If you want to know how a 30-plus running back can defy the odds and still be a productive offensive weapon, then welcome to Thomas Jones and his work ethic. In his short time with the Chiefs, he’s shown his new teammates, the coaches and Kansas City fans what it means to be a dedicated professional. You don’t get biceps like his with a minimum amount of weight on the bar.
“Never,” is what G Brian Waters said when he was asked if he’d ever played with a running back who had bigger biceps than his own. Let’s remember that Waters is a good 100 pounds heavier than Jones.
But when it comes to slinging the iron around, nobody in the Chiefs locker room tops Jones. That’s especially true for the six-week, so-called vacation that the players are working through since the end of the team’s off-season program.
Donovan Templeton rises at 6 a.m., when the pillow is still whispering sweet enticements into the ears of his fellow recent graduates, and he walks 3 miles to get to the Manual Career Tech Center. Kawnn Parrish beats even the janitors and shows up at 7:30 a.m.
For the last month, they have arrived early to go to work with Billy Long. The type of work that makes you question the sanity in not turning off your alarm clock. One-tens, suicides, gassers, plyometrics, hurdle leaping and bench pressing — and that’s in just the first hour.
“This stuff is hard,” acknowledges Parrish, the reigning Interscholastic League Defensive Player of the Year at Northeast High School who will attend Missouri Western this fall on a football scholarship.
“This stuff” is the 10 o’clock morning strength and conditioning session — the first KC districtwide offseason training program, which has former Chiefs assistant coach Long running the show.
Is the great Matt Cassell experiment about to be officially deemed a failure? Not yet. The Chiefs are going to give him one more shot at proving that he was worth all the trouble that they went through to get him. If Cassell fails however, who do the Chiefs have to step in and try to right their ship?
Much like the Buffalo Bills, the Chiefs don’t have any standouts at the quarterback position. Looking at their roster (and the group that they will be taking into training camp with them at the end of this month) we see that they have Brodie Croyle, Ingle Martin, and Tyler Palko. None of these guys are really what anyone would like to see in a starting quarterback although Croyle does have some talent and could step in and start if needed.
If Cassell doesn’t do well this season it’s likely that the Chiefs are going to spend some time (and a high draft pick) trying to nail down the quarterback position. The Chiefs are finally starting to put all the pieces together on both sides of the ball but if they are held back by the quarterback this season then changes will come in 2011 and hopefully they will finally be on the road to making the playoffs.
The Royals and Chiefs didn’t fare all that well. The Royals came in at No. 89, down 47 positions from last year. They got their highest marks for affordability, No. 16, and the magazine clearly approves of the new and improved Kauffman Stadium, as the club’s stadium experience was ranked No. 21. The worst mark the team received was No. 104 for — what else? — ownership, a category measuring “honesty and loyalty to core players and local community.”
The Chiefs landed at No. 95, an improvement of 11 places from last year, but they didn’t crack the top 50 in any category. Their worst score was No. 118 for bang for your buck. Their best mark was No. 52 for stadium experience, and owner Clark Hunt snapped up a respectable No. 61 rating.
But hold your heads high, Kansas Citians. As unspectacularly as our teams stacked up against the rest of America’s sports franchises, there is one reason for pride: The Rams ranked worse. St. Louis’ bumbling football club came in an abysmal 114 out of 122, including a painful No. 121 for bang for your buck, 114 for stadium experience and ownership, and 110 for fan relations. So at least there’s that.