Competition on the mind as players arrive in St. Joseph

Posted Jul 26, 2012

The Chiefs arrived at training camp on Thursday with practices set to kickoff on Friday afternoon

Few players will appreciate the air-conditioned dorms of Missouri Western State University more than Caleb Campbell.

The linebacker never had the luxury of cooler living quarters during their four years at West Point. So as players reported for three weeks of training camp, the former cadet appreciated a place to escape from the hot summer heat.

He also appreciated that his arrival in St. Joseph’s meant he’ll have the chance to make an NFL final 53-man roster in September.  The Army required Campbell to serve two years before heading for the pros, meaning the 2008 seventh round draft pick waited until 2010 to appear for the Detroit Lions.

Now with the Chiefs, Campbell will lean on those two years of military service and his four years at West Point when competition heats up on Friday.

“We have a quote when we walk into the West Point Football field,” said Campbell. “It says ‘On the fields of friendly strife are sown the seeds that on other days and other fields will bear the fruits of victory.’ It means that the seeds you sow while playing this game, the intrinsic qualities that it takes to play this game run parallel with other fields of battle on other days.”

Campbell and other Chiefs players will have to battle harder than ever before in order to keep their jobs. With more players gunning for roster spots than ever before, this year’s training camp figures to be the most competitive in recent history.

That means these three weeks will be extra-important for Chiefs reserve players trying to keep their spots or move up on the depth chart.

Terrance Copper is one of those players. The veteran will need to fend off younger receivers throughout training camp in order to earn his fourth season in Kansas City.

“I can’t worry about that (competition),” Copper said. “I look forward to it. This is training camp, so you have to look forward to it.”

Training camp will be a platform for Copper and others to prove their worth. And for most if not all of those players, special teams play will factor in as Chiefs coaches evaluate whether or not they deserve playing time.

Because of injuries to starters Kendrick Lewis and Eric Berry, undrafted rookie Tysyn Hartman received some snaps with the second-team defense at safety. Entering training camp, Hartman will juggle that reserve role while trying to make the roster with his special teams play.

Hartman said he’s looking forward for any opportunity to come his way.

“We all want to come out, play well, turn the heads of the coaches, and get noticed” said Hartman. “It’s a great opportunity for me.”

Hartman can model his first season after another Chiefs player in order to make the most of that opportunity. Defensive back Jalil Brown will battle for a key role this season because he excelled on special teams last season, and even though Brown is entering his second year, he’ll compete for the sub-package cornerback job.

“I’m really just trying to contribute as much as a can to the team,” Brown said about his goals for this year. “Wherever the coach asks me to go out there and perform, that’s where I’ll go ahead and do.”

That mindset is the same one Campbell brought with him to St. Joseph this year. After earning an invitation to three training camps, he said he needs to show more consistency before latching onto a regular season roster spot.

“I have a good play here and there, and then there are some plays where it just doesn’t happen,” said Campbell. “If I can find that level of consistency, I’ll be alright.”

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