Chiefs Training Camp Weekend #1

John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

From the FanPosts -Joel

All righty, since Chris seems to have broken the comments this Tuesday afternoon, might as well do this post I've been putting off. (edit: After the glitches got ironed out, the new comment functionality is pretty cool).

This weekend, I made the pleasant five minute drive from my house to training camp (hee hee) to see what our new team is all about. I've been meaning to post some notes since then. I could pretend that I put this off in order to coincide with no-practice Wednesday... But yeah, I'm just lazy.

My attention span and memory aren't good enough for me to write this in chronological order, and no way was I going to take notes while I enjoyed a relaxing morning at TC. So I think I'll just start at the top of the roster and see where my memory takes me from there. Probably save a few drafts, give me time to remember more details, and post Tuesday night or Wednesday morning.

But first of all, let me just say about Saturday, my first look at the 2013 Chiefs - what an absolutely gorgeous morning. Sixty degrees as I walk out the door. Caribbean blue sky. Exactly seven pure white clouds. Warm sun on my face, cool breeze at my back. I want to have this morning's baby. If this morning is any kind of omen for this season, then we are in for some beautiful times.

Usually I like to walk the perimeter at TC, get some close-up views of the action. But this weekend, I decide to go to the top of the bleachers to get an overview. See what an Andy Reid camp is all about, before I pick the best spots to stand on the field. Unfortunately, this puts me on the opposite side from where the offense is working. I get some good views of the D, and of the 11 vs 11 on Sunday, but I don't get to see much of the QBs or new offensive plays. Sorry about that, O fans. Hopefully next weekend.

Ok, first up on the roster - Abdullah, Husain. Didn't see him do much. But I did see Demps do quite a bit. By now, we've heard how Demps is showing up in camp. I can confirm that. Even for a casual observer like me, even before I'd heard he was somebody to watch for, he stood out on multiple plays. The first time I noticed him was just due to my surprise that he was running with the second team, and as the first safety off the bench in nickel/dime packages. I guess I didn't expect that because all I'd heard about was his skill as a returner, not as a defender. But he didn't look out of place at all, and in fact made several good plays. The one that stands out was when he baited a QB (can't remember which) into throwing a short slant, then jumped it and got a clean INT. He also looked like a good, strong tackler.

Speaking of DBs, the Chiefs did a drill where a QB would throw to a spot, and a DB or LB would try to make a play on the ball. No receivers, just an INT drill for the defenders. Seems like it could be pretty darn useful, and I don't remember seeing it in years past. Anyway, I learned some things about three players in this drill. One was Tamba. Tamba can catch! Who knew?! He dropped the ball the first time he was up, but I don't remember him dropping any others for the whole drill. And there were some moderately difficult catches for him in there, even a couple where he was running with a "receiver" (actually another LB) down the sideline and had to look back and make the catch with his hands reversed. I would kill something to see Tamba make an interception in a live game. And return it. Over Peyton's ass.

The second player who stood out to me in this drill was Berry. Unfortunately, not for good reasons. The man can't track a ball in the air. He can catch a ball that's coming toward him, but if he has to run downfield and track a ball at the same time - no sir. He got a hand on every pass that came his way, just because he's insanely fast and athletic and can put himself pretty much anywhere he wants to be. But he needed that athleticism, because he was just plain bad at estimating where a ball would come down. So, he ended up knocking down a lot of balls, and doing some amazing athletic contortions in the process, but actually catching very few. I guess that's why he's a DB and not a WR, as the cliche goes.

And that brings me to Kendrick Lewis. HE, unlike Berry, actually did look like a receiver. For over half the drill, I thought the QBs were just throwing him softballs, because every single catch he made looked so boringly easy. But then I kind of did a back-and-forth double-take between him and Berry, and I realized that Lewis is just very good at the exact thing Berry is not - tracking a pass and getting in the right position to catch it. I guess this is why he has that ball-hawk reputation. If he had more speed, I have little doubt that he would be a WR or a CB instead of a safety. So, looks like we have the right guys playing FS and SS according to their skills. I just hope they can both stay healthy.

And, please keep in mind when reading this that I have traditionally been a big fan of Berry's, and not so much a fan of Lewis'. Just check my avatar for proof of at least half that.

Oh, and one more guy that stood out in that drill - Dunta Robinson. For a bad reason. To put it bluntly, he looked lazy. Extremely, conspicuously lazy. Flowers was talking to him during the drill, but I couldn't hear exactly what was said. Looked like encouragement. Don't know if Robinson's bummin over losing the #2 spot to Smith, or if it's just because he's a vet who's done this stuff a million times already. But he looked more than lazy enough to make me suspicious about his many trips to the sick tent this offseason.

I didn't pay much attention to much of the rest of that drill, because the big eaters were going at it on the other half of the near field. The thing that stood out to me the most about the pass rush drills was the marquee matchup - Fisher vs Houston. And the result was.... welcome to the NFL, rook. Heh heh. Houston just ran clean by him on the first rep. Second rep, Houston got both hands square on Fisher's jejunum and just shoved him directly into the pocket, to the sound of oohs and ahs from the other defenders. The coach had them line up for a third time, which the other rusher/blocker pairs were not doing, I guess to give Fisher some more valuable experience. Coach gave Fisher some instructions. Albert came up and gave Fisher an encouraging smack on the rump. And then Houston made Fisher his bitch. Heh. He used some Master Kim hand-work this time, which actually made the first two times look even worse, because it became apparent that Houston hadn't really been using any pass rush moves, just straight speed and power, until that third rep. I'm sure Fisher went to bed sad that night. I'm not worried about him, though. It WAS Justin Houston he was facing, and just the first weekend of camp. Fisher has ability, and plenty of time to learn to use it.

Let's see, what else from the pass rush drills...

Stephenson looked damned good, dominating at times, but I didn't notice him going against Tamba or Houston. He was at left tackle the times that I saw him.

Hudson is attitudinous, nasty. And he looked decent in the drills. If Hudson does well on the field, then he could be the bad-attitude, no-excuses team leader this Oline has needed for a while.

Zombo was a surprise. He seems to have a very respectable array of pass rush moves. And he shows some power, which surprised me because I thought he was on the smaller side for a 3-4 OLB.

Toribio has a nice rip move. Who knew?

And Miguel Chavis has a nice arm-over move. Actually, Chavis looked really good. Good power, some good moves, good awareness, and good effort. He and Demps and Zombo were my biggest surprises of the weekend. I wish I'd written this earlier for that reason, because I saw and/or heard some good press on Chavis just today (Tuesday). So, my laziness got me scooped. But it's good to know that others have seen what I saw.

Catapano is indeed practicing with the linemen, not with the linebackers. I personally don't like that, because that along with the Austen Lane signing says to me that the defense might be trending smaller. I prefer the 3-4 to a 4-3. But hey, if it works, then I'm all for it. And Catapano did not look completely out of place with the Dline. The guy looks seriously strong, and he had the quickness advantage over most Olinemen. The drawback is that if he takes one wrong step, then he's not going to recover because his relatively light weight allows Olinemen to run him out. But if he keeps his feet in the right places, he's strong enough to go head-to-head with the big guys.

Austen Lane - I like this guy. He was working as hard as anybody, going at the blocking dummies before and after practice. And he looks decent, not great but decent, as an outside pass rusher. He was running as the #2 LDE. I hope he sticks.

DeVito was another guy who was doing individual work before practice. Hitting the tackle dummies. I think he likes to hit dummies. He's also a pretty decent player - he straight up canned Asamoah during the pass rush drill, just exploded out of his stance and knocked Asamoah right on his contract-year ass. Unfortunately, I didn't see much more of DeVito during the pass rush drills. Maybe they were afraid he'd break somebody.

DeVito did take some reps at NT, with Poe at RDE. But not the majority of the time. I saw it maybe 30% of the reps on Sunday, and only on one specific drill on Saturday. So maybe they're ramping up to it. It'll be interesting to see how many times they do that next weekend.

The defense did another drill I liked, where the entire defense lined up against air and executed a defensive play that a coach would call on a quick-count. Then they'd immediately run ten yards downfield, line up and do it again. Looked to me like an excellent way to prepare for a no-huddle offense.

The formations I saw in that no-huddle defense drill were mostly basic, vanilla base. But the second team did run one very interesting defense that looked mostly base, but had Catapano, who had been practicing as a lineman, stand up just outside and behind the RDE's hip. Not in a traditional OLB rush position, but a couple steps back from the LoS. Some kind of 46 look maybe? I know it wasn't just Catapano being out of position, because they ran the same thing repeatedly.

And speaking of defensive formations, I saw this:



The horizontal positioning might not be totally accurate, but the vertical alignment of those front eight is. So, yes, Berry and DJ were lined up about two steps from the LoS, much closer than a traditional ILB position, just behind Houston and Poe respectively. Tamba was standing up in a sort of wide-nine spot way out to the right. And all three CBs were pressing. Then there was nothing in the middle, and then the three deep safeties, except for when a safety would creep up pre-snap. Houston was right on the LoS, near the middle of the line, and standing up. Poe was the only one with a hand in the dirt. They lined up against pylons for Olinemen, and coaches/DBs for WRs. They practiced blitzing out of this formation. The CBs would blitz often. The deep safeties would blitz sometimes, particularly Demps. Once, I saw Houston lead-blocking for Berry into the A gap. And once I saw Tamba help Smith cover a WR downfield on what looked like a shallow post route. What does it all mean? I don't know, but I freakin like it.

The basic starting line-up on D was what we've been hearing, with Jordan at SILB. I did notice that he and DJ would swap positions fairly often, though.

Nico Johnson looked pretty good in 11 on 11. He did some pass rushing, and he showed enough speed and aggressiveness to surprise me after what I'd seen of his senior tape. His most crowd-pleasing play was a hard, classic MLB thump on Knile Davis right in the A gap that put Davis flat on his back. Hopefully Saban wasn't just blowing smoke when he said Nico has skills that weren't called upon at Alabama.

Speaking of Knile Davis... He hasn't fumbled that I've seen. He seems pretty decent as a receiver out of the backfield. He can hit a designated hole fast and hard. If he's one on one with a defender, and he has time to gear up, then he can dispose of said defender with either speed or power or both. He looks like he could be a fantastic homerun hitter against a defense that is expecting pass instead of run. Now the bad part - he just doesn't look like a runner to me. He looks like a sprinter. He looks like Ben Johnson (the roided up Olympic sprinter, anybody old enough to remember him?) in pads. He's stupendous when he knows exactly what to do and where to run, less than ordinary when the hole isn't there and he has to improvise. You can just see the difference between him and Gray or Charles when they're negotiating trash around the LoS, and the bad part is that it's not a physical difference. When Charles and Gray stutter-step, it's because that's the best way to get where they want to go. When Davis stutter-steps, it looks like it's because he doesn't KNOW where to go. I just don't think he has a true runner's instincts. Also, it looks like they might have given up on making a kick returner out of him, as I didn't see him take any reps there. Of course, this is all just my opinion. The guy has the physicality to be the next Jim Brown, hopefully he turns out that way.

And speaking of the running game... Oh man, you guys are going to LOVE this. NigerianNightmare, hold on to your shorts - On Sunday, I saw a whole drill dedicated to running plays with a fullback as lead blocker. You read that right, Chiefs fans. OUR OFFENSE PRACTICED USING A FULLBACK AS A LEAD BLOCKER. A real fullback, not a TE in motion or an H-back O'Connell a TE who can't catch. And, get this, most of those plays involved Jamaal Charles as the ball carrier! It was enough to make me cry tears of joy.

One of the first team drills I saw on the first day of pads had the offense line up against the defense and practice running plays all the way down the field, and I believe that ALL of those running plays were traditional two-back sets with a lead blocker. Just wanted to say that again in a new paragraph because it made me so happy. And the best thing is, the offense actually looked competent doing it. Charles looked comfortable and decisive behind a fullback, following the block when there was room and jumping to the next hole (actually more like teleporting to the next hole, since it's Charles we're talking about) when the fullback got stuffed. And it was the very FIRST team drill they ran! God I hope we see this in the regular season.

OK, more offense... Receivers. Wylie surprised me. I noted this in a comment on one of the threads. I was happily surprised that Wylie got as many reps as he did in place of Bowe on Saturday. And I was even happier that Wylie still got a bunch of reps on Sunday when Bowe came back. He was making good use of the time, too. He definitely looks best in the short-mid range. He did make one catch behind Sean Smith down the sideline, but that looked pretty lucky to me. I don't think it's his forte. I preferred the time he caught an off-target pass that was intended for a TE near the sideline about ten yards downfield. It probably would have been an interception, but Wylie did a leaping 180 and reached way behind himself to snatch it, let out a really authentic samurai yell, then skittered off toward the middle of the field while a crowd of shell-shocked defenders vaguely grabbed at his shirt tail. He made a few other plays, too, mixed in with a couple of drops. I wasn't optimistic about his chances judging by the news, or lack thereof, from OTAs. But it looked to me like he's making himself noticed in TC. I hope he sticks, because I think he has all the physical ability to be a real game breaker.

And then there's Avery. He had a bad Sunday. Dropped at least three not-too-difficult passes that I recall, and didn't really make plays elsewhere. Now, I've heard much better news about him from the last couple of days, so hopefully I just saw him on an off-day.

And that reminds me about Jalil Brown. Jalil Brown stayed step-for-step with Avery the Speedster all the way down the sideline, several times. That's right, not just once or twice, but several times. He blanketed Avery away from the reception all of those times. So, hopefully that says good things about Brown more than it says bad things about Avery.

Sean Smith reminds me of a wall. A giant, eclipse-causing, inconsistent wall. Unfortunately, I had to throw that "inconsistent" word in there. On sideline patterns, he looked completely unbeatable on Saturday. He was good about keeping the receiver between himself and the sideline, and when that happened, then the receiver couldn't really even SEE the pass much less catch it. However, when the pads came on on Sunday, Smith let a few balls get by him. I don't know if he was performing worse, or if maybe our QBs learned how to throw past him. I do remember that Dolphins fans used that "inconsistent" word with him, and I think I might have seen why. Hopefully we get more good Sean than bad Sean. In any case, I think I saw how our coaches plan to use him, because I saw him targeted on a lot of downfield sideline throws.

Bowe. I didn't see much of him Sunday, he wasn't targeted on very many plays even though he was fully practicing. I saw Alex Smith miss him on a couple of outside routes, looked like a timing/familiarity issue. I fully expect these two to get it together, but I also fully expect Alex to utilize TEs and backs and short routes very often, which may make it appear to us that Bowe is being under-utilized after what we've been used to seeing the past few years.

Moeaki was making some very good looking receptions, and some pretty athletic attempts at balls that were just out of reach. Hope he can stay healthy this year.

Kelce already looks like he'll be a mis-match in the middle of the field. He can reach for and catch some tall passes.

Haven't seen much of Fasano. Kind of like Bowe, I get the impression that they're not targeting him much because they are taking a look at other guys instead. There was one interesting moment with him. The QBs were throwing into a target net, accuracy drill. Fasano got drafted away from the offensive drills to help out. Our QBs looked pretty good at this drill, which I was happy to see after the past few years. At the end of the drill, some coaching assistants were wheeling the net away, and Fasano turned and spiraled a leftover ball right into the highest target on the net. While the net was moving, and from an oblique angle. The crowd oooh'd. Hmmm, emergency QB...?

The QBs, like I said, I didn't get to see much of. Alex Smith looked accurate and reliable. Daniel the same, but slightly less so. Stanzi, much like his hair, looked unreliable. Bray looked like hope for the future. And he smelled like teen spirit.

In general, the QBs and the passing game looked great on Saturday, and then struggled on Sunday. Specifically, the receivers struggled getting open. Seemed that putting the pads on made the coverage stickier. Actually, since a lot of that happened on the opposite field, I couldn't see precisely what the problems were with the passing game on Sunday. But it was obvious that the QBs were having a tough time finding open guys to throw to. So I choose to take that as a sign that our DBs are capable of effective press coverage this year. Yay! And our QBs are going to have to get used to throwing into tight coverage.

It did look like the QBs were ignoring some open, deep receivers in 11 vs 11 in favor of shorter passes. Well... I actually noticed this specifically with Smith. I hesitate to say that because I know it will be dismissed as bias after the, um, lack of enthusiasm that I showed for the Smith trade. But in fairness, I wasn't looking for it as much with the other QBs. I hope that this was a purposeful thing for practice.

I did see Smith make quite a few attempts down the sidelines during 7 on 7 and the WR vs DB drills, and he looked pretty good doing it. There were more incompletions than completions, but those are low percentage passes and it is early in training camp with unfamiliar receivers. There were a few very accurate long passes, and I didn't see any that looked egregiously off target.

Daniel, like I said, looked like he has pretty much all the same capabilities as Smith, but to a slightly lesser degree. He does seem to tend to take more chances. So, he seems to fit the mold as a #2 QB. One good play that stood out for Daniel happened when he got flushed from the pocket. He calmly rolled out, and competently completed a short pass to a receiver while on the run. That was actually a spectacular play for me because of those two adverbs, "calmly" and "competently." Our QBs the last few years have been anything but calm and competent when facing pressure. Daniel, on the other hand, I never saw his helmet even twitch toward the pressure. The left side of the line got over-ran, Daniel scrambled to the right while keeping his eyes and shoulders constantly and squarely downfield, and looped a short completion to an open receiver, who was tackled for about a seven yard gain. Out godamn standing.

Colquitt. I almost forgot about him. Got to see him doing some casual practice right in front of the bleachers. He stood about the 30-35 yard line and punted a perfect left-foot spiral to the opposing one yard line, where it bounced four yards to the left, parallel to the goal line, and then died. Golf claps all around. And then Dustin did precisely the same thing again. Four times. In a row. FFFFFREAK.

Special teams in general seemed to get a pretty good portion of training time. Besides the usual stuff I've seen in years past, Toub ran a drill where one gunner and one blocker would go head to head. There were about four or five lines going simultaneously, so he got to put a lot of guys through this drill even though it was one on one. Seemed like a useful drill, and it was pretty entertaining, but hard to keep watch on all the match-ups. I heard Hemingway's name called a lot, but didn't manage to watch any of his reps. Copper was his usual ST Superman self. Wylie looked decent as a gunner, but got trucked as a blocker. Demps looked pretty effective at both. Actually, Demps looked like he was pissing other players off. To that I say - heh. MOAR competition! If you're not pissing your opponent off, then you're doing it wrong.

Well, I'm pretty sure there's some good stuff I forgot to write down, but I'm coming up on 4000 words, so I think I'll cut off pretty soon. I'll take a last look in the morning, see if anything else comes to mind, then hit post. Hopefully it'll give you guys something of interest on no-practice Wednesday.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Arrowhead Pride's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Arrowhead Pride writers or editors.

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