The franchise has undergone a lot of changes this offseason and the quick and quiet entrance of the players and staff showed it will be a different kind of training camp this year. It was off the bus and into South Fork Suites, where the players and coaches will stay the next 22 days.
Head Coach Todd Haley was the second person to step off the first bus and was dressed for the occasion, wearing a navy blue suit and a smile. Haley said his trip to Wisconsin was a great way to begin camp.
"The flight was very nice," he said. "It was nice to get on a plane with the team; my last flight was depressing after the Super Bowl."
When asked about the absence of first-round pick defensive end Tyson Jackson, who has yet to sign with the team, Haley said: "I'm just gonna worry about my guys here."
One player Haley thinks has come ready to perform is quarterback Matt Cassel, but he was quick to point out that Cassel still has a job to do while at camp.
"He's just one of the guys competing for a spot," said Haley. "He's done everything he can do to succeed up to this point."
As Haley begins his first training camp with the Chiefs and as a head coach, he's looking forward to a productive three weeks.
"I'm really excited," he said. "I'm gonna have to temper myself and know I can't get it all done in a day."
Currently the team is scheduled to rotate every other day between one-a-day and two-a-day practices. Haley said he hopes the days that allow the players extra time off will allow the team to get in more off-the-field work.
"They'll have some [free] time, that's what I like about the schedule, it will give them time to study," he said. "If that doesn't work we'll make a change; I'm not afraid of change."
Haley briefly discussed the conditioning test the players will undergo tomorrow and stressed that it's challenging enough to require work in the off weeks. It's not just a test of physical and mental readiness, but a tool to make sure the players are conditioned to compete now at the start of camp and not later on in the season.
"The first thing I want to see is everybody pass the test," said Haley. "Before that, I want to see everyone make weight."
Third-round pick defensive end Alex Magee said he was happy to be at camp on time, and has been in contact with Jackson. Magee suggested that Jackson wants to be at camp and a signing was close.
"Whenever you finish something like that, it's a burden off your shoulders," he said.
Running back Larry Johnson, who endured some legal troubles this offseason, said he believes the organization is giving him an opportunity for a fresh start and was excited about the changes in the franchise.
"It's their dedication to win more than two games, it's nothing they say," he said. "It's their approach to it."
Johnson, who was vocal about his unhappiness with the franchise last season, said there wasn't much to say about the comments he had made in the past, and that fans would see him as a different player this season.
"The way I run and go into the game, you may see a 2002 LJ back in college," he said.
Offensive guard Brian Waters did not respond to interview requests.
The extent of media access during camp is still in question. General Manager Scott Pioli and Haley will receive tours of the UW-River Falls campus this evening to determine regulations. Pioli did not address the media.
Stay tuned to Warpaint Illustrated for more daily coverage from Chiefs training camp in River Falls.
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