFL Draft is on restricted snaps because of his surgically repaired shoulder, McKee had multiple chances in the pass protection/pass rush one-on-one drills.

And, he held up his end. Facing off against pass rushers like Tamba Hali, Justin Houston, Mike Catapano and Allen Bailey, there were victories in pass protection and defeats; his ratio of good to bad plays was the same as every other blocker working on Sunday, especially the tackles.

“There a few things I know I’ll see on the tape that I’ll have to correct,” McKee said. “But going up against those guys will get your motor running.” …Read More!

Chiefs Training Camp Practice #7 – 7/27

From St. Joseph, Missouri

By the time the Chiefs practice on Sunday morning wrapped up, they were moving casualties off the field every few minutes.

Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe, right tackle Donald Stephenson, fullback Jordan Campbell all left the practice field at Missouri Western State University on motorized carts.

Already on the sideline during practice were seven other players, including starting middle linebacker Joe Mays.

The best news for the Chiefs is that none of the injuries appears serious. Bowe was cramping during practice, more than likely due to dehydration and his low level of body fat. Stephenson suffered a left ankle injury on a running play and was helped off the field, although he appeared to be moving OK. Campbell had a left foot injury late in practice.

It was not a surprise that a few bumps and bruises showed up because the practice was more physical than Saturday’s session. The Chiefs defense was throwing their offensive teammates around on a regular basis, including running back Jamaal Charles who was taken down by linebackers Josh Martin and Josh Mauga and cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke. Linebacker Derrick Johnson knocked down wide receiver Donnie Avery after he caught a short pass over the middle. Cornerback Justin Rogers didn’t just make contact with wide receiver Albert Wilson; he threw him to the ground like a rag doll. …Read More!

Chiefs Training Camp Practice #6 – 7/26


When camp gets physical, bodies tumble like WR Fred Williams and CB Kevin Rutland

From St. Joseph, Missouri

Real football practices are when players begin to perform against each other in one-on-one and unit-by-unit situations with little in the way of restrictions.

That was the highlight of the first padded practice of the 2014 training camp for the Chiefs. Andy Reid put his team through the two-hour, 30-minute session Saturday morning at Missouri Western State University under cloudy skies and very humid conditions.

It grew more humid when offense and defense started banging against each other in the first steps towards the development and growth of the ’14 Chiefs. It was a day the players looked forward too, understanding that they can’t play successful football unless they practice football.

“It felt good out there,” said second-year linebacker Nico Johnson. “It probably won’t feel so good tonight, but it was another step for us. It was football.”

Here is some of what we observed and heard at the practice:

– Injuries & participation: the Chiefs started with 85 players working with five players off the field just as they were on Thursday and Friday – tight end Sean McGrath (retired), running back Joe McKnight (knee), guard Rokevious Watkins (back), cornerback David Van Dyke (hamstring) and safety Sanders Commings (foot).

During practice, inside linebacker Joe Mays eventually went to the sidelines due to a knee injury he brought with him to camp. Safety Eric Berry suffered a dislocated finger and wide receiver Junior Hemingway had a spasm in one of his hamstrings.

Left tackle Eric Fisher’s snaps were limited and he did not take part in the one-on-one session against the Chiefs pass rushers. …Read More!

Notes: McGrath Retires, Berry Hurt, Record Crowd


WR Kyle Williams goes horizontal for pass with CB Phillip Gaines in coverage during Saturday’s practice

From St. Joseph, Missouri

The man who became known as “The Beard” has retired.

Tight end Sean McGrath has informed the Chiefs that he will no longer play football.

“That’s what we’ve been told by him,” head coach Andy Reid said on Saturday. “I wish him the best. He’s a good kid and it was a personal decision he made.”

The 26-year old Illinois native joined the Chiefs before the first game last season, claimed off the waiver wire from Seattle. He ended up being an important contributor when starting tight end Anthony Fasano went down with injuries. McGrath caught 26 passes for 302 yards and two touchdown catches as he played all 16 games, starting nine times.

On the personnel front, McGrath was placed on the reserve/did not report list, injured guard Rokevious Watkins (back) was released and the Chiefs claimed tight end Adam Schiltz off the waiver wire from the Tennessee Titans. The 6-4, 255-pound Oklahoma native played his college football at Emporia State University where over four seasons he caught 105 passes for 1,290 yards in 44 games. He spent the 2013 season on the practice squad of the Houston Texans and went to training camp with the Titans this year, but he was released on Friday. …Read More!

Hudson Shines As Chiefs Practice Real Football


K.C. Chiefs photo

From St. Joseph, Missouri

A crashing sound rang out across the practice fields Saturday morning at Missouri Western State University.

That does not include the claps of thunder and a light rain that landed on over 6,000 fans that were making their way home after the completion of the Chiefs practice.

No, the sound effects were courtesy of the team’s first practice in pads. For the first time since the first-round game in the playoffs back in early January, the Chiefs were playing football.

Or at least they got as close as they’ve been able to do in the last seven months.

“I thought it was a good tempo, good challenges and good competition,” said head coach Andy Reid. “They came out and did a nice job.”

The star of Saturday’s practice was a player that most would not have guessed before work began. The morning’s all-star was starting center Rodney Hudson.

For the first time in training camp, the Chiefs offensive and defensive lines went head-to-head on pass protection and pass rush. This was one-on-one action, and there were several players that stood out, including first-round draft choice Dee Ford.

But Hudson was sensational. …Read More!

AFC West 2014 Analysis – Left Outside Linebacker

A half-dozen NFL personnel sources helped us with evaluations of the personnel for AFC West teams going into the 2014 season. We are keeping score to decide the most talented team in the division (on paper). The club with the fewest points will be considered the best, as points match the ratings; example, the No. 3 spot means 3 points.

AFC WEST SCOREBOARD (thru LOLB) –Broncos 54, Chargers 59, Raiders 66, Chiefs 71.

Left (Strong) Outside Linebacker

1. Justin Houston, Chiefs

6-3, 258 pounds, born 1/12/1989, 4th NFL season, selected in the 3rd-round (#70) by the Chiefs in the ’11 NFL Draft out of Georgia. In 43 games with 37 starts, Houston has 26.5 sacks and 180 total tackles. He also has an interception and a forced fumble.

At some point here in the next six to nine months, Houston is going to score big on a new contract, especially if he continues to perform as he did last year when healthy. He missed five games with an elbow injury that stopped what was one of the best defensive seasons in the league. He had 724 defensive snaps, producing 11 sacks and 61 total plays on the quarterback, with 34 total tackles. The only place he struggled was in coverage, giving up seven completions on seven targets against him, but only allowing 52 total yards. He has the size, strength and speed to be a 10 to 15-sack defender for the next five to seven years. …Read More!

Offensive Goal: Build On Momentum From Last Season


The Chiefs offensive big three: Doug Pederson, Alex Smith and Andy Reid

From St. Joseph, Missouri

The script of what happened last season with the Chiefs offense was fairly easy to predict. With a new head coach, a new coaching staff, a new starting quarterback and a new scheme, it figured that the offense would need time to become productive and efficient.

That’s what happened, as Andy Reid’s offense came together behind quarterback Alex Smith and became very productive in the second half of the season.

The Chiefs offensive coaching staff believes that improvement is a launching pad for this season’s offense. Offensive coordinator Doug Pederson has been adamant that his group will not regroup or start over. He says they must maintain the growth visible at the end of last season and move the team’s expectations even higher.

“We keep harping on the guys to maintain that level of excellence, and maintain the ability to continue to push the ball down the field in the passing game,” Pederson said after the Chiefs practice session Friday at Missouri Western State University. “You take what we were good at doing at the end of the year and work on those things. We did that in the offseason, and the guys came back ready to go, eager to go.”

Here are last season’s numbers over the course of the schedule. It provides evidence of an offensive turnaround in the second half of the season: …Read More!

Chiefs Training Camp Practice #5 – 7/25

From St. Joseph, Missouri

The Chiefs got one step closer to actually having a real football practice as they got through a two-hour-plus session Friday morning at Missouri Western State University.

That’s to say it was another training camp practice without full pads, so there was little in the way of physical contact. Such are the labor rules these days that the veterans get three days to acclimate to football before they use their shoulder pads and go about actually practicing in the same manner the game is played.

The defense hasn’t had a chance to show much due to the lack of physical play. The offensive line is still punching at air and practice dummies, not defensive linemen. The running game hasn’t had the opportunity to really show its stuff as the offensive line can only steer the defenders, not hit them. All that will come to an end on Saturday, when the pads go on and the practices look more like football.

But that doesn’t mean there can’t be improvement and goals accomplished in the building of the 2014 Chiefs. Here is what we saw and heard under mostly cloudy skies, with occasional bursts of sunshine that sent the temperature and humidity soaring: …Read More!

Chiefs Training Camp Practice #4 – 7/24

From St. Joseph, Missouri

It was a busy Thursday for the Chiefs players as they had a conditioning session in the morning and then practice on the field and in the heat here at Missouri Western State University in the afternoon.

Since the NFL rules did not allow them to wear full pads, Andy Reid had them in helmets and shorts, and they did not have a normal training camp practice. Reid scheduled one of his 10-10-10 practices, where the No. 1 offense went against the No. 2 defense for 10 plays, followed by the No. 1 defense facing the No. 2 offense for 10 plays, and back and forth as they ran through quite a few rotations.

The pace was fast and there was very little down time during the practice that ran for almost two hours. Here are some of the items and moments that stood out:

– The starting offense lined up with Rishaw Johnson at right guard. The rest of the unit was as expected with receivers Dwayne Bowe, Donnie Avery along with Junior Hemingway, tight end Anthony Fasano, running back Jamaal Charles, fullback Anthony Sherman, quarterback Alex Smith and the offensive line from left to right tackle of Eric Fisher, Jeff Allen, Rodney Hudson, Johnson and Donald Stephenson.

– The No. 1 defense lined up just as it finished the off-season work, with Sean Smith on the sideline and Marcus Cooper and Ron Parker at the cornerback spots; Cooper right, Parker left. At safety it was Eric Berry and Husain Abdullah, with outside linebackers Justin Houston and Tamba Hali, inside linebackers Joe Mays and Derrick Johnson, defensive ends Mike DeVito and Allen Bailey, along with nose tackle Dontari Poe. …Read More!

Jamaal: “I Couldn’t Have Held Out”

From St. Joseph, Missouri

The holdout by Jamaal Charles for a bigger paycheck was measured in minutes, not days.

But that might have been the case even had Charles and the Chiefs not agreed to a two-year extension for $18.1 million in new money on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to hold out,” the Chiefs running back said Thursday afternoon. “That’s not my personality. I couldn’t do it. I just wanted to get the deal done.

“I didn’t want to be selfish. I just wanted to come back and play football.”

Chiefs GM John Dorsey and staff got the deal done, increasing Charles compensation for the 2014 season from $3.9 million to at least $8.3 million. That total is guaranteed.

“I’m just happy with what I have for right now,” Charles said. “I just want to build something here and build a championship. I want to win a Super Bowl.” …Read More!

Camp Notes: ‘The Beard’ May Be Done

From St. Joseph, Missouri

The only player missing on Thursday at Missouri Western State University was tight end Sean McGrath.

The guy with the beard who entertained the team and fans last year after he was claimed from the waiver wire before the regular-season opener may not have an encore season. The way head coach Andy Reid talked after practice, McGrath time on campus may never happen.

“Sean is working some things out right now,” Reid said. “Some personal things.”

When asked directly if McGrath was considering retirement, Reid said:

“He’s contemplating some things, going through some things. We’ll let you know.”

The 26-year old Illinois native spent the 2013 pre-season with Seattle before being released on the final cut before the regular season. That’s when the Chiefs claimed him and he ended up grabbing 26 passes for 302 yards and a pair of touchdown catches.

McGrath was facing a fight for a 2014 roster spot, with Anthony Fasano, Travis Kelce and Demetrius Harris all looking good in the off-season work. …Read More!

AFC West 2014 Analysis – Right Defensive End

A half-dozen NFL personnel sources helped us with evaluations of the personnel for AFC West teams going into the 2014 season. We are keeping score to decide the most talented team in the division (on paper). The club with the fewest points will be considered the best, as points match the ratings; example, the No. 3 spot means 3 points.

AFC WEST SCOREBOARD (thru RDE) –Broncos 52, Chargers 55, Raiders 63, Chiefs 70.

Right Defensive End

1. Justin Tuck, Oakland

6-5, 268 pounds, born 3/29/1983, 10th NFL season, 1st-season with the Raiders who signed him in March as a free agent. He entered the NFL as a 3rd-round (#74) selection by the Giants in the ’05 NFL Draft out of Notre Dame University. In 127 games with the Giants, Tuck had 60.5 sacks, along with two interceptions, 18 forced fumbles and 453 total tackles.

The Giants had a bad season last year, but it wasn’t because Tuck went in the tank. He was strong across the board against the run and pass, and had only one or two games that were judged with a negative grade. He played all 16 games, started 15 and had 896 defensive snaps. He had 12 sacks, 12 hits on the passer and 44 quarterback hurries. That’s 68 plays affecting the quarterback. Tuck also had 44 tackles. He did turn 31 earlier this year, but over the last six season he had only one year (’11) where he missed more than one game. He’s been durable and available and he figures to be a huge addition for the Raiders defense. …Read More!

More Major Payroll Decisions Ahead For Chiefs

From St. Joseph, Missouri

John Dorsey . . . welcome to your job as an NFL general manager.

Holding the position for going on 20 months now, Dorsey and the Chiefs faced a triple crossroads with big ramifications on the near term and future for the Hunt Family franchise. The decisions made in the current contract negotiations between the Chiefs and three of their best players are not just in the real time of the 2014 season. They will reverberate over the next four or five seasons, maybe longer.

Alex Smith, Justin Houston and now Jamaal Charles all want more money than they received from the Chiefs in 2013 and what they are scheduled to pull down in the coming months. Last year, the Chiefs paid the three players a combined total of $12 million and change. This year, they are on the books for $12.8 million, but that’s only if Charles reports because once he does, he is due a $1 million reporting bonus.

A deal was worked out with Charles on Wednesday, with a two-year extension and $18.1 million in new money for the running back. He now has a four-year contract.

So that’s one down, two more to go, or at least two more that we know about. This contract pickle is the price of success. When a team wins 11 games and goes to the playoffs, the cost of players goes up. The NFL does not work in an economic vacuum and on-field results influence revenue and expenditures. There were not many folks looking for a raise coming off a 2-14 season like the one the Chiefs posted in 2012. …Read More!

Charles & Chiefs Agree On Contract Extension

From St. Joseph, Missouri

It tells us plenty about the importance of Jamaal Charles that his holdout from training camp will be measured in minutes, rather than days.

By mid-day on Wednesday, the running back had agreed to a two-year extension on his contract, picking up $18 million in new cash for the effort. He’s now tied up for the next four seasons at something in the neighborhood of $28 million.

Charles was on his way to camp on Wednesday and should be on the field Thursday afternoon for the team’s first full-squad practice.

With the extension, Charles will receive $8.3 million this year rather than the $3.9 million due him under the contract he signed in December 2010.

The deal elevates him to a spot near the top of the league’s running backs.

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