Camp Notebook: Berry, Charles and Moeaki to play on Friday

Posted Aug 6, 2012

Chiefs Training Camp Notebook Presented by Heartland Health

St. Joseph, Mo. – When the zigzagging footwork drill is over,  Eric Berry heads to the next station with something extra – a final exclamation point to remind his coach that he’s healthy and game-ready.

Berry explodes out of his final backpedal with a tuck-and-roll somersault, and as he flips back to his feet, he turns his tumble into a dead sprint of the field. And as he whizzes by Romeo Crennel, he exhibits the kind of world class athleticism he did as a rookie in 2010.

“That’s right, two-nine,” Crennel shouts after the third-year safety. “I like what I’m seeing.”

Berry and the other members of the now-recovered “ACL Team” have impressed thus far.

Tight end Tony Moeaki and running back Jamaal Charles have looked just as good in training camp as Berry has, and that’s good news for the Chiefs as they head into their first true “game week.”

The Chiefs received even more good news on Monday. During his press conference, Crennel confirmed that all three players will see playing time in Friday’s matchup against the Arizona Cardinals at Arrowhead Stadium.

The trio will also see significant field time during Tuesday’s intersquad practice against the Cardinals, said Crennel.

“I think it’s important for them to get reps in the game to begin to find out where they are, how they feel, and how those injuries are recovering for them,” Crennel said. “We’ll give them some time and see how it goes.”

In order to build up to this moment, the Chiefs took a wait-and-see approach with the three players during offseason workouts. Charles, Moeaki, and Berry were part of a larger contingent of players that rehabbed on a side field at the practice facility during OTAs. When others were catching balls, getting handoffs, or tipping passes, the trio could only watch.

That approach was scrapped for training camp when each player was cleared by doctors. Berry, Charles, and Moeaki have been at each of the Chiefs’ nine practices so far.

Tomorrow’s practice – the one against the Cardinals – will be the biggest one yet. Crennel doesn’t know how many reps each player will get, but he does know that the three guys the Chiefs lost last season will see substantial time in the tune-up.

“We’ll probably try to divide it up and give the first guys a few more reps than we give the third guys, for instance,” said Crennel. “But, we’re going to try to look at everybody.”

For the first time in a long time, “everybody” includes Charles, Berry, and Moeaki. And although each member of the “ACL trio” expected to be at this point by the time this training camp began, practicing tomorrow and playing in Friday’s game are two significant milestones to reach.

“I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all been looking forward to this moment,” Moeaki said after Monday’s practice. “”Everyone will be a little rusty, and maybe we’ll have a little bit more rust (as formerly injured players. But that’s what these preseason games are for.”

Old Faces in New Places

The promise of last season eroded with each significant injury the Chiefs suffered. So Romeo Crennel won’t enter the 2012 campaign without several solid backup plans.

Crennel and his staff tinkered with the contingency plans at center by giving left guard Ryan Lilja some snaps at center on Saturday, and again today.

Should something happen to the starter, Rodney Hudson, such a move would infuse more experience at one of the most important positions on the line. Hudson, Rob Bruggeman, and Lucas Patterson have all taken snaps in practice, but have a combined zero starts at center during the regular season.

Lilja, a nine-year veteran, could be the best option in a worst-case scenario. And with last season in mind, Crennel said he’s planning on giving Lilja some snaps at center during preseason games.

“Lilja has snapped in practice,” explained Crennel. “If you are going to put him in the game ever then you need to give him some reps with a defense. We are trying to do that to protect ourselves.”

Crennel is also exploring options in the secondary. With starting cornerback Brandon Flowers nursing a sore foot, Jalil Brown stepped into his outside role for the last two practices.

Defensive back Travis Daniels had previously manned Flowers’ position opposite Stanford Routt, with Brown used primarily as a nickel back or first-team slot corner.

But Crennel knows that injuries happen in the NFL, and when they do, he said he’ll be able to turn to Brown in a pinch.

“I told him this morning that we’ll probably roll him in just a little bit more so we can get a better look at him,” said Crennel of Brown’s promotion. “I would have to say that what he’s done deserves more look.”

Take Five: Quick-Hitters from Monday’s Practice

1) Flowers (foot) sat out both sessions on Monday, but Crennel said he expects the starting corner back at practice soon. Also missing practice: Junior Hemingway (groin), Shane Bannon (abdominal), Ethan Johnson (head/chin), and Dwayne Bowe (contract).

2) Moeaki (photo above) had a great leaping touchdown catch in the front corner of the end zone. It was the second of two touchdown passes for Matt Cassel, who broke an early-practice funk with his toss to Moeaki and another one to receiver Jonathan Baldwin.

3) Travis Daniels had a big day with two picks. He read Cassel’s eyes perfectly on the first, drove on a ball in the middle of the field, and stepped in front of Steve Breaston. The second interception came on a Hail Mary from Cassel.

4) Nate Eachus and newcomer Patrick DiMarco shared reps at fullback during the afternoon practice. It was the first time DiMarco could suit up in pads due to a three-day waiting period established by the new CBA. Under the agreement, players have to wait three days after reporting before they can practice in pads. Cornerback Jacques Reeves also practiced in pads after his three-day waiting period was up.

5) Crennel on the death of Garrett Reid, son of Eagles’ head coach Andy Reid: “Even though today is a good day and the sun is shining, sometimes life throws people curve balls, so what happened with Andy [Reid] and his family – just want him to know that our thoughts and prayers are with him as he goes through this difficult time. Andy is a very good man. He’s a good man. It’s unfortunate that this has happened, but it’s part of life. He will move on just like the rest of us have to move on. He’ll have to do it in his time to make it happen.”

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