RIVER FALLS WRAP: DAY FIVE
Jul 30, 2007, 6:55:04 PM
By Josh Looney
Camping with the Chiefs - Day 5 - FLASH | Windows | Real
Breakdown: Herm Edwards carried a fiery attitude with him into today’s AM practice. The head coach could be heard barking relentlessly to players about everything from fumbling to finishing plays through the whistle.
“This is probably the toughest week in training camp for all 32 teams,” Edwards commented after practice. “This is the toughest week because players are getting a little agitated by mid-week and there are a lot of pads involved this week. We’re no different than a lot of other teams, so I anticipate the tempo to stay the same and us to get better.”
The Red and Gold returned to the practice fields at 3:45 PM and bore full pads for the second time in as many practices. Edwards continued to push his squad through the afternoon heat stressing an up-tempo pace and mental toughness. Today’s practices may have been the most taxing for players this camp.
Hidden Gems: Two players jostling for time in Kansas City’s offensive backfield are players who weren’t necessarily at the forefront of the spotlight with their respective collegiate teams. Nonetheless, these two backs have both looked impressive thus far in training camp and have drawn positive reviews from Herm Edwards.
2007 fifth-round draft pick RB Kolby Smith had started only two career games at Louisville prior to his senior campaign. The versatile runner was slated to back up Heisman hopeful RB Michael Bush (selected in the 4th round by Oakland) in 2006, but Bush suffered a broken leg and Smith was thrust into the starting role by Week Four. He seized his opportunity by rushing for a career-high 891 yards on 154 carries (he only logged a total of 162 carries in his first three collegiate seasons combined) in his senior season.
Rookie free agent RB Marcus O’Keith started only one game during his career at the University of California. The hasty runner’s lack of starts wasn’t due to lack ability, but rather because of the simple fact that 2007 first-round draft pick RB Marshawn Lynch (12th overall, selected by Buffalo) roamed the Golden Bears backfield at the same time as O’Keith. In 46 collegiate games as a reserve, O’Keith still managed to show NFL scouts enough to be offered an NFL contract last April.
These two players are a true testament that if you have NFL talent, scouts will find you. Smith and O’Keith might have been buried in the depth charts behind NFL talent for much of the college careers, but both have patiently waited their turn and are now making waves in an NFL training camp.
Intrigued By Ean: Yesterday we profiled the candidates in Chiefs camp competing for the club’s punt and kickoff returner position vacated by Pro Bowl returner Dante Hall. Since last night I’ve had a handful of emails from fans asking about the prospects of former Big East Special Teams Player of the Year WR Ean Randolph. I caught up with Ean as took extra return reps on the jugs machine after today’s morning practice.
JL: Ean, I’ve received a lot of emails from fans asking what it’s going to take for you to earn the job as the Chiefs primary return man. What do you think it’s going to take for you to secure that role?
ER: “Hard work for one and then I’ve got to make sure I field every kick cleanly. If I just keep listening to (special teams) Coach Priefer I’ll be fine.”
JL: You fielded punts from the jugs machine for about 10 minutes after practice ended. Are you working on changing anything specific about your return game?
ER: “I’m running at kicks from a lot of different directions to get different looks and make sure I’m able to track the ball. I’m also working on keeping my elbows inside when I field the kick, because that was one of my problems in college. I used to just catch the ball with my hands, but I’m really focusing on having my elbows in every time now.”
A New Role For Allen: Unable to play in the first regular season two games of 2007, one of DE Jared Allen’s roles on the team will be to help younger defensive lineman prepare to play in his absence. After the AM session, an NFL Films crews filmed Allen as he worked on release techniques with recently-acquired DT Patrice Majondo-Mwamba.
Shifting Through The Secondary: In 2006, S Jarrad Page served as a nickel safety for much of the season. This year, however, Page is seeking a starting role in the Chiefs defensive backfield. Thus far in camp, Page and S Bernard Pollard have been working as safeties with the first unit while veteran safeties Greg Wesley and Jon McGraw have been taking second-team reps.
In the early stages of this training camp CB Tyron Brackenridge, a rookie free agent out of Washington State and fourth-year CB Benny Sapp have been rotating with the first-team defense at the nickel corner position. Other candidates for the nickel slot include CBs Michael Bragg, Marcus Maxey, Dimitri Patterson, Justin Phinisee and Will Poole.
Plays Of The Day:
AM Session: RB Michael Bennett notched a handful of nice runs this morning; his most impressive carry coming on an isolation play up the middle that he broke into the secondary. S Jarrad Page also added an interception when QB Damon Huard was pressured and under-threw WR Jeff Webb on a deep route down the right sideline.
PM Session: Chiefs defenders intercepted two batted passes this afternoon. During seven-on-seven drills S Jon McGraw broke in front of a route, batting the ball up in the air for LB William Kershaw to intercept. In teamwork coming out of the Chiefs own end zone, S Bernard Pollard continued his pickoff parade this camp by batting a ball in the air and taking the interception back for six.
Big Stix: When the offense and defense came together for 11-on-11 work this morning, there were a number of hits that caused fans’ heads to turn, but the most noteworthy strike might have been one that was not allowed to happen. DE Jimmy Wilkerson beat T Kyle Turley around the right offensive edge for a clear path at the jaw of QB Casey Printers as the former CFL star turned out of a play-action fake. Luckily for Printers, whistles blew and Wilkerson peeled off path as defenders are restricted from touching quarterbacks.
Look Who’s Talking:
S Bernard Pollard: “Whoa, whoa…sorry 87.“
WR Eddie Kennison: “You’re good big man…this is football buddy.“
- A conversation after Pollard tackled Kennison to the ground following a reception in the two-minute drill, a drill where players are told to stay off of the ground.
“Timeout! Get the offense some water; the defense too…you’re an equal opportunity trainer.“
-Herm Edwards commenting to trainers during the two-minute drill
Look Ahead: The Chiefs will add another pair of practices to their schedule on Tuesday, marking their second straight day of two-a-day practices. Sessions are scheduled for 9:00 AM and 3:45 PM.
You Asked It: Submit your questions to River Falls Wrap, Chiefs Chatter and Camping With The Chiefs by clicking the link at the bottom of the page.
Kevin A. from Kansas City: “Having the Hard Knocks film crew running around seems like it could be a distraction. Are players acting any different? Is having the film crew there a positive for what they are trying to accomplish?”
JL: At first it was a little different seeing camera crews along the sidelines and in meetings during the first couple days of camp, but the crews have pretty much blended into the scenery at this point. NFL Films is working with the team to tell the story of an NFL training camp. There’s a certain give-and-take that goes on every day. So far none of the camera bearers have been run over during practices, but one did get a little too close for comfort to one of the sleds yesterday. As for the players acting differently because of the cameras, certainly a few of the guys have taken advantage of the opportunity to ham it up a little, but for the most part, having cameras around is part of professional athletes. The essence of Hard Knocks is capturing the fact that professional football isn’t a 9-to-5 job, it’s a seven-day-a-week occupation, especially in training camp. Hopefully, Chiefs fans will get some further insight into some of the grueling schedule that training camp entails, in addition to showing the lighter side of your favorite players and coaches.
Will from Kansas City, KS: “If I read the training camp schedule correctly, the yearly Family Fun Night is scheduled for Wednesday, August 8th. If this is correct, can I ask why that date was chosen?”
JL: You did read the camp schedule correctly Will. The Chiefs have frequently hosted their annual Family Fun Night on Saturday evenings. This year’s camp schedule, however, created a bit of a scheduling quirk since the Chiefs host the Vikings in an evening scrimmage on Saturday, August 4th, meaning the stadium will be crowded with both Chiefs and Vikings fans. A focal feature of FFN is an opportunity for Chiefs fans to get autographs from their favorite players and those opportunities would most likely be sparse that night. The following Saturday is also unavailable as the Chiefs play at Cleveland. In the end, the decision to hold FFN on August 8th was made in order to accommodate Chiefs fans without disrupting the club’s normal practice schedule more than necessary.