Friday Morning Cup O’Chiefs

When the Chiefs begin their OTA sessions on Monday at the Truman Sports Complex, there will not be a No. 88 running around on the field.

But Tony Gonzalez will be there.

He will be there in the form of No. 87, second-year tight end Brad Cottam.

Cottam would appear to be the guy who will step into the starting role in the Chiefs offense at tight end. He knows he can’t replace a 12-year, 10-time Pro Bowl veteran like Gonzalez and he won’t even try. If you want to read more about Cottam and stepping into the shoes of No. 88, then visit my story from kcchiefs.com right here.

But Cottam will bring a little bit of Tony G. to the field this year because of everything he learned from No. 88 last year.

“For a guy like me, all I had to do was watch him, watch how he did things, watch how he went about practice every day, watch how he always was doing something to get better,” Cottam said. “He outworks people.

“The best part was he was also willing to share things. If you asked questions, he would answer. There are certain little things and drills that I’ve seen him do that if I keep doing them, it’s going to help me tremendously.”

Now, don’t translate that into Cottam is going to become the type of receiver that Gonzalez was at tight end.

“We really play two different positions,” said Cottam. “I got to play a lot last year, but I was lining up at the tight end spot. Tony was out in the slot, lined up really as a wide receiver. He’s been catching 100 balls a year. I’m not going to be catching that many passes.”

Cottam is more of a traditional tight end than Gonzalez. But the tips he picked up along the way from No. 88 will be a big help for No. 87 when the time comes to catch the ball.

“He does the little things over and over,” Cottam said of Gonzalez. He’s always catching balls after practice, he’s always having somebody throw him passes in between the drills we are doing. I’m trying to make sure I do that now. Get on the jugs machine and take 50 to 100 balls after practice, spend a few extra minutes with the quarterbacks and catch some more balls. I’m just trying to do extra, the way he did.”

Just watching two parts of Gonzalez’s game – his feet and hands – provides plenty of learning opportunities for any young tight end.

“The biggest thing with him is his feet,” Cottam said. “He’s always doing these itty-bitty little steps, usually not even at full speed, but he always had his feet moving. Then you watch him in the games or practices when he runs a play and goes out for a pass, and you see that his feet were always moving. He didn’t stand still, he kept himself in motion.”

Gonzalez is gifted with big hands, but that doesn’t always mean a player can catch the ball. But his ability to make all the catches with his hands and not allow the ball to get to his body has always made him a favorite among quarterbacks. The receivers who catch the ball that way, don’t often see passes bounce off their pads and get picked off by a safety.

“We are always told that, to catch the ball in our hands, but he does it consistently, 100 percent of the time,” said Cottam. “I think it’s from all the extra passes he’s caught along the way. He does not drop it very often and when it happens, a big deal is made of it.”

Running routes is always something that takes a rookie time to learn in the NFL. But sometimes Gonzalez wasn’t the best example for young players to watch.

“I would ask last year and I would be told that this is how the route gets run, but check with Tony because he does it this way and he gets open,” Cottam said with a laugh. “What he has is great vision and he would get on the same page with the quarterback and find open spots in the defense and get the ball.

“We would run the same route and he would end up some place different than me, but it always worked out for him. He wouldn’t always be where he was supposed to be, but he would get the ball. That’s his vision.

“He’s not overly fast. He doesn’t always do everything the way it’s drawn up. But he’s so smooth in what he does and he produces. I’m going to try and copy as much as that as I can.”

Through the off-season strength and conditioning program there have been short sessions on the field with the Chiefs quarterbacks and receivers, so Cottam has gotten the chance to catch a few passes from new QB Matt Cassel.

“It doesn’t matter who or where you are, it’s going to take time to build the chemistry with a quarterback, so you can learn how he does things, how quickly the ball comes off his hands, how fast he makes his reads and decisions,” said Cottam. “It’s a process that we are going through. Right now, it’s huge to be out there doing those things and advancing the relationships.”

No. 88 is gone. But a piece of him lives on in Brad Cottam.

COLTS LOSE TWO IMPORTANT PIECES OF THEIR OFFENSIVE PUZZLE

Howard Mudd got into NFL coaching back in 1974 with the San Diego Chargers. Tom Moore entered t he NFL as an assistant coach in 1977 with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Both Mudd and Moore had been coaching in the college ranks before finding the NFL, Mudd for two years, but Moore for 14 years.

Both men landed in Indianapolis in 1998 as part of Jim Mora’s coaching staff, Mudd handling the offensive line and Moore as offensive coordinator. They stayed with the Colts until Thursday, when both of them retired.

The reasons behind their retirements are unanswered, since neither man has talked about the situation publicly. But part of the problem appears to be changes in the NFL’s pension plan that have caused ripples throughout the pro coaching world since March. That’s when owners voted to allow teams to pull out of the NFL pension plan if they choose.

There are questions about the access to a lump sum retirement payment after this time because of the changes to the plan.

Mudd and Moore were big factors in all the offensive success the Colts have enjoyed with QB Peyton Manning.

Mudd spent four years as the offensive line coach of the Chiefs (1989-92).

MCBRIDE EARNS A SPOT IN JERSEY HALL OF FAME

Chiefs defensive end-outside linebacker Turk McBride will be inducted next month into the South Jersey Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

A two-time Philadelphia Inquirer South Jersey defensive player of the year from Woodrow Wilson High School in Camden, McBride is among six inductees.

McBride was a four-year starter at receiver and at two-year starter at defensive end. In his junior-senior seasons, he had 127 tackles, 29 sacks, 7 recovered fumbles, 4 blocked field goals and 4 blocked punts.

The inductees will be honored on June 24.

DONNELL BENNETT IS HIGH SCHOOL HEAD COACH IN MIAMI

Former Chiefs running back Donnell Bennett has gotten into the coaching ranks and was named recently the head coach at Miami’s Northeast High School.

”I have always loved to teach and help to mold character,” Bennett told the Miami Herald. “I just wanted to give back a little of what was given to me by my father and those who were instrumental in my life and career.”

Over the last few years, Bennett has been working as an assistant coach at his alma mater in Ft. Lauderdale, Cardinal Gibbons. When he was offered the chance to take over the program of one of Gibbons rivals, he never hesitated.

”What the move was about and still is was to help teach the young men we have on this team to do things the right way,” Bennett said. “We wanted to help develop positive skills and work habits and teach them that nothing comes without making sacrifices and plenty of hard work.’”

Here’s the story from the Herald.

SIGNINGS & MOVEMENT AROUND THE LEAGUE

BILLS - RB Marshawn Lynch has filed an appeal over his three-game suspsension from the NFL.

49ERS – signed fifth-round draft choice LB Scott McKillops and seventh-round pick DL Ricky Jean-Francois. There are the second and third 2009 NFL Draft picks signed, after No. 1 choice QB Matt Stafford in Detroit.

SAY HAPPY BIRTHDAY …

Born n May 15, 1986 in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina was current Chiefs OT Barry Richardson. He was selected in the sixth-round of the 2008 NFL Draft out of Clemson. He got only minimal playing time in his rookie season.

Born on May 15, 1965 in Vincennes, Indiana was P Dan Stryzinski. He spent 14 seasons punting in the NFL, including two seasons (2001-02) with the Chiefs. He kicked in 32 games, averaging 39.4 yards on 137 punts.


17 Responses to “Friday Morning Cup O’Chiefs”

  • May 15, 2009  - Anonymous says:

    Thanks for helping us get to know Brad Cottam a little better Bob. Great stuff.


  • May 15, 2009  - Mark says:

    It sounds as if Brad spent his first year in the league very wisely … learning from the best TE in the league and quite possibly the best there has ever been. If he retaines what he has learned, and practices as he has been taught, perhaps there is hope for the Chiefs at TE down the road. Only time will answer these two questions. Best of luck to you Brad!


  • May 15, 2009  - Harold C. says:

    Yeah….I’m encouraged by this article. I look forward to seeing how Cottam does on his own. BTW…1st post…mine. Yeah…I did it again. :?


  • May 15, 2009  - Rip 'em a new one says:

    Interesting to note that the Chiefs have been drafting TEs for the past few years in hopes of building depth and, obviously, replacing Tony G in due time. That time came a little sooner than we all thought but actually, given his age, how much more or how much longer could a team expect out of Tony G anyway?

    The book on Cottam’s drafting last year was about his blocking skills as I recall. It’ll be interesting to see how the Chiefs use him now that Tony G is gone as there aren’t many TEs around that possess WR skills.

    If the Chiefs somehow get 40-50 catches and 5 TDs out of Cottam in 2009 while getting solid blocking out of him for their running and protection schemes, Cottam will have more than earned his keep. Comparing his numbers to Tony G would not be fair from the standpoint of pure offensive production alone and I believe we should all keep that in mind.


  • May 15, 2009  - Scott says:

    The comparisons are going to be there from a lot of people, no matter what…which is pretty unfair to Brad Cottam. At least he has his “head straight” about it. He’ll never be Tony G…and he knows that. As long as everyone doesn’t expect him to be, I think he’ll do just fine. That’s a lot of extra pressure to put on a young man.


  • May 15, 2009  - findthedr says:

    nice post JBchiefs.

    Health will definetly be an issue for him. His competition for pass catching TE will likely be Jack O’Connel who has been good in OTA’s and has similar speed, but not size.

    Bob, thanks for the article during the NFL doldrums. Keep ‘em coming!


  • May 15, 2009  - Mike in MO says:

    T appears that Brad Colttam watched and learned last year. He understands how TG’s work ethic allowed him to become the best TE in league history, and I get the feeling Brad will work very hard to become the best TE he can become.


  • May 15, 2009  - Rin Tin Tin says:

    Dear Brad

    How’s the weather up there? Say ‘hi’ to Morris Stroud for me, will you?

    Now then, season second & future yours awaits… attack it as a shipwrecked man clings to a life preserver & imagines rescue.

    From ‘The Graduate’ 1967: “I want you to remember one word…plastics.” Brad, your plastic comes by way a legendary TE who set the standard…he was so good your words must number two: Fred Arbanas.

    Fred is the goal – shoot for the top – but a Tony Gonzalez is the more ‘realistic’ destination your football travels nee travails will bring you.

    You only go around once…give it your best shot, Brad. While you may not ever become even as good as Gonzalez who likewise never became as good as Fred Arbanas – persevere at any, as did Tony.

    As a complete player you can exceed #88, whose ID and name recognition to the casual fan was in the passing game – even to the end he wasn’t a really good blocker – but, from as bad as he was when he arrived here in KC, he became serviceable.

    Remember, no one can become a Fred Arbanas – even Fred himself had a daunting task living up to his own matchless game. So don’t seek to exceed Fred, just be satisfied with 2nd best – set your sights on Tony.

    Best

    Rin Tin Tin

    :-)


  • May 15, 2009  - boomer says:

    It’s sad to hear that two good men have to retire because of some pension plan dispute. What a crock that is!
    Good article on Brad Cottam! I seem to remember Tony dropping a lot of balls early in his career. But he kept working at it, as the article points out.
    Early in his career Willie Lanier was compared to other linebackers, especially Dick Butkus and Mike Curtis. It wasn’t long that other linebackers were soon being compared to Willie Lanier. Right now Brad Cottam is being compared to other tight ends…but maybe someday, with a lot of work, other tight ends will be compared to Brad Cottam.


  • May 15, 2009  - jimbo says:

    I personally had no idea that Cottam was that big. A man would have to think his hands are big too.
    You would think with Cottam’s size and blocking ability that he could very well be a integral part of the Chiefs offense. Now, if he has learned anything.. something.. from Tony G’s work ethic, footwork and catching with his hands only ability. Mr. Cottam could certainly develop to be a “go to guy” on third down situations.
    Maybe the “Minds That Be” have recognized Cottams potential to be a solid replacement for Tony.
    Thus Tony being traded to Atlanta.
    Maybe we are consistently a step behind the decisions of the “Minds That Be”. Time will tell… The Right 53 ???


  • May 15, 2009  - anonymous says:

    Cottam nailed it when he talked about how TG’s feet are always moving. I think that’s been the secret to his longevity and incredibly injury free career. The way TG absorbed hits, much like safer barriers in NASCAR or crumple zones in modern vehicles, Tony absorb the energy of hits by keeping his feet moving. Another positive about keeping your feet moving, especially for really tall guys like TG and Cottam, is it protects those knees from diving saftys and corners.

    I think the kid gets it, mentally, now lets see if he can physically.


  • May 15, 2009  - SG says:

    “He doesn’t always do everything the way it’s drawn up. But he’s so smooth in what he does and he produces. I’m going to try and copy as much as that as I can.”

    Hopefully Cottam will be able to practice his own game in the way that TG88 practiced his game. If he finds out the parts of his own game where he surpasses TG88 and then applies the techniques he was able to while watching him, he might find himself on the road to success.


  • May 15, 2009  - RedandGoldRice says:

    Damn, Will Franklin already got cut from the Lions. I wonder how much you can read into that about him as a player?


  • May 15, 2009  - anonymous says:

    LOL,

    Guess he really made a big impression!

    Not sure what it is but, something about Franklin is turning Coaches off, in a hurry.


  • May 16, 2009  - colby says:

    Well guys, apparently Haley and Pioli weren’t foolish when they cut Franklin. There’s certainly something he isn’t doing right as a player or person.


  • May 16, 2009  - ED says:

    Actually I think Brad will do fine if he can stay healthy. He’s about as big as Tony but I think he’s got alot more speed than Tony has. If he can just stay healthy which was always a concern in college I think he can be a productive tight end in this league because he certainly has the size and athleticism to be.




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