Chiefs First Day Impressions: Mostly Impressed!


I arrived in Kansas City two days before training camp and the buzz in the air… at least on the airwaves… was all Kansas City Chiefs. Well, I must admit the Royals bringing in Johnny Cueto and Ben Zobrist got it’s fair share of air time but everywhere you go in K.C. it’s all about the Chiefs, Chiefs, Chiefs.

Driving up to St. Joe, the closer I get, the line of cars in front of me confirms everything I’ve been hearing for days, fans are freaking excited about the start of the 2015 season and nobody… and I mean nobody… in these here parts can wait. Once I park and begin the trek into the practice area it’s difficult to imagine having to wait behind the thousands of fans that have obviously already arrived ahead of me.

As I entered the gates a man approached and asked, “Where’d you get the ArrowheadAddict t-shirt?” I replied, “I ordered it from ArrowheadAddict.” and added, “I write for them” and he said, “Hi, I’m Matt Verderame.” Matt and I have spoken on the phone before and shared many emails but never met in person. So, we shook hands and chatted.

I knew there would be no pads for the first practice of the year but I’m always disappointed when the pads are off. However, as in years past head coach Andy Reid has the practice flowing at a game pace with horns marking the ends of quarters.

To the naked eye, a Chiefs practice look like a lot of standing around. That’s because the first team defense and offense spend most of the time on the field and most everyone except those top 22 players are standing waiting their turn.

One note: if you’re sitting in the gallery area, to the far left hand side of the two practice fields are a couple of tents with the sides removed so anyone in those tents can see the players practicing on the fields. Who goes into those tents? Any injured player who is trying to work their way back onto the field. I’ve always thought it wise… to have those players riding bikes… working the ropes… being put through paces by the strength and conditioning coaches while also having to watch a practice that they wish they were a part of.

The first team offense took the lion’s share of snaps on day one. Most plays appeared to be pass plays and that is purposeful: it’s hard to practice running plays without the pads on.

One of the first plays of the day was a pass from Alex Smith on a deep out route by Jeremy Maclin who turned up field and found the ball nestled cleanly into his bread basket… without losing stride. A thing of beauty, which garnered cheers from the masses. A number of these long balls found receivers on day one, so many so as to give the impression that coach Reid was sending a message… we will go long in ‘15.

What’s great to know is that most of those long balls found their mark and were closer to looking like lasers than bloop singles. Alex Smith had good zip on his balls, the best that I’ve seen since he’s been here. The trajectory of his passes has improved and it is visible. Look for it if you get the chance to attend camp.

Perhaps Alex Smith has better zip on his passes because he’s been lifting weights this off season. To look at him in the after practice press conference you could tell he’d been lifting. The new pectorals were obvious. <–  Take a peek for yourself.

I have to add, that while watching Smith answer questions about throwing passes to Jeremy Maclin… he smiled so big he looked like the cat who swallowed the canary (or he looked like someone who’d bet his whole life savings on the Women’s World Cup soccer team and was just informed that they won). Very uncharacteristic. But I love that kind of confidence.

The horn sounded and players switched to the field away from where I was seated and since kicker Cairo Santos was coming over to kick in front of me, I decided to stay put.

While I was “impressed” by a list of so many players I watched on day one, Cairo Santos and his snapper Andrew East were not on that list. I could tell that Santos has been lifting weights this off season so maybe that was a contributing factor for him missing on a high percentage of his

kicks. He kicked 40 plus kicks right in front of me, all from 40 yards or more (lining up at the 35) and he missed the first one, and donked the third one off the left upright. Special Team’s coach extraordinaire Dave Toub was standing behind Santos for all of his kicks and appeared to be unimpressed often looking down following a miss.

Obviously the team will have “one” new long snapper by the time the season begins but they’re going to have to settle on one guy long before that so they can tell if the problem is the snap process or the kicker himself. Last year I predicted the Chiefs would let Ryan Succop go because Santos motion was virtually the same on every kick. Well, I didn’t the see that today. The difference? The snappers.

Just seeing players lined up and ready to go in was enough to excite on this day. NT Hebron Fangupo, who is projected to do some work as a Dontari Poe fill in until his return spent most of the day on the sidelines.

Marcus Peters spent time on the sidelines as well but when he went in he played everyone tight and his athleticism was evident. He looks like he’s going to be a great first round pick!

I saw TE Richard Gordon make a good diving grab over the middle. Many of the pass plays seemed to be in the flat, down and out patterns or deep balls. I’m sure there were drops but I only saw one on a deep ball just past Maclin’s outreached hands. Even that pass made me happy because a pass that’s beyond what Maclin can reach is right where you want to miss on a pass… not short.

Travis Kelce won’t allow you to forget he is going to be a presence this year and made several nice grabs on day one!

I watched Ron Parker step in front of an Aaron Murray pass along the right sideline for an interception which he quickly turned up field for what would have conceivably been a quick pick six. The aesthetics were not lost on me… his dreads waving in the wind as he crossed a fictitious goal line unscathed. Too cool for summer school!

Of course, just seeing Eric Berry standing on the sidelines was inspirational.

“Fear nothing, attack everything.” When Berry said that at his press conference with his parents sitting there, I thought right then, someone should make that into a t-shirt!

As I was leaving I checked in with the gate attendants and asked if they had the exact numbers of those in attendance and although they said they didn’t, when I asked if they thought it was 4 to 5 thousand they said, “At least!”

Go Chiefs!