Before I start, I feel I must say that I don't really want to write this post. This will be about my experiences at training camp, and I will therefore feel uncomfortable writing this. I abhor the "Look at me!" direction that our culture is taking, and try to avoid it at all costs, which means not talking about anything that is outside my area of expertise or that nobody cares about (which means I never say anything, since my expertise is math). So, by telling a personal story, I risk falling into the trap of talking about things that nobody cares about so that I can get attention. However, after giving it some thought, I decided that any other year I'd love to hear stories from training camp, no matter how mundane, so I figure there are enough people out there like me to make this worthwhile. Really, since I didn't talk to any players or coaches, my experience is probably far more boring than dozens of AP members who have posted about talking to players and such. This post, in my mind at least, is for people who live far enough away that they can't go but want top know what it's like, or for people who are thinking about going and want to know what to expect. So, with that off my chest, here's my experience.
I went to camp with my friend from highschool. He doesn't have a job, and I have long periods between when I work, so we often have a lot of freetime during the Summer. We usually play poker with another one of our friends, but this guy has work and a girlfriend who has him completely whipped. We've spent most of the Summer playing Rock BAnd and NFL Street, so we were excited to finally do something exciting. A couple days in advance, we decided to go to the Chiefs' first day of camp. Not knowing what to expect, we planned on eating at Arthur Bryant's at 11:00 and heading to St. Joseph when we were done. The idea was that it'd take about an hour to eat and an hour to St. Joe, so we'd get there a little early to get good seats in case it was crowded. When the day finally came, we realized that 11:00 was too early for lunch for college kids who get up late. We got done with lunch at about 11:30 and decided that earlier was better, so we headed straight there.
After an hour drive, we managed to find the school. I parked in the first lot I found and we walked about 10 minutes to the field. The Missouri Western stadium came first as we walked to the fields, and after a moment of confusion on whether there was going to be any practice there, walked around the field, laughing at the couple of people who were sitting in the stands. We squeezed our way through the crowded team store (which they make you walk through on the way to the fields), we were confronted by the decision on where to sit. Eventually we decided to sit on the end of the fields. There weren't very many people there, it gave us a good view of both fields, and we could easily walk to either side of the fields.
(Here's a map for those who haven't seen it. We walked north across lot H and sat at the northernmost side of the practice fields, in stands that are not pictured.)
For the next hour we were sitting there, pretty bored for the most part. Two cheerleaders walked past, and we talked to the security kids who were supposed to stop people from going on the field. We mainly talked about whether Berry would be there (the reports of him signing had appeared at that point), whether it was going to rain or not and how hard it'd have to rain to keep them indoors, and one of the security kids being a Raiders fan.
Our curiousity about the rain was answered first by some guy over the intercom telling us they'd practice inside if there was lightning. It started to drizzle off and on, and then, about 15 minutes before practice was about to start, it rained and lightninged hard. The voice over the intercom told everybody to go away from the metal bleachers and seek shelter under one of the tents. Unfortunately for us, the tents were on the far side of the field, so we went under one that was covering two kids selling water and Gatorade by the northeast endzone. The heavy rain lasted about half an hour, during which we talked to these kids about school and why we wanted to come and watch them practice (which seemed unbelievable to them, as they were just there to work).
After the storm died down a bit, we went to the side of the field, watching some kids and their dads playing football a bit, but we mostly were watching the indoor facility to see if the players were going to come out. We waited about 45 minutes, and the kids being interviewed by a St. Joe news station was the most exciting thing that happened in that time. Eventually we headed back to our seats to wait them out. We expected them to come out at around 3:00, since Arrowhead Pride, which I was checking on my phone, said they were planning on spending the first half of practice inside. And, sure enough, a couple minutes after three, the team headed down from the indoor facility to the applause of those people who had stayed through the rain.
I found the practice itself to be very interesting. I had been on sports teams before, even a football team in middle school, but I had never seen so much going on so quickly. The horn would blow, Haley would yell something, and the players would go to their spots quickly. Luckily for us there was a reporter standing next to us who helped explain the drills and who the players were.
One drill was the quarterbacks throwing at targets that had little sacks in them so they'd catch the ball if thrown accurately. At one point I was excited because Palko was doing very good and thought we had an excellent third string quarterback. Unfortunately I got confused and it was actually Croyle doing well. Palko was actually doing poorly.
Another drill was practice for the punt team, where the punter would hike the ball and go through the motions of punting, and the line practiced their timing in blocking and then running to get the returner. There wasn't anybody trying to block the punts, so it was kind of boring to watch. It was going on at the same time as the QB drills, so we watched those for the most part.
One of my favorite drills had three lines of people forty or fifty yards away, and a line of people in our endzone. One person from each of the three lines would run forward, and after they were about twenty yards away, a person from the endzone would run, with the ball, and try to avoid being tackled, practicing kick-offs I'd imagine. The best play from this was when McCluster was returning and managed to split two defenders, making them run into each other.
Near the end of practice we went to the edge of the field to watch them run plays against the defense. McCluster was the highlight of this again for me, turning a busted double reverse into a 5-yard run with some fancy moves.
We had so much fun we decided to come back, and we did today (Sunday). We learned our lessons from Friday, and got there about 10 minutes early, and sat at the very top of some bleachers around the twenty. With not even a hint of rain, we got to watch the entire two hours of practice.
In addition to the drills above, we saw the receivers do some work. They practiced various situations, including going past the first down marker and coming back for the ball and running towards the QB while he threw the ball as hard as he could at them.
One of my favorite parts was when the receivers went one-on-one with the DB's. I knew most of the numbers for the receivers and backs, so I got excited for big match-ups like Berry vs. McCluster or Flowers vs. Bowe. The most memorable moment of the entire camp came when Bowe made a spectacular catch while being closely covered by Flowers. After he made the catch, he pretended to shoot McCluster and McCluster pretended to get hit. The crowd chuckled but then, out of nowhere, we heard Haley yell "Dexter, cut that sh*t out!" then yelled at him to go over there. He spent a good minute or so talking to Bowe and McCluster. My friend and I are huge Haley fans, so this was a moment we quoted the whole way home.
Another great drill that we saw was when the quarterbacks would get the ball at the 20, take a few steps back, and try to throw it into a trashcan at the corner of the fields. Nobody made one, but Cassel and Croyle were noticeably closer than Palko, despite Haley offering him $100 if he made one.
At the beginning of practice Bowe was catching passes from a staff member who was aiming at his chest. During this Haley came up and talked to him about something.
Overall, training camp is a good time, and I'm hoping to go back again sometime this year. The fan part of it seems to be designed mostly for kids, and I'd highly recommend bringing your kids at least once if you have any. I'd also recommend an umbrella no whether rain or shine. The first day I got drenched and the second day my skin turned the same color as my Chiefs shirt, so an umbrella is a must for those who don't like to suffer.