Battling For Improvement … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs

From the Truman Sports Complex

It happens between 12 and 15 times every Chiefs practice, and when it happens it comes with its own sound effects of two men grunting, pads crunching, heavy breathing and hand-to-hand fighting. It’s better than any of those cartoons where giant robots or space aliens fight with each other.

It’s Branden Albert on offense, and Tamba Hali (left) on defense. A pair of former first-round picks for the Chiefs Albert and Hali are frequent combatants during practice, whether those workouts went down in St. Joseph for three weeks of training camp, or back at their facility for another three weeks of practice before they open the 2010 regular season.

Sometimes it’s in one-on-one blocking drills for the running game, or one-on-one matchups in pass rush and pass protection. Most of the time they crash into each other comes during teamwork portions of practices when the No. 1 offense takes on the No. 1 defense.

“It’s just guys trying to get better so we can help our team win” is how Albert described the matchup that goes down in practice.

Sadly, that’s about all the words we’ll hear from either player about their battles.


Both have bought into the Parcellsian belief that players should be seen and not heard. Despite the fact that Albert and Hali are guys with very high IQs that speak well and thoughtfully, they don’t have much to say. Hali has nothing to say, turning down interview requests while at the same time asking how the person in front of him is doing. Albert talks, but he’s so guarded in what he says that insight is almost impossible to pull from his limited words.

So we are left to rely on head coach Todd Haley to talk about these guys. Luckily, this is one spot where he doesn’t mind talking about his players and what they are getting done.

“When Tamba brings it, like he brings it … you don’t see this guy calling off the dogs very often,” Haley said. “I see a good battle from Branden and Tamba on a daily basis. That’s going to make both of them better. I think Branden is benefitting from that work every day. All the things that he’s done to put himself in a position to succeed, no he’s working, he’s got some great competition and that makes the games a little bit easier for him. He’s just got to keep it going.”

Let’s cut to Monday afternoon’s practice at the Chiefs facility. It’s a hot, humid, just brutal day to be running around in helmets and full pads. But the Chiefs are out there in the thick of the heat, going through a practice that will clock in at just over two hours.

About 90 minutes into the workout, the offensive and defensive line come together for pass pro/pass rush; its one-on-one battles. Hali is actually over with the other linebackers getting ready for the seven-on-seven passing drill when defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel calls him out of the huddle and sends him to rush the passer.

The rest of the linemen involved are waiting for Hali to get there, because that extends their break before they have to stat banging bodies again. Plus, like everyone else, they like watching Albert-Hali go after each other.

  1. Snap #1 – Hali fired off the snap of the ball and got himself on Albert’s outside shoulder before the big tackle could react. The linebacker used his speed to blow around Albert. It was a victory rush for the defense.
  2. Snap #2 – Mixing things up, Hali decided to go inside on this rush, forcing Albert into a backpedaling as he tries to get his hands on the rusher. But Hali did a great job knocking his hands away and it’s another victory rush for the defense.
  3. Snap #3 – Hali came flying off the snap and headed on an outside rush. But this time, Albert moved his feet quickly and forced Hali to adjust his path, moving it further outside. From there Albert rode him deep before Hali got past him at the last moment. Call this one a draw; both guys got things done, but did not win the snap.

That’s what goes down time-after-time, practice-after-practice. On a football team that does not have enough talent, here are two of the best players on the roster pushing each other to be even better.

It’s working for Albert, who has been solid at left tackle in pass protection and run blocking over all the practices and two games.

“He is making progress; I felt that about Branden going back to last year,” said Haley. “From a conditioning aspect he bought into that thought process, believing in what he was being told that he could be a better player if he were in better condition and at a certain weight. He went into an adjustment period of dealing with his new body (last year-, but eventually he was playing at a high level.

“This year, he stayed in shape when the season ended and came into this year at a baseline, and then he built from there. He’s gotten stronger, he’s gotten quicker, he’s gotten more stamina and then on top of that, Branden has this No. 91 lining up across from him every day. ”


  • BEARS – signed QB Todd Collins, last with the Redskins; released injured WR Eric Peterman (thumb).
  • BILLS – signed TE J.P. Foschi, last with the Bengals and the Chiefs before that; released injured TE Michael Matthews (foot); released CB John Destin.
  • BRONCOS – released RB Tony Baker, OL Kirk Barton and WR Patrick Carter.
  • CHARGERS – signed G Lee Grimes, last with Buccaneers.
  • COLTS – signed CB Glenn Sharpe, last with Saints and Falcons; signed RB Allen Patrick; released QB Tim Hiller.
  • DOLPHINS – released NT Travis Ivey, RB Tristan Davis and TE Korey Sperry.
  • FALCONS – signed OT Mark Ortmann, last with the Panthers.
  • JETS – agreed to a new contract with C Nick Mangold, a 7-year, $55 million deal; placed DE Ropati Pitoitua on the injured reserve list (Achilles) ending his season.
  • PATRIOTS – released injured DL Kade Weston; re-signed S Ross Ventrone; released CB Terrence Johnson.
  • REDSKINS – signed S Tyrone Carter, last with the Steelers; released LB Chris Draft.
  • SAINTS – released injured RB P.J. Hill after he suffered a triceps injury; signed RB DeShawn Wynn, last with the Packers.
  • SEAHAWKS – released WR Mike Hass.
  • STEELERS – re-signed LB/LS Matt Stewart; released WR Isaiah Williams.
  • TEXANS – signed WR Derrick Townsel, previously with the Jaguars.

4 Responses to “Battling For Improvement … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • August 24, 2010  - Michael says:

    Bob, what positions will the team look at signing players after the cut down?

  • August 24, 2010  - Kenneth says:

    I hope they will look at NT’s, its likely someone will try to sneek someone decent onto their PS.

  • August 24, 2010  - Edward says:

    Both of these guys have potential to be pro bowl players at each individual position hopefully they can continue to push each other to that level.

  • August 24, 2010  - Dan-NY says:

    That is a great article Bob. The coaches know that, in part, the player can learn to excel in a crucible of adversity, the best vs. the best.

Get the Flash Player to see the slideshow.


Other News