Camp Notebook: Stanzi’s turn to run the twos

Posted Aug 15, 2012

Training Camp Notebook Presented by Heartland Health

St. Joseph, Mo. – Ricky Stanzi will be the first quarterback up after Matt Cassel Saturday night in St. Louis.

Stanzi, who is battling veteran Brady Quinn for the Chiefs primary backup job, worked with the third-team offense in Kansas City’s preseason opener against Arizona. The two quarterbacks have traded second-team reps throughout the training camp and the trend has continued into preseason games as well.

“One guy has had game experience with the second unit, so now we’re going to give the next guy game experience with the second unit and see what he can do and then that will help the evaluation,” head coach Romeo Crennel said. “They’re both working hard, they both understand the offense, they both have command in the huddle, and it’s still close.”

In fact, Stanzi and Quinn have alternated practice days working with the second-team offense as recently as this week after neither was able to create separation against Arizona.

Quinn was more efficient against the Cardinals completing seven of his 13 pass attempts, but he was also tagged with a turnover and did not produce any touchdown drives. Stanzi completed just two of his seven pass attempts, but delivered both completions on a five-play, 46-yard touchdown drive in the third quarter.

 “I want to see them progress and I want to see them execute,” said quarterbacks coach Jim Zorn. “I’m looking for other things beyond statistics, because as a quarterback myself and as a quarterbacks coach I want to see some of the little things that we’ve been working on and some of the technique things.

“I’m looking for poise, tempo, command at the line of scrimmage and how they are progressing in this offense. Are those guys going to be one step further than they were in last week’s game?”

For Cassel it’s a different story. His preseason debut was nearly flawless and left Zorn little to nit-pick in the film room.

When it comes to his starter, Zorn wants to see continued consistency and the ability to bounce back from adversity when it presents itself.

 “He performed very well,” Zorn said of Cassel. “There are always going to be ups and downs. We didn’t have many downs with Matt, but there will be. How he responds and his attitude when that happens will be a challenge when it comes and he’s yet to experience that yet.”

Stephenson: Arrowhead debut “meant the world to me”

Friday night was a moment Donald Stephenson had always dreamed about. From his prep days at Blue Springs High School to his college career at the University of Oklahoma, Stephenson always wondered what it would be like to run out of the end zone tunnel at Arrowhead Stadium as a member of the Chiefs.

Dreams became reality for the Kansas City native in last week’s preseason opener and it was every bit as special as Stephenson had imagined.

“In 2008 Oklahoma played Missouri at Arrowhead before we went on to the national championship and I thought that was a really special moment,” Stephenson recalled. “But actually having on a Chiefs uniform was even bigger.

“That’s something that I’ve always wanted to do. When I first ran out with the team it was such a good feeling. I’m used to seeing (player introductions) from the stands and being able to look up from the field into the stands this time was a really cool deal.”

In the stands were some of Stephenson’s friends and family members. Their presence, paired with the emotions of making his NFL debut for the team he grew up cheering for, actually served as a distraction the rookie had to overcome.

“When I first got out there with the team, (playing in front of the hometown crowd) was all I could think about,” Stephenson admitted. “Then I just had to reset and get back to it being about playing football. That’s kind of how it is.

“It was my first NFL game, and whether it’s at Arrowhead or any other place, it’s going to be a big deal. You just kind of have to learn to throw all of that to the side and play football.”

When it came to football, Stephenson worked as the second-team left tackle behind Branden Albert.

His performance certainly wasn’t error-free. Stephenson was flagged for a holding penalty that negated an eight-yard completion to running back Shaun Draughn and he wasn’t part of any touchdown drives, but his debut was productive enough to please offensive line coach Jack Bicknell, Jr.

“They did a nice job,” Bicknell, Jr. said of Stephenson and second-round draft pick Jeff Allen, who also saw time behind Albert at left tackle. “It’s different in the NFL. The speed of it is different. They did some nice things and then they also struggled at times with things that I know they will be able to get better at.

“That’s the key right now for them. Don’t make the same mistake. If you got beat inside, then don’t jump outside on the guy. I can remember one time when a Mike linebacker blitzed and Jeff Allen missed it. That’s the speed difference in this game and you’ve got to be ready to adjust to that.”

“I’ve learned this training camp that if you prepare well in practice the game will slow down for you,” Stephenson said. “If you go in there unprepared it will be a long, bad day for you.”

Take Five: Quick Hitters from Wednesday’s practice

1. Practice ended with a live goal line period giving the first, second and third units one snap to score form the two-yard line. It was the most spirited 11-on-11 competition of training camp with Matt Cassel hitting Steve Maneri in the end zone on the first snap and fullback Patrick DiMarco denied on the half-yard line after catching a flare pass for the second-team offense.

Everything came down to the third and final snap when running back Shaun Draughn concluded the practice by leaping over a pile defenders and rolling into the end zone.

2. The day belonged to the offense with plenty of scoring coming from the first, second and third units. Brady Quinn and Ricky Stanzi delivered multiple touchdown strikes including a naked bootleg from Quinn that fooled the entire defense. Jamar Newsome was the recipient of several big pass plays from Stanzi including a leaping catch with a toe-tap landing in the back of the end zone. 

3. Rookie wide receiver Brandon Kinnie had a standout day leaving his feet to deliver two head-turning receptions. The first came on a deep route down the right sideline from Quinn when he extended fully to make a diving catch. He went vertical on the second, out-jumping defensive backs to bring down the football.

4. Though most of the day’s action was provided by the offense, Eric Berry took back a pick-six when he read Cassel’s attempt to hit Dexter McCluster. Tamba Hali also had a key third down sack to end an offensive drive.

5. Junior Hemingway and Travis Daniels both took part in individual drills as they work to recover from groin injuries. Brandon Flowers remained out of practice with a foot injury. Cameron Sheffield (groin), Cyrus Gray (hamstring) and Ethan Johnson (head/chin) missed practice as well while De’Quan Menzie (undisclosed) excited early. Dwayne Bowe (contract) remains away from camp.

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