Chiefs OTA Observations 5/28: Day Three Notes from The Mothership
If there is one word that could describe the Kansas City Chiefs' third OTA practice of the year that took place on Thursday at the University of Kansas Hospital Training Complex, it's "competition."
These guys were getting after it, and they were letting everyone within an earshot of the practice field know who won each rep. Whether it was one of five interceptions on the day by the defense, or one of the several great plays down the field by the offense, they were competing out there on Thursday.
"They're going back and forth which is good," Chiefs coach Andy Reid said after practice. "You need the turnovers on the defensive side. You obviously don't want them on the offensive side, but we're getting good work in there where both sides are being effective.
"I like it. The guys have been challenging each other, which is beautiful. The offense makes a few plays, the defense makes a few plays and that's how you like it."
What We Learned from the Day Three OTA Press Conference from The Mothership
Reid has liked seeing the turnovers on the defensive side of the ball.
"They're going back and forth which is good," he said. "You need the turnovers on the defensive side. You obviously don't want them on the offensive side, but we're getting good work in there where both sides are being effective. I like it. I like the way they're challenging each other within the rules of you can't tackle and you can't play bump, so they're doing a good job."
Reid's happy linebacker
Dee Fordis getting a great chance to learn in OTAs.
"Dee had to learn that position as far as the drop game goes," he said. "That's why this is great for him here. It's all these reps—opportunity to learn the pass game part of it."
"I think he's the best right guard to ever play in the National Football League and I'll argue anybody that wants to argue me about that. He was a phenomenal football talent, but he's as good a person and continues to be that."
Holthus played host Wednesday night to "An Evening With Will Shields" at the Gridiron Glory exhibit in Union Station. The event featured a question-and-answer session including Shields, Chiefs Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt, Hall of Famers Bobby Bell and Jan Stenerud, Trent Green and Casey Wiegmann.
"I think tonight is a great celebration," Shields said of the evening, after arriving with his family. "I think the simple fact of it is you get a couple of Hall of Famers who get a chance to come out and be a part of the community that has expressed so much love and joy for what you've done as a football player. It's just amazing."
The list of accomplishments for Shields on the field is long and distinguished:
- Played more games in a Chiefs uniform than any other player in franchise history (224)
- Started 223 consecutive games, which is a franchise record
- Made 12 consecutive Pro Bowls between 1995-2006
- Named to the NFL's All-Decade team of the 2000s
- Won the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award in 2003
But one of the most recognizable aspects of Shields' career is that he spent his entire 14-year career with the Chiefs.
He'll be the first Chiefs offensive player to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame that spent his entire career in Kansas City.
Chiefs OL Ben Grubbs Leaning on Teammates for Help from The Mothership
"It's been a learning process," Grubbs explained of understanding a new playbook. "Of course, the plays are different with different terminology, but this is what this part of the offseason is about.
"It's to get the rust off, get acclimated to your teammates and just go out there and see what we all have. It's been good so far."
Grubbs said he's been leaning on his teammates for help with this transition.
"They're helping me through it," Grubbs said. "(Eric) Kush is very knowledgeable. He has a good foundation of the playbook. He has been helping me out, him and Fish (Eric Fisher), they have been doing a great job.
"I don't want to be a burden too much, but there are some things that I haven't quite gotten the grasp of, but they've been doing a really good job of bringing me along with them."
Chiefs Flag Warrior Auditions Will Take Place on June 12 from The Mothership
For requirements, the Chiefs are looking for males that are 18 years or older and are diehard Chiefs fans.
Candidates must be athletic enough to handle running 160 to 200 yards in just a few minutes time in any weather condition. They are also expected to wave a 12' x 6' flag and must be available for every Chiefs home game for the 2015 season.
Chiefs' Donald Stephenson rotates from right tackle to left tackle from Chiefs Digest
But the switching of personnel shouldn't come as a big surprise when considering coach Andy Reid mentioned on the first day of OTAs the team would rotate players along the offensive line.
And Reid reinforced that point after Thursday's practice.
"That's the only way you can get Donald some reps there," Reid said. "We want to make sure we've got everybody covered."
The Chiefs must also identify a swing tackle in addition to settling on a starting five on the offensive line before the start of the regular season.
Eric Fisher works with backups; Reid cautions not to make too much of it from The Mothership
The Chiefs have shuffled personnel along their starting offensive line since beginning practice this week. Only left guard Ben Grubbs and center Eric Kush have been constants at their positions in the three days of practice.
Fisher hasn't played up to his lofty draft status. He has been disappointing in his two seasons with the Chiefs, one as a starter at right tackle and the other as the starter on the left.
Biggest winner from Justin Houston's spring Chiefs absence? Dee Ford, baby from FS Kansas City
He needs snaps. He needs reps. Kansas City's second-year outside linebacker needs things running at 200 miles an hour in front of him. He needs to make mistakes on the fly, so he can unlearn the dumb and the bad and build up the good. In pilot terms, he needs flight time. And better to do it in the spring, with no pads and no stakes, then to have to figure things out in the pressure cooker of autumn, where one horribly wrong read can go insanely viral:
No Houston this month at Organized Team Activities and mini-camp is a win for two people, primarily: Houston, whose management team seeks leverage as they work to negotiate a long-term contract; and Ford, who gets a chunk of those first-team reps afforded by big No. 50's absence.
Chiefs DBs swarm to football throughout third OTA practice from Chiefs Digest
Cornerback Sean Smith paced the defense with two of the five interceptions observed against quarterbacks Alex Smith, Chase Daniel and Aaron Murray during 11-on-11 and 7-on-7 drills. Safeties Kelcie McCray and Daniel Sorensen, and cornerback Deji Olatoye each recorded an interception.
Defensive backs also made plays getting their hands on the ball to break-up passes.
"We had a couple of tipped balls and they took advantage of it," coach Andy Reid said. "They've been doing a good job of that, and then they're going back and forth, which is good. You need the turnovers on the defensive side - you obviously don't want them on the offensive side - we're getting good work in there."
For all of the attention focused on the fact that Chiefs wide receivers failed to score a touchdown last season, a bigger problem was that the Chiefs completed few long pass plays. That was the deficiency that prevented them from making the playoffs.
Kacsmar suggests it's the unwillingness and inability of Smith to go down the field with the ball that will continue to hold the Chiefs back. He points out that Smith was 4-of-21 with three interceptions last season when throwing more than 20 yards past the line of scrimmage.
But Smith didn't have a deep threat the caliber of Jeremy Maclin to throw to last season.
But those additional 13 yards can seem at times like a long distance to Kansas City Chiefs kicker Cairo Santos, who this week explained the difference.
"I think [with] the 20-yarder you can get away with miss-hits," Santos said. "They'll still go in. But [from] 33, it starts to get in that awkward range where a miss-hit might not go in."