I've collected a few of the stories making the rounds on the Kansas City Chiefs OTAs this past week. The Chiefs practiced on Thursday and Friday with the final session being open to the media.
The Chiefs concluded this round of practice with no major injuries. The next round will take place on June 1st and 2nd. Click here for the full schedule of OTAs.
81 players attended
According to Bob Gretz, 81 players attended practice and 74 of those participated. There were also five players missing from practice including Brian Waters, Mike Vrabel, Larry Johnson, Tamba Hali and Donald Washington.
Waters is still missing camp due to a reported tiff with management. I get into Vrabel, Johnson and Hali's absence below. Washington can't attend camp until Ohio State graduates per NFL rules.
The injured players who attended but didn't participate include Glenn Dorsey, Tank Tyler, Turk McBride, Maurice Leggett, Brian Johnston, Brodie Croyle and Kolby Smith.
Todd Haley says Mike Vrabel is "excited" to be here
Just a few days ago, I took a closer look at why new Chief Mike Vrabel wasn't attending the voluntary OTAs. I suggested money, age and the fact that they are supposed to be voluntary as possible reasons for his absence. Since he hasn't responded to calls about his absence, Haley finally addressed his situation.
“I would say that Mike is excited to get here and I’m excited to see him in action and see where he is at. We have been giving him the information and he has been working, calling and checking in. We will see when he gets here where we stand just like any of the guys who haven’t been here."
Of course, you gotta take this with a grain of salt. It's not like Haley would talk about any divisive issues anyway. But this does appear to be good news for the 2009 Chiefs season.
Haley said he expects him to attend the mandatory sessions.
Add two more to those missing camp
On Friday, Tamba Hali and Larry Johnson were absent from camp. Like the Waters and Vrabel situations, Haley said he was aware of their absences. We're not sure why either of them missed but it doesn't appear to be an issue.
Hali has had no reported issues with management so his absence isn't worrying.
Johnson's absence is curious considering his history with Chiefs management. However, I don't see this as a foreshadow to any more problems because Johnson knows his best chance at getting anywhere near the $4.55 million he's due in 2009 is with the Chiefs. His value has plummeted with the off-the-field issues and since he's apparently interested in getting paid, I imagine his absence was "cleared" with Haley.
Haley also talked a little bit about Johnson following Friday's practice. He seemed to be overall pleased with the direction he's going.
“I think Larry is working hard. He has made some runs in the last few practices that I thought were pretty special and showed signs of somebody who can run the football. I was very encouraged and a couple of those flashed at me and the coaches to where you say, ‘that was pretty good.’ If Larry continues to work, stay on point and do the things asked of him, I think he will definitely have a chance to help us.”
I'm changing my tune on Johnson. I've been on the fence about whether he should be part of this team or not. To me, he should be given an opportunity to run with the offense.
He's the best running back on the roster and will be a good complement to Jamaal Charles.
3-4, 4-3, whatever
The biggest topic of conversation around here has been the reported transition from the 4-3 to the 3-4 defense. Who fits where, who doesn't fit, what else is needed, etc. We've gone over all of it ad nauseum.
According to Bob Gretz, there's no reason to restrict the Chiefs defense to a 3-4 or a 4-3 or a 4-3 under. It'll be all of them given the situation.
Even in its most basic form it’s obvious that everyone needs to quit trying to put this defense into a 3-4 hole or 4-3 hole. It’s going to be a lot of things, and it’s going to change from game to game, heck from down to down based on what they showed on Thursday. One defensive set in the dime had six defensive backs and five guys standing at the line of scrimmage.
Like the management staff has been saying, the Chiefs don't appear to be forcing square pegs into a round hole. They're going to play the defense that A) fits the personnel and B) is best for that down.
3rd and 1, they could put two big defensive tackles in the middle to stuff the run. 1st and 10, they could run a 3-4. I think this is the best move for the team but it won't stop us from speculating on the future of the defense.
Interesting quote of the week (Bob Gretz)
The difference in speed between Bowe and Lawrence was striking.
Don't look too far into this. Bowe is still the best receiver on the team (by a large margin) until proven otherwise.
Here are a few links to coverage of the Chiefs OTAs on Thursday and Friday
Bob Gretz: Voluntary camps aren't so voluntary
Bob Gretz: Friday practice open to the public
Bob Gretz: On the Mike Vrabel absence
Mothership: Friday Q&A with Todd Haley
KC Star: Photos from camp
KC Star: On the Mike Vrabel absence
KC Star: Video of Derrick Johnson after OTAs
Red Zone: Predicting the training camp schedule
Red Zone: On Hali and LJ absence
Bill Williamson: On Mike Vrabel absence
After the jump we've got video of Todd Haley's Friday Q&A along with highlights of the media session.
Another round of OTAs next week:
"Next week we will just go back to regular lifting and running for three days and pick the OTAs up the following week leading into the mandatory mini-camp.”
On the passing game:
“It is going to take some time, there is no doubt. That is what’s good about this time of year and the fact that we have these OTAs. They are getting to know each other and the receivers, tight ends, backs or whoever is running the route is understanding the coverage."
Progress is encouraging:
“Yeah, I think you get into that rhythm and mode. Again, we let them know what we expect and as time goes on, you improve. If it looked worse than on Monday that I would be concerned but that is part of the encouraging bit to me.”
A win is a win
“I think that is an obvious question. If there are a lot of Ls (losses). I don’t really care what it looks like or what the statistics are even though I came from an offensive background that was pretty prolific at times in Arizona. It’s was what we felt gave us the best chance to win. If it doesn’t look pretty, it is not going to matter to me if it’s a W (win). We are going to do what we have to, to give us the best chance to win. If that is three yards and a cloud of dust, we don’t turn the football over and we play great defense, I’ll be the happiest guy sitting here after games.”
Read the entire transcript here.