Lift & Run Is Haley’s Way … Saturday Cup O’Chiefs

From St. Joseph, Missouri

Chris Harr is 21-year old rookie guard from Chattanooga, Tennessee who is taking the hardest road that can be traveled to begin a career in the NFL. He signed with the Chiefs this week as an undrafted college free agent.

(On the left, that’s Jonathan Baldwin and Todd Haley talking before Friday’s practice.)

Harr was on the field Friday for the first practice of training camp. On a steamy afternoon where the humidity seemed a physical, living monster, Harr ran on the practice field at Missouri Western State University. He walked on the field. Harr stood on the field.

And eventually he was down on his hands and knees, losing his lunch, breakfast and quite possibly dinner from the night before. It was a moment that was hard to miss, even from 100 yards away. Eventually, he got back on his feet with the help of some trainers.

Welcome to the 2011 NFL season, one that started just this week and has forced players, coaches and 32 teams to go old school in the first days of camp. Thirty years ago, players came to training camp to get in shape. Over the last decade that changed and players showed up for camp in good condition. Those that did not take part in their club’s off-season conditioning programs often found themselves on the street, looking for work.

On the MWSU practice fields on Friday, Todd Haley started making up for the off-season conditioning program that was cancelled by the owners’ lockout. The Chiefs head coach knows that time in the pre-season is limited; his team’s first pre-season game is now less than two weeks away and the regular season is just six weeks down the road.

But he’s not going to worry about installing offensive or defensive schemes right now.

He wants to find out how hard his players worked on their own when it comes to strength and conditioning. 

“We missed a lot, and we can’t cram it all into a couple days,” Haley said. “We are going to try and be patient and gather steam as we go. We have to make sure our team is ready to hold up to the rigors of an NFL season.”

So in practice No. 1 of the season, Haley put his team through a 2 ½ -hour session that wrapped up with 15 minutes of running – for those that were still able to stay on their feet. Halfway through the run, DL Dion Gales wasn’t so much running, as he was wobbling and several times he dropped to his knees. But he got up and finished the run.

“I think I lost about 10 pounds out there today,” said QB Matt Cassel, who showed he was in very good shape. “But it felt really good to be out there together again.”

Last year’s off-season program set a standard for the Chiefs franchise that’s going to be hard for future teams to match. There was near perfect attendance, not only for on-field work, but for strength and conditioning sessions. It was a remarkable display of buying into the program Haley set up.

And it paid off on the field. The Chiefs did not lose a starter for the season at any point last year. In fact, starters and key contributors were lost for a total of 24 games, a miniscule figure in a game as physical and punishing as football. Dexter McCluster was out the longest, missing five games with a high-ankle sprain.

McCluster considered those games out of the lineup during every workout of the off-season whether he was at home in Florida, back in Oxford, Mississippi and in Kansas City

“I worked hard on my legs and ankles to make sure that doesn’t happen again,” McCluster said. “I’m 100 percent now and I plan on staying that way.”

Based on the eye-ball test, the Chiefs players that were on the field Friday showed they were in pretty good shape. Some of the big guys struggled through the day, but that’s not unusual in that type of weather, even if they are in good shape.

“There’s no way you can condition yourself for a football practice,” said DE Glenn Dorsey. “You can run and lift, but you can’t simulate running the plays and bouncing off guys and that type of thing. That’s always tougher and it was tough today.

“But I think the guys did a good job. Everybody seemed in pretty good shape.”

Here’s the list of starters and key contributors who missed games last year:

 Player

 Injury

Games Missed

LT Branden Albert

Groin

1

QB Matt Cassel

Appendix

1

WR Chris Chambers

Finger

2

CB Brandon Flowers

Hamstring

1

DE Tyson Jackson

Knee

4

FS Kendrick Lewis

Hamstring/ankle

4

RG Ryan Lilja

Thumb

1

WR Dexter McCluster    

Ankle

5

FS Jon McGraw

Concussion/knee

4

TE Tony Moeaki

Concussion

1


2 Responses to “Lift & Run Is Haley’s Way … Saturday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • July 30, 2011  - Zach says:

    Nice article, Bob! Thanks for the practice report too.


  • July 30, 2011  - Adam says:

    I bet Cassel was in such great shape because of his Tubes. Haha. Great article Bob!




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