And The Winner Is …

Training camp at Missouri Western State University is over for the Chiefs. As head coach Todd Haley made plain to his players this week, St. Joseph might be gone, but camp is not.

“We’ll stay in camp mode for another week-and-a half or so,” Haley said. “That’s what we’re stressing to the guys – even though we’re breaking from St. Joe – we’re still in training camp.”

But the day-to-day of the remaining two weeks will have a much different feel than three weeks together at Scanlon Hall, the Griffon Indoor Center and the practice fields at Missouri Western.

To honor those 21 days, we present the 2011 Joe Awards for pre-season performances.

BEST OFFENSIVE PLAYER

WR Dwayne Bowe – what a remarkable distance Bowe has traveled in the last two years. In the first training camp of the Pioli/Haley Era, Bowe showed up so overweight and out of shape he took a diuretic to lose water weight and got caught in an NFL drug test. That four-week suspension may have proven to be a real turning point for the former No. 1 draft choice.

In 2011 training camp, Bowe showed up in shape, maybe in the best physical condition of anybody on the roster. His route running has been precise and he’s dropped only a handful of hundreds of passes that were thrown his way in practice. There were still those moments when Bowe lines up on the wrong side of the formation, but they are infrequent occurrences this summer. Bowe looks like he’s primed for another big season.

Honorable mention: RB Thomas Jones has lost some weight and gotten a spark in his run game … WR Jerheme Urban had some early drops, but has gotten better practice to practice.

BEST DEFENSIVE PLAYER

(A tie) ILB Derrick Johnson and DE Wallace Gilberry

Johnson – Last season was the best of Johnson’s six years in the league. After a “tough love” season with Haley in ’09, he was on the field for just about every defensive down in the ’10 season, playing against the run and pass.

This summer, Johnson has shown up in what may be the best physical shape of his life. As Haley said this week, Johnson wants to elevate the plateau that he established last season. He looks faster, although Johnson says it’s not his speed, but his recognition abilities. Whatever the reason, from day one of camp he was showing up where the ball was, and that’s all that can be asked for an inside linebacker.

Gilberry – He only added a few extra pounds to his frame, but there was a reorganization of the lbs that were on his body. Noticeably bigger in the upper body, Gilberry has been almost unstoppable, especially when rushing the passer off the edge. I think every OT on the Chiefs roster has been embarrassed at least once by Gilberry’s power rush.

He’s said he wants to be a full-time player, but as long as he continues to have the burst he’s shown as a pass rusher, Gilberry will make a big contribution to the defense.

Honorable mention: OLB Cameron Sheffield hasn’t shown any problems from last year’s head/neck injury; CB Quinten Lawrence was a wash out as a wide receiver, but he’s shown promise as a defender.

BEST DRAFT CHOICE

CB Jalil Brown – Of the nine players selected by the Chiefs in the 2011 NFL Draft, there were three that weren’t well known – FB Shane Bannon, LB Gabe Miller and Brown. The Chiefs were attracted to Bannon and Miller because of outstanding spring workouts. Brown got their attention as the CB on the other side of the defense from the much publicized Jimmy Smith. It was Smith, not Brown that went in the first round of the ’11 NFL Draft. The Chiefs didn’t grab him until the fourth round.

But Brown has come in and shown some good natural abilities. He’s big and strong and does not get knocked off his coverage. If he’s established to the inside, it’s going to be hard for a receiver to work his way into the middle of the field. He also appears to turn and run well with the receivers. In the long-term, Brown may be better suited for a spot at safety, but he’s made an impression already.

BIGGEST SURPRISE

WR Keary Colbert – Here’s was a guy that had been out of the NFL for two seasons, who spent last year as a graduate assistant coach at Southern Cal. Why were the Chiefs signing him to a contract in training camp? It didn’t make much sense.

But Colbert has come in and validated his signing. Whether that’s enough for him to make the final roster remains to be seen. But Haley is talking about more players making the roster this season for specific roles and that may be a way that Colbert stays on the roster. Haley likes the type of play that he brings running routes from the slot. If he can get contribute on special teams, Colbert may survive to make the roster.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT

WR Jonathan Baldwin and TE Tony Moeaki – In the big picture of the 2011 season, the injury problems of Baldwin and Moeaki in training camp may be forgotten. But given the importance of both men in the Chiefs passing game, it was disappointing for QB Matt Cassel and the rest of the offense that these guys spent as much time in the rehab area as they did.

With Moeaki it was more cautionary as he was still recovering from an off-season arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. Baldwin’s hamstring pull came during practices, after it appeared that he came into the start of camp in good shape.

These guys need to be available for the Chiefs offense in 2011.


6 Responses to “And The Winner Is …”

  • August 18, 2011  - Tenand6 says:

    The times I was in St. Joe, it appeared that Matt Cassel had a much better camp than last year. I also thought Breaston was outstanding.

    Gretz gets the “Best Summer Camp Reporting” award. No honorable mentions.


  • August 19, 2011  - ron says:

    Really interested to see lawrence and colbert fight for spots at DB and WR. this is a pretty stacked team in terms of players they would like to keep at those positions, and since neither are practice squad, they will have to beat out someone like copper/tucker, and daniels for spots


  • August 19, 2011  - el cid says:

    ron took the words out of my brain, wanted to add Moeaki has been here long enough to know what to do so unless he is really hurt, I expect another good year.


  • August 19, 2011  - Kiowa says:

    Moekai will be just fine, and Baldwin, well, who really knows yet but he is a rookie and will struggle no matter what, especially if Urban plays well.


  • August 19, 2011  - ron says:

    breaston will be playing outside. urban wont see as much time as people think. Bowe/Breaston til baldwin is ready. and Urban will play the slot




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