Arrowhead Report: Wednesday, Sept. 29th

Posted Sep 29, 2010

Hardware is handed out and Leonard Pope receives the ultimate compliment

Kansas City’s player-enhanced coaching staff took to the field for the second of three bye-week practices Wednesday afternoon in a session that lasted roughly 90 minutes. While each of the Chiefs “new assistants” is taking their alternate bye-week jobs seriously, Mike Vrabel has been the most noticeable player/coach on the field.

Vrabel’s name is often thrown around in discussions of current players that would go on to make excellent coaches once their playing careers are finished. Cleveland defensive coordinator Rob Ryan labeled Vrabel as the smartest player that he’s ever coached last season, and Vrabel is often thought of as an on-field extension to the Chiefs coaching staff for the Chiefs.

Today, Vrabel was busy barking out various techniques while running the linebackers through individual drills. For someone attending their first Chiefs practice, Vrabel would have fooled the rookie eye into thinking he was a full-time coach.

“He’s a natural,” DE Wallace Gilberry said. “He knows football. Not only defense, but he knows football. He understands the concept of the offense and defense. I don’t know if he knows it, but he’s going to be a pretty good coach one day.”

There shouldn’t be any confusion as to the tempo of these bye-week practices. The fact that many of the position groups are being led by veteran teammates this week doesn’t mean that it’s any less intense for the players in pads. Vrabel’s approach to the coaching aspect of things is evidence of that.

“He’s intense,” Gilberry said. “There is no B.S. with him. He coaches to get you better. It’s the same things as when you’re playing next to him.”

Handing Out Hardware

Tamba Hali took home some NFL hardware for the first time of his four-career when he was named the AFC’s Defensive Player of the Week on Wednesday. He consistently abused the 49ers backfield last Sunday, notching a career-high 3.0 sacks and added a forced fumble.

Hali currently ranks third amongst AFC defenders in sacks with 3.5. Ironically, both of the AFC players ahead of Hali will square off against the Chiefs over the next two games. Indianapolis’ Robert Mathis and Houston’s Mario Williams both lead the AFC with 4.0 sacks a piece.

Previous awards earned by Hali include a selection to the USA Today All-Joe Team in 2009 and the Chiefs Mack Lee Hill Award (Rookie of the Year) in 2006. He is the first Chiefs player to win AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors since Derrick Johnson did so following Week 17 last season in Denver.

Also bringing home honors on Wednesday afternoon was the entire Chiefs offensive line.

Former head coach and broadcasting legend John Madden in his second season handing out a weekly “Protectors Award.” The honor is given to what Madden deems as the best overall offensive line performance of the week and he selected the Chiefs as that group following Kansas City’s 31-10 victory over San Francisco.

Last Sunday, the Chiefs churned out 207 rushing yards against the 49ers and did not allow a sack. The group also received a game ball from Todd Haley.

“They’re getting better,” Haley said. “One of the things that I was encouraged about in the process last year was that progress was clearly made in my opinion. That’s what led me to some encouragement coming into this year. They are getting better and they are working hard.”

Also, don’t forget, there is still time to vote Chiefs TE Tony Moeaki as the NFL’s Rookie of the Week.

Colts In Play      

Though the Chiefs won’t fully direct their attention towards the Colts until Monday morning, Kansas City’s “real” coaching staff has already begun to break down Indianapolis film. Thus far, first impressions are that Indianapolis is a team with an inordinate amount of team speed.

“I’ve looked at enough to know that they are a fast, fast team across the board,” Haley said. “They have great team speed and when they play at home that speed gets magnified even more by the turf, the environment and noise. They are a fast team and I think that they are an even faster team at home.”

One of the areas which the Chiefs set to improve upon this offseason was their own overall team speed. Through three games, it’s goes without question that the Chiefs are a faster team that they were a year ago. Seeing how they match up against Indy’s speed will be a good measurement of just how far they’ve come.

Ultimate Compliment for Pope

Chiefs starting TE Leonard Pope has yet to log a stat this season, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been an impact for the team. While rookie Tony Moeaki has been reeling in the receiving totals, Pope has been a major part of the Chiefs rushing success. At 6’8, 264, Pope is like an extra offensive tackle on the edge, only more athletic and pass-eligible.

In addition to helping the Chiefs post the league’s best rushing numbers, Haley says that Pope is the ultimate team player.

“No disrespect to any of the other guys, but I don’t know if there is a guy that cares more about this team than Leonard Pope,” Haley said.

Injury Report

There were good signs from Tyson Jackson out of Chiefs practice. Though still not in pads, Jackson ran through a number of drills with his teammates during the beginning stages of practice. It was the first time that we’ve seen Jackson increase his tempo since injuring his left knee against San Diego. Jackson contends that he’s making daily progress and that definitely showed today.

Ryan O’Callaghan (groin) and Javier Arenas (undisclosed) worked out on stationary bikes for the second consecutive day; Reshard Langford (ankle) was not outside for the beginning portion of practice. Also, Charlie Weis has not returned to practice following a health procedure.

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