Clear skies and temperatures around 70 degrees greeted the Chiefs today as they finally hammered out a real practice inside the stadium. Dozens of Chiefs fans also showed up, the largest crowd at training camp thus far. Also in attendance was Chairman of the Board Clark Hunt.
When the Chiefs began 9-on-9 drills today, rookie Brian Johnston replaced Tamba Hali at right defensive end with the starters. On the other side of the line of scrimmage, Mike Cox joined the first-team at fullback.
Defensive Coordinator Gunther Cunningham looks like he's obsessed with fixing KC's run defense, which ranked 28th year ago. He was extremely animated during a gap-control drill with his linebackers early today, and was again vocal during 9-on-9's when his defense gave up a big run.
The first official 9-on-9 session conducted on grass saw Kansas City's starting offense ram the ball right down the defense's throat. The Chiefs got a good push from their offensive line and Larry Johnson, Kolby Smith and Jamaal Charles all broke runs into the secondary. The defense did manage to hold the fort toward the end, however, with linebacker Napoleon Harris sticking Johnson in the backfield (despite a good second-level block from Rudy Niswanger) and safety Jarrad Page coming up to make a stop at the line.
The second-team offense did not fare as well. For the most part, the second defensive unit completely shut them down throughout the practice, with left defensive end Turk McBride getting good penetration time and again.
Finally getting to practice on grass had a noticeable effect on the Chiefs' enthusiasm. This morning's session was lively and spirited, with lots of hitting and players tackled to the ground again and again.
PLAYS OF THE DAY
Brodie Croyle took a five-step drop, surveyed the secondary for a brief moment and then unleashed a 25-yard rocket down the left side of the field. It sizzled into the hands of tight end Tony Gonzalez, who did have to leap to make the catch after beating corner Brandon Flowers. Maybe the most impressive part of Croyle's throw was the fact that Tamba Hali was breathing down his neck from behind. The play drew the loudest cheer of the afternoon.
Donnie Edwards may be 35, but he can still cover the best of them, as he did on one play with Tony Gonzalez, running stride for stride with the All-Pro tight end. Brodie Croyle's ill-advised pass would have been easily intercepted had Gonzalez not broken up the play like a defensive back.
The first clear look at Brodie Croyle was enjoyable. In 11-on-11 drills today the young quarterback completed eight of nine passes. Aside from his near interception, the only other down point was a fumbled snap. Croyle also made use of audibles at the line of scrimmage.
A quick recap of Croyle's completions:
• A short pass over the middle to Tony Gonzalez
• An accurate dart to the right side of the field and into the hands of wideout Maurice Price.
• A bullet right into Dwayne Bowe's chest about 15 yards down the field, despite a messy pocket right in Croyle's face. Bowe picked up some yards after the catch.
• A dumpoff to a running back after Alfonso Boone applied pressure.
• Another short one to Gonzalez.
• The 25-yard sizzler referenced above.
• A screen pass to Larry Johnson.
• Another dumpoff after Brian Johnston put some heat on.
Branden Albert looks pretty comfortable at left tackle. He's struggling a bit with his footwork, which is understandable since he's a converted guard, but he more than held his own against Tamba Hali this morning. Brodie Croyle had time to throw and there were no sacks against the first-team offensive line.
Give it up for President/GM Carl Peterson. He got the most important draft class in recent Chiefs history signed, sealed and delivered by July 26, with Glenn Dorsey agreeing to terms this morning.
Where did the stupid urban myth about Larry Johnson loafing on plays come from? Watching him in training camp, you'd think he chugs Red Bull and wolfs down Guarana extract for his pre-practice snack. Today Johnson refused to go down even after the whistle had blown, and he was constantly spinning and laying shoulders into defenders. On one particular snap, he wrestled himself away from three defenders before going after cornerback Tyron Brackenridge for more. Rumors of LJ's demise are greatly exaggerated. Speaking purely as a fan, it's going to be a treat to watch him every day.
Neither of KC's backup quarterbacks were terribly impressive Saturday morning. Tyler Thipgen and Damon Huard both badly overthrew a couple of passes, and Huard had a pass batted up into the air at the line of scrimmage. At least he swatted the ball into the ground before anyone picked it off.
I'm not sure if Damion McIntosh is going to make it through camp the way Alfonso Boone keeps bull-rushing him into the backfield. Boone is simply too strong for McIntosh. This is a matchup to keep an eye on, because both players are key starters this year.
"Get your heads up! There's no damn money in the ground!"
- Defensive line coach Tim Krumrie, urging his players during drills.
"Attitude! Attitude! Let's go! Don't be too nice. You're too nice."
- Krumrie attempting to inject a little nastiness into his players.
"Today, when they run this, I want you to kill them."
- Defensive Coordinator Gunther Cunningham, delivering an ultimatum to his linebackers during drills.
"NEVER do that again! You make that damn play."
- Cunningham, delivering some post-play criticism after a defender missed a tackle in 9-on-9 drills.
"We've got to be a little bit more violent. We've got the pads on…it was a little bit of a pillow fight early."
- Head Coach Herm Edwards, expressing a desire for a rougher practice.
"Calm down, boy!"
- An unidentified assistant coach, amused by Larry Johnson's desire to break 30 tackles on every snap.
"Wow, Jared Allen sure shrunk. Look at #69!"
- A Chiefs fan just getting to know defensive tackle Derek Lokey.
Wide receiver/kick returner Kevin Robinson did not participate for the second straight day. He did run some warm-up exercises before practice, however, and was later spotted doing ball work.
Chiefs Arrive In River Falls
Finally, we got some action that vaguely resembled the game of football. I'll start with a couple…