Camp Report: 8/21/11

Posted Aug 21, 2011

Several players catch Haley's eye in Baltimore

Back on the practice field for the first time since Friday’s game in Baltimore, the Chiefs re-opened camp at the club’s Kansas City training facility Sunday afternoon.

Prior to practice, Head Coach Todd Haley identified several players that impressed him during Kansas City’s 31-13 loss to the Ravens. Among the mentions included four players competing for reserve positions on Kansas City’s 53-man roster.

WR Verran Tucker: Haley was impressed with Tuckers ability to “show up in a number of areas”. The second-year wide out led the Chiefs with three catches for 68 yards Friday night, including this 28-yard laser from Ricky Stanzi.

Tucker’s ability to play special teams certainly help his cause in making the Chiefs 53-man roster; that skill set is what originally got him called up from the practice squad last season. Tucker is currently part of a numbers crunch at wide receiver with 13 players vying for five or six positions. He’s made several big catches in training camp and definitely helped himself in Baltimore.

LB Cameron Sheffield: Lost all of last season after suffering a freighting neck injury in the preseason, Sheffield has rebounded in impressive fashion. He’s shown many of the same traits that had the Chiefs coaching staff were excited about before last year’s injury.

Haley said he thought that Sheffield “showed up” in Baltimore.

There’s been a discerning eye on Sheffield this preseason as he responds from the injury that took away his rookie season. As he’s being tested more and more throughout camp, the outside linebacker appears to be responding well.

LB Justin Houston: The rookie out of Georgia was impossible to miss with 2.0 sacks and a forced fumble against Baltimore. Aside from those big plays, Haley was impressed with Houston’s overall performance as well.

Houston was the last rookie to report to camp, but appears to be catching up quickly. However, after Sunday’s practice, Houston said he feels that he still has a long way to go.

“I’m expecting more out of myself,” Houston said. “You can always get better. There were still mistakes out there that I need to correct and I’ve got work to do. I’m a long ways from where I want to be.”

QB Tyler Palko: Another standout from Friday night’s game, Palko impressed Haley by moving the second-team offense with consistency

 In a breakout performance, Palko finished 8-of-13 passing for 95 yards and a TD to post a 109.5 passer rating. He converted a handful of third downs, operated efficiently out of the two-minute offense and finished the game with the best stat line of any quarterback.

Palko is currently competing with rookie Ricky Stanzi for the Chiefs backup job behind starter Matt Cassel.

“I’m not concerned about that depth chart stuff,” Palko said. “Right now I’m trying to take advantage of the snaps I get in practice and at the end training camp when they make final cuts is when we’ll look at it.”

Reminder: The last chance for fans to see an open practice is at the Back to Football Bash Wednesday night inside Arrowhead Stadium. Here are some of the important details…

August 24th at Arrowhead Stadium

- Parking lots open at 5 p.m.; Stadium Gates open at 6 p.m.

- Practice begins at 7:15 p.m. with players signing autographs shortly before that time

- Free and open to the public

- Includes open practice, autographs and culminates with special fireworks show

The Chiefs Cheerleaders will also debut the 2011 Swimsuit Calendar in the new Draft Room beginning at 5:15 p.m. The entrance to the Draft Room, new to Arrowhead this year, is located between the Tower Gate and Gate F

- Ford Fan Experience opens at 5 p.m. and includes inflatables, games, face painting and fan photo opportunities

- Chiefs Ambassadors will be signing autographs/posing for pictures in Hall of Honor presented by Time Warner Cable

No Beef Between Haley/Harbaugh

In Sunday’s press conference, Todd Haley re-iterated his stance on Ravens Coach John Harbaugh’s late-game play calls.

“As I conveyed immediately after the game, I had no issue with Coach Harbaugh,” Haley said. “I conveyed to everybody that was there that he has to worry about the Baltimore Ravens and I have to worry about the Kansas City Chiefs. And that’s sincerely the way I feel.”

With the game well in hand, Baltimore began their final drive at the Kansas City 41-yard line with just over a minute to play. Instead of kneeing the ball or running out the clock, Harbaugh had third-string QB Hunter Cantwell throw a deep pass for a 38-yard gain. It was Cantwell’s first snap of the evening.

Operating out of a hurry-up package, Harbaugh then used the Ravens final timeout with 0:08 remaining in order to give rookie RB Anthony Allen a goal line carry. Allen scored on the one-yard plunge to make the final score 31-13.

Following the game, Harbaugh began his post-game press conference with an apology.

“First of all, I want to address the end of the game, and I just addressed it with the team,” Harbaugh said. “I want to apologize to the Chiefs if they feel like we were not doing the right thing at the end of the game. That wasn’t the mindset. The mindset was, ‘This is preseason.’ If this had been regular season, we would have been on a knee.

“The idea in that situation is to give these young guys who work hard, and who are trying to make a football team, this football team or another football team, to play the whole 60 minutes and give them a chance to show what they can do – offensive line, running backs, everybody. That’s the mindset. I know that’s debatable, I know there’s a point of view both ways, I understand that.”

Practice Observations

Practice had its lowest head count of the preseason Sunday afternoon with six players held out of action, and more joining that list as the session moved forward.

Missing practice in its entirety were: WR Jonathan Baldwin, LB Eric Bahktiari, OL Darryl Harris, LB Gabe Miller, T Ryan O’Callaghan and NT Anthony Toribio. With the exception of Miller, each of those players missed Wednesday’s final practice in St. Joseph.

Branden Albert and Jackie Battle – who both left Friday game with injuries – participated in practice, but only Battle finished. Albert left the field early, pushing rookie Butch Lewis into action with the first team during 11-v-11 work.

Jared Gaither, Tamba Hali and Chris Harr also had their workouts cut short. Of the three, only Harr returned to practice.

Highlights of the practice included WR Jerheme Urban getting behind Javier Arenas and Jon McGraw to catch a long TD pass from Tyler Palko. Matt Cassel also made one of his better throws of camp, turning his body on a boot to hit Tony Moeaki in stride for a nice gain. In addition to turning his body as he moved out of the pocket, Cassel read his progression well to find Moeaki, who was a secondary receiver on the route.

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