GRETZ: Postcards from Mini-Camp
May 15, 2006, 8:29:33 AM by Bob Gretz - FAQ
Thoughts, observations and notes from the first mini-camp of the Herman Edwards Era with the Chiefs:
Each and every one of the five practices started with a special teams drill, and there were more segments for the kicking game in each practice.
That¬ís a significant difference from a year ago, when the Chiefs barely touched on any special teams work in their mini-camps. That¬ís not to say that Dick Vermeil ignored the kicking game. Once training camp started, there probably wasn¬ít a team in the league that spent more practice time on special teams, right through the regular season. Unfortunately, all that time did not pay off in production last season.
Edwards established immediately with his youngsters, and will do so again with his veterans later this week with a full-squad camp, that the kicking game is going to be a very important part of this team¬ís preparation.
¬ďWe¬íll start every practice with the kicking game,¬Ē said Edwards. ¬ďWe are going to work on it.¬Ē
That work started this past weekend.
TAMBA, TAMBA, TAMBA
Watching Tamba Hali go through the drills and teamwork over five days and several things standout. One: he¬ís not physically imposing when he¬ís out there with other defensive linemen or butting up against the offensive line. Two: he¬ís one heckuva athlete, with an on-off switch that¬ís mostly on.
While he may not be as tall or as heavy as some of the players blocking him, Hali is a handful to control because of his ability to get low and use leverage. Coaches are always looking for knee benders; players who can go full speed while bending their knees. It¬ís not as easy as it sounds. Go out in the driveway and run as fast as you can from one end to the other. Now do the same with your knees bent and your butt down. Great athletes can do this and not slow down.
That¬ís Hali. He exhibited excellent body control and he has a way of getting involved in plays. During Sunday¬ís workout, he also knocked down a pass at the line of scrimmage.
Brodie Croyle and Casey Printers were both impressive, but in different ways, during the five practices.
Croyle looked totally unfazed by being in an NFL camp. He looked comfortable handling the scaled down offense and it¬ís easy to tell he¬ís had some schooling on playing the position. His footwork is very good and his decision-making is quick and decisive. Plus on several throws, he really displayed his arm strength.
Printers may be the most impressive physical specimens at quarterback that the Chiefs have had in the last 25 years at least, maybe longer. In the CFL, a quarterback lives with his running ability as much as his throwing and Printers on several occasions escaped the pocket and turned on the jets. In the pocket, his footwork is not as defined as Croyle¬ís as he has a lot of wasted pitter-patter, but that will come with more work. He also displayed his arm strength several times.
There were very few veterans on the defensive side of the ball, there was no live pass rush and no crowd screaming in their ears, so making judgments on Croyle and Printers is folly right now. But there have been young quarterbacks who have come into mini-camp and looked lost. That¬ís not the case with these two guys.
FREE AGENT RECEIVERS
Once the draft was over, the Chiefs loaded up with a half-dozen rookie free agent wide receivers. Most share a handful of traits: under-producers in college, smart and fast.
Maybe the best of the lot is Chris Hannon out of Tennessee. He¬ís 6-3, 205 and was clocked in the 40-yard dash under 4.5 seconds. He was an underachiever for the Volunteers, playing in 46 career games and catching 69 passes. However, a dozen of those catches went for touchdowns.
Also part of that group is Travis LaTendresse out of Utah. He finished his college career by being the MVP of the Emerald Bowl against Georgia Tech, catching 16 passes in that game for 214 yards and four touchdowns.
The only apparent injury of the weekend was to LB Rich Scanlon¬ís back. He tweaked it during the Friday AM session and did not return for the next four practices ¬Ö there were about a dozen players in for tryouts and at least two showed something in the workouts: RB Derrick Ross and DT Steve Williams. Ross is out of Tarleton State in Texas and was considered by some teams an early-second day draft choice. Williams played at NW Missouri State but missed the end of last season after suffering a sports hernia. He began his college career at Indiana. Both may get the chance to sign on with the Chiefs and take part in this weekend¬ís camp.
The opinions offered in this column do not necessarily reflect those of the Kansas City Chiefs.