It was my inaugural event. Having lived in Kansas City for 21 years and never going to a Chiefs training camp before is akin to living in Hershey, Pennsylvania your whole life and… well, you know.
Saturday has been an idyllic weather day. A day made in football heaven. When I arrived in the early morning practice had already begun. There are two full size football fields at Missouri Western that run side-by-side but the Chiefs were only using one field at that point. The offense was lining up at the five yard line and trying not to get pushed back in for a safety. The series of plays being run were mostly pass plays once again. It was 7 on 7 at that time and each QB was taking a set of snaps then they would switch with a completely different unit, QB and all.
I was impressed with Alex Smith’s accuracy and equally unimpressed with Chase Daniel early tosses. Daniel got better as the day went along but he started out delivering the ball behind receivers or high but mostly just not where they could easily catch it.
As the action moved to the middle of the field and then back to the 5 yard line all over again I began to see how starting there could give the players a sense of urgency. Like, “we’ve got to get out of here.” That wouldn’t be true if all drives were started at mid-field. So, it was also comforting to see the whole field and all situations being practiced.
The plays were varied. A pass in the right flat to McCluster then a pass in the flat to the opposite side to a fullback like Toben Opurum. Next it was a pass over the middle to TE Demetrius Harris who I thought looked like he made several sharp plays during the day.
Everyone was utilized in the offensive play calling and the atmosphere was game day speed.
An observation: the picture above may not show the dramatic size of Justin Houston. He is the definition of a “man’s man.”
I had circled the practice fields in search of better view and camera angles at the opposite side of the bleachers when Dwayne Bowe appears with rookie Safety Bronson Malcom and a trainer and the three of them began to do half speed wind sprints across the back of the end zone on the adjacent field. Bowe started out with what looked like a fluffy white 1970s pimp hat. After one or two runs across the field he threw that down but the pace never got faster. It was obvious he was taking a measured pace.
After an hour of stopping and stretching mixed with some more half speed runs Bowe picked up his belongings and headed towards those practicing full speed. He was asked, “How do you feel Dwayne?” Bowe held his hand up to his chest and made a circular motion and said, “It’s a chest thing.”
I couldn’t tell if he was just getting over a cold or if he’d taken a shot (tackle) to the torso or if he was just about to have a heart attack.
Today (Saturday) was the day set aside for the quarterbacks to sign autographs. So, yours truly, having just purchased a new Chiefs cap decided to see if the football Gods were with me on this day. There were probably close to 60 or 70 fans crowded along the fence area as Alex made his way this way then that way signing whatever fans held out there for him to sign. There were helmets big and tiny, there were t-shirts while they were being worn but there were probably more caps being held up than anything. I started out about 7 rows back and to my luck Smith began signing the items that people who were in front of me had asked him to sign so as they left, there became a space in front of me to fill.
Just as I made my way all the way up to the fence, Smith turned to sign something away from me and I thought it was all over. Then someone yelled to him from behind me something about where he was at before Utah… and he smiled wryly, turning back my way and said, “High School.” I knew that was my opening because I’d read he played his high school football in California so I said, “California, right?” He said, “Yes, the San Diego area,” as he grabbed my cap and signed it and handed it back to me. I said thank you and headed straight for the Chiefs Gift Store to check out the cost of an Alex Smith jersey.
One aside for me… I now live in Dallas and drove all the way up just to see a Chiefs practice and I must say it was well worth the $5 price for parking. However, I have to admit I decided against the #11 Alex Smith jersey at $134.99.
Please forgive me.
If you have any favorite training camp moments you’d like to share… go for it, and go Chiefs!