Camp Notebook: Versatile Travis Daniels is always ready

Posted Aug 2, 2012

Chiefs Training Camp Notebook Presented by Heartland Health

St. Joseph, Mo. – He carries an odd, wiry build for a defensive back. He’s taller than most cornerbacks, but skinnier than the majority of safeties. He hasn’t started a game in two seasons, but he hasn’t missed one either.

The one thing about Travis Daniels is that he’s always ready. Details aren’t necessary. He’s willing to jump in whenever, wherever.

“If I’m not careful, when someone goes down Travis is in the game right away and so he doesn’t miss an opportunity,” said head coach Romeo Crennel. “He’s a pro, he understands that every rep is important and he’s in-tune to the game, he’s in-tune to practice, and every time he gets a chance to go out there he goes out there.

“I have to pull him back sometimes.”

Daniels was at it again Thursday afternoon following Tuesday night’s mini-scare with starting cornerback Brandon Flowers.

“Flo” – as coaches and teammates call him – limped off the field during Tuesday’s session before hitching a ride to the locker room. The injury turned out to be nothing more than a foot bruise, but Daniels was quick to step in after Flowers’ exit.

Forget the fact that Daniels spent the entire offseason program working at safety and opened training camp doing the same. Injury presented opportunity and Daniels was quick to take advantage of the extra snaps.

“I take it as an honor that coaches even feel that I’m able to go in there and compete at both positions,” Daniels said of playing both safety and cornerback. “To do both jobs is definitely a hard task on the learning end of it, but they have enough confidence in my ability to do it. I’ve been playing safety, corner and even the nickel position starting back in college, so it’s not anything that is foreign to me.”

When safeties Eric Berry and Kendrick Lewis were rehabbing injuries during offseason practices, Crennel turned to Daniels for a veteran presence on the back line of his defense. When Flowers was injured Week Three in San Diego, it was Daniels who played outside opposite Brandon Carr.

Daniels notched two interceptions last season as a sub-package defender and he also picked off a pass in 2010 at Seattle when filling in for an injured Flowers.

“We’re working him primarily as a safety and a star, but if he had to go in at corner, he goes in and he plays corner and he holds his own because he’s a heady veteran,” said Crennel. “He can know the ability of the receiver, know when to press, know when to play off, he understands the routes, know when the guy has to make his break, he can tell you what route the guy is going to run pretty much. Because of his experience and his smartness, he can make plays.”

With Flowers out of action on Thursday, Daniels and Jalil Brown rotated reps with the first-team defense. When Flowers comes back, Daniels will probably slide back to safety.

The only position preference Daniels has is the one that puts him on Kansas City’s 53-man roster.

“I understand that in this league you are playing with the best of the best every time and one way to prolong your career as long as possible is to be able to play multiple positions and special teams as well,” Daniels said. “I’m excited that they call my number to do all of those different roles and I try to go out there and execute them to the best of my ability.”

Zorn Talks QBs

Quarterbacks coach Jim Zorn addressed the media for the first time of training camp following Thursday’s practice. Predictably, the majority of questions centered on Matt Cassel.

While Zorn was very complimentary of his starting quarterback’s performance thus far, he especially likes the way Cassel has been able to finish off drives.

 “As we start the periods and the different situations, he’s been able to finish and that’s something that I thought was lacking last year, Zorn said. “We’d get to that point where we would make the right decision, but we couldn’t execute the play. We are really starting to execute well, but remember that’s only in practice right now.”

Cassel hooked up with Jamaal Charles for a red zone score on Thursday after delivering red zone touchdown passes to Jonathan Baldwin and Steve Breaston during Tuesday night’s scrimmage session.

Zorn also said there is no clear-cut number two quarterback yet. It’s a competition he expects will stay active throughout the preseason, with game performance factoring into the decision.

“I think that’s a great competition right now,” Zorn said. “I see both of those guys taking pride in what they’re doing and they know the importance of getting better. They’re fighting it out. They really are. They’re duking it out.”

Take Five: Quick-Hitters from Thursday’s Practice

1. The Chiefs practiced without a fullback on Thursday. Shane Bannon nursed an abdominal injury and newly-acquired Patrick DiMarco must wait three days before practicing due to a new acclimation clause in the CBA. Running back Nate Eachus lined up for a few snaps as a lead blocker while working with the reserves.

2. Brandon Flowers missed practice with a bruised foot. Also held out were Junior Hemingway (groin), Ethan Johnson (chin/head), Jacques Reeves (person), Ray Willis (CBA acclimation period) and Dwayne Bowe (contract).

3. A few defensive highlights: Derrick Johnson made a quick read to stuff Jamaal Charles at the line of scrimmage during a third-down goal line snap. Tamba Hali and Allen Bailey each recorded sacks during Red Zone work as well.

4. Offensive highlights included a trio of touchdown receptions during the final three series of red zone scrimmage snaps. Jamaal Charles flashed speed and shiftiness in the open field to spring loose a screen pass, Nate Eachus hauled in a leaping catch running the seam and Jeremy Horne toe-tapped both feet inside the back left corner of the end zone to conclude practice.

5. Charles’ screen pass may have been the highlight of camp thus far. Not only did Charles show pre-injury speed and quickness, but the play was executed perfectly as well. Most notably, Rodney Hudson was able to get downfield in a hurry and delivered a key block to help spring Charles loose. Charles did the rest in the open field.

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