Thanks to a timely tweet by Chiefs first round draft pick, Eric Berry, I was reminded that KC’s rookies will be arriving at Arrowhead today and will start Rookie Mini Camp tomorrow. This is a time for the coaches to get a look at their new guys, on their own terms. It is also an opportunity for the coaching staff to mine their undrafted free agents for a potential diamond in the rough.
What can we expect from Mini Camp? I took a look at some reports from last year’s camp to get an idea of what the new meat can expect when they hit the field tomorrow.
Day 1 will serve as sort of a mini combine. The players will get measured, weighed and put through the paces. They’ll do some bench presses, vertical jumps, raw jumps and 40-yard dashes.
Haley and company will also likely test the rookies by throwing a lot of information at them and watching how well they respond. Last year, after day 1, Haley was quoted as saying that the rookie’s heads were “spinning.”
It makes sense that the Chiefs want see how quickly the rookies can pick things up and get to work. Day 1 is important for the new guys as day 2 is structured sort of like a training camp practice.
More on day 2 after the jump.
Last year, Day 2 saw the 33 or 34 rookies attending, come out in actual formations. In an interview after the practice, Haley mentioned that conditioning was a problem with many of the rookies. He noted that the Chiefs only had 3 receivers at the camp and they were not in condition to hand all the routes. Hopefully this year’s crew will be in better shape.
Another interesting nugget I found while doing research was that last year, the Chiefs mentioned that they thought 3rd round pick Alex Magee could play both defensive end and defensive tackle. I’ll have more on Magee later today.
Here is how the Chiefs lined up last year on defense:
Tyson Jackson (LDE), Derek Lokey (NT), Alex Magee (RDE); Darrell Robertson and Pierre Walters (OLB); Jovan Belcher and Corey Smith (ILB); Donald Washington and Londen Fryan (CB); Ricky Price and an unknown player (S).
This list goes to show that we need to pay attention to some of these no name guys who will be at camp. I had never heard of Pierre Walters or Jovan Belcher before camp last year and both made the team. Walters did a nice job as a special teamer for KC and Belcher was one of the year’s biggest surprises. He saw more and more playing time at MLB as the season progressed and he went on to make the game saving tackle in the Steelers game.
Day 3 will see more drills. Last year, it seemed the Chiefs coaching staff really wanted to prepare the rookies for the pace and intensity that will be expected from them in team practices. From Bob Gretz last year in a practice report:
Just because it was the last practice of rookie mini-camp that didn’t mean the intensity level was turned down by Haley and his coaching staff. They were very vocal throughout the workout. It’s a never ending drumbeat of calling for players, units and drills to be faster and quicker. If the pace was slowed by Haley and his staff, as he said, then the returning veteran players are in for quite a shock when it comes to OTA’s that begin on May 18th.
The transition into regular team workouts should be easier this year for Haley and company. Last year, they tried to get the rookies to understand what was expected of them but since the regime was new, NO ONE knew what was expected of them. We saw the results of this when many of the veteran players, who were used to “Club Herm,” showed up out of shape. This year will be different as most of the roster was around last season.
The groundwork was laid last year. The Chiefs have no excuses. They need to hit the ground running because though a lot of work has been done, the hard part of turning around a 4-12 team, still remains.
The best we can hope for out of mini camp as that the coaching staff accomplishes what it wants to accomplish without anyone getting injured. We’ll have daily recaps for you here throughout the weekend.