With no morning team practice, the Chiefs had fresh legs this afternoon, and it showed. Despite the heat, the tempo of practice moved at perhaps it’s quickest pace since camp began, much to the delight of Head Coach Herm Edwards.
THE GUNTHER CUNNINGHAM EXPERIENCE
I’m going to stop calling Gunther Cunningham a defensive coordinator, because if training camp is any indication, he’s having more fun being a linebackers coach this year. He’s reveling in his newfound responsibility, and it’s a delight to watch.
This afternoon Cunningham had his linebackers attack a blocking sled until it seemed their bodies would fall apart. As each player took his turn slamming into the sled and driving it upwards, Cunningham circled his miniature house of pain shouting words of encouragement and motivation.
The scene was unlike anything I’ve witnessed at training camp before, worthy of appearance on HBO’s Hard Knocks. It was like something out of a movie, and I stood enraptured, almost certain I could hear dramatic music playing in the background as General Cunningham attempted to inspire his troops.
But this afternoon’s early session involved more than mere motivational speeches. When the next drill began - a simple exercise pitting linebackers in one-on-one matchups - Cunningham told one player to correct the alignment of his right foot, which was a whopping 12 inches off the correct mark. I guess the old saying is true – football is truly a game of inches.
Then the explosion happened. Linebacker DeMorrio Williams couldn’t quite get the hang of the drill, was obviously frustrated and hurled profanity at no one in particular. Cunningham noticed immediately, got right in his player’s face and told him if he didn’t want to do the drill, he should leave. Williams, of course, did not. He finished the drill, and later that afternoon it was hard to spot a more motivated defender on the practice field.
Middle linebacker Napoleon Harris played mostly with the second-team defense this afternoon. In his place was backup Pat Thomas. The Chiefs may have something of a battle going on in the middle, because KC’s run defense was pretty good this afternoon.
Damion McIntosh was back at practice today after sustaining an apparently minor knee injury on Monday. Jarrad Page, who injured his left leg near the end of Monday’s practice, also returned and played with the first team.
PLAYS OF THE DAY
The Chiefs were running a 7-on-7 drill near the end zone, and Bernard Pollard only had a few yards to defend. As Brodie Croyle dropped back, he pump faked hard toward Pollard’s area, attempting to draw the safety away from wide receiver Dwayne Bowe. Pollard, however, stayed home, watched Croyle like a hawk and effortlessly slapped away a high pass intended for Bowe in the back of the end zone.
Give Jamaal Charles an alley, and he’ll take it all the way. Today when KC’s second-team offense took the field, Charles found room off right tackle and turned the corner to daylight. When safety DaJuan Morgan took a poor angle, it was all over. Charles accelerated past Morgan like he was standing still and would have easily scored a touchdown in a real game.
Give Kolby Smith an opportunity, and he’ll make you look like a fool. It wasn’t a good day for Morgan as he got victimized by a second running back later on in practice. Smith met Morgan in a hole just past the line of scrimmage, and pulled a back-and-forth move that practically disintegrated the rookie safety. The running back continued to weave his way downfield to the sound of the loudest cheer of training camp so far.
Devard Darling accelerated off the line of scrimmage at the snap and broke his route into the middle of the field as he approached the end zone. Brodie Croyle’s pass was a bit high, and cornerback Patrick Surtain was draped all over Darling like a blanket, but the free-agent signee leapt into the air, secured the ball and shrugged off the cornerback for a touchdown. That’s how you win a starting job.
Dwayne Bowe simply keeps getting open and making plays. Today the second-year receiver was all over the place, and even when he didn’t catch the ball, he impressed. To start 11-on-11’s, Bowe toasted Patrick Surtain for what looked like a sure long touchdown, but Brodie Croyle overthrew the pass. Later, Bowe again victimized Surtain down the field despite tight coverage, going up to catch a purposefully underthrown ball from Croyle for a gain of about 25 yards. Bowe did drop a pass toward the end of the session, but he’s consistently showing up day in and day out. Now I’ve got to check out his blocking.
Glenn Dorsey is learning fast. Today, he was part of the reason KC’s first-team offense really struggled to run the ball, especially at the beginning of practice. On the second snap of 11-on-11’s, the rookie destroyed an attempt by Larry Johnson. Later, Dorsey blew past Brian Waters, ran down Johnson from behind in the backfield and despite quite an effort from the running back to break free, Dorsey would not let go and recorded a tackle for loss.
Brodie Croyle easily had his worst day of practice Tuesday afternoon. His first pass was broken up by Patrick Surtain, later he overthrew a wide open Dwayne Bowe, and despite a nifty touchdown pass to Jeff Webb in 7-on-7 drills, there were way too many dumpoff completions for my liking. There was a brief session of 11-on-11 where Croyle looked good, but he finished the day with an awful attempt at the two-minute drill, misfiring on his first three passes (one almost intercepted by Donnie Edwards) before completing a fourth down attempt, only to finish up the mock drive with another wing-and-a-prayer (Croyle’s first two-minute drill ended with a hail mary) thrown across the field from 19 yards out.
Tony Gonzalez dropped two more passes today. That’s five in five days of practice by my count. Hey, he’s still going to the Pro Bowl this year and the Hall of Fame eventually, but fair is fair.
OVERHEARD / THE GUNTHER CUNNINGHAM EXPERIENCE - PART II
“Go downhill, into briar patch. That’s where the fight is.”
- General Cunningham, directing his army.
“It’s not natural, but it’s got to become part of you.”
- Cunningham on hitting.
“There ya go! I felt that one!”
- Cunningham dishing out a little praise.
“Give them a call for the front, you’re the middle linebacker!
- Cunningham, who was so disgusted with Pat Thomas he threw a water bottle into the air.
“There you go, Glenn, fresh legs, good!”
- Defensive line coach Tim Krumrie, congratulating Glenn Dorsey on another perfectly executed rope drill.
“Don’t get up real fast, lay on ‘em. Let the clock run.”
- Head Coach Herm Edwards, dispensing a top secret defensive strategy.
Damon Huard, Tamba Hali, Kevin Robinson, Brian Johnston and Trevor Johnson sat out Tuesday’s practice.
Chiefs Arrive In River Falls