Heartland Health Practice Report: Scrimmage Saturday

Posted Aug 7, 2010

A Spratt Stadium record crowd of 10,721 turns out for Family Fun Day in St. Joseph

A Spratt Stadium record crowd of 10,721 turned out in St. Joseph to experience Family Fun Day and take in the Chiefs annual intrasquad scrimmage on Saturday afternoon. The attendance mark broke the previous high of 10,129, set on October 3, 2009 when NCAA Division II Northwest Missouri State visited Missouri Western in a MIAA Conference match-up. Northwest was ranked 6th nationally at the time, while Western was ranked 12th.

“It was great to see the fans out here today and to get some live competition,” QB Matt Cassel said. “Over 10,000 people showed up to set a stadium record, so it was a good start and first test for us.”

In a controlled environment, the Chiefs ran through roughly 80 plays pitting various personnel groupings against one another. NFL officials were on hand, though the scrimmage situations were largely dictated by head coach Todd Haley who stood with a whistle some 15 yards behind the football.

In a contrast to previous scrimmage settings, the Chiefs did not tackle each other to the ground, but rather thudded and wrapped up along with a quick whistle. With live sessions conducted at one time or another over the last three practice periods, Saturday was more about seeing how the team functioned in a game-like setting rather than physicality. Part of that line of thinking included each of the the Chiefs coordinators calling the scrimmage from their respective gameday residences.

Offensive coordinator Charlie Weis called plays from the press box on Saturday, while defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel controlled the defense from the sidelines. Saturday’s set-up is how the Chiefs will approach Friday’s preseason opener in Atlanta.

“This is a first time run-thru for us and I would say going into the first preseason game it will be similar to today,” Haley said. “That is part of what you get done as a staff, preseason especially with some new guys involved. We are just trying to figure out the best way to best take advantage of all of our coaches.”

A year ago, both Haley and defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast called plays from the sidelines. Despite his location last season (and in Arizona), Haley believes that a seat upstairs is the optimal position for an offensive coordinator to call plays.

“I think the way I was taught and believed was, the best place to call a game, at least offensively, was the coaches’ box which was a much more sterile, unemotional environment and had a much better view, far and away,” Haley said.

Haley was sold on coordinators belonging in the booth years ago by longtime NFL offensive coordinator Dan Henning. However, special circumstances involving the quarterback position prevented Haley from going upstairs in recent years.

“The situation I was in, experience-wise, you have to account for a lot of different things, who’s talking to the quarterback – you can’t do that from the box so somebody else has to do that,” Haley explained. “The situation I was in when I was coordinator was one that we didn’t have somebody that could do that had done that or felt comfortable, so it was more about necessity.”

Saturday was the one of the final tests before football actually kicks off in 2010. The Chiefs will enjoy an off day on Sunday before knocking out five practices Monday-Wednesday. The team will then travel to Atlanta on Thursday and kickoff against the Falcons at 7:00 PM CST Friday night.

Chiefs Waive RB Tervaris Johnson

The Chiefs waived rookie free agent RB Tervaris Johnson before Saturday’s scrimmage, replacing him on the 80-man roster with OL Dan Santucci. Johnson was working at fullback for the Chiefs through Wednesday night’s practice under the lights of Spratt. He left the field that night with an apparent injury and had not practiced since.

Santucci, originally a seventh-round pick of the Bengals in 2007, played collegiately under Weis at Notre Dame and has two games of NFL experience. Santucci was on the field Saturday and repped with the reserve offensive line at left guard. He wore jersey #77.

Guards Brian Waters and Darryl Harris were the only two Chiefs held out of Saturday's scrimmage.

Loudest Cheer

Fans left St. Joseph with a good impression of first-round draft pick Eric Berry. Berry received a huge ovation after picking off QB Brodie Croyle during the scrimmage and was the final Chiefs player to leave Spratt Stadium after signing fan autographs.

“I was more upset that I fell,” Berry said of the interception. “It is what it is. It’s something that I can build off of and our defense did pretty well today.”

Offensive Play of the Day

TE Jake O’Connell reeled in a diving 18-yard TD catch from QB Brodie Croyle. Croyle’s pass led O’Connell just a bit much, but O’Connell left his feet for an outstretched catch to haul in one of the most impressive TD connections of training camp.

Defensive Play of the Day

Rookie OLB Cameron Sheffield seemed to have a nose for the football and, in turn, heard his name called on numerous occasions over the stadium PA. LB Derrick Johnson also found himself in the middle of plenty of plays and made an impressive recognition on a screen pass to throw the offense for a five-yard loss. DE Wallace Gilberry was in the backfield just as much as any player over the course of the day.

“I wasn’t begging (for the sacks),” Gilberry said. “I was just trying to get (Coach Haley) to lean my way some of the time. He’s an offensive guy, so he’s going to favor those guys a little bit. It’s all in the fun of the game, so I just wanted to work hard and if they see it, then they see it; if they don’t, they don’t.”

Gilberry’s comments were somewhat humorous considering Haley touched on the same topic earlier in the day.

“I’m working hard because I fight with these coaches every day about the defensive coach saying something about the offensive coach and then the offensive coach is mad at me because they think I’m siding with the defense in all these issues that come up every day (like Charlie running a toss in 9-on-7),” Haley joked.

Special Teams Play of the Day

K Ryan Succop was a perfect three-of-three on the day, connecting on kicks of 38, 48 and 53 yards.

“Camps gone really well so far and Thomas Gafford and Dustin Colquitt have done a great job of snapping and holding,” Succop said. “That really helps me out a lot. Those guys were right on cue today.”

P Dustin Colquitt also brought out what “Voice of the Chiefs” Mitch Holthus likes to call, “Some Funky Chicken.” The left-footer can put some serious spin on the football and drop his kicks at angles that young punt returners aren’t accustomed to. Case in point was rookie Dexter McCluster, who muffed two Colquitt punts before breaking the streak with a fair catch. Fellow rookie Javier Arenas also returned punts, taking the first reps.

TD Plays

RB Jackie Battle: One-yard TD run

TE Leroy Banks: 37-yard TD catch from QB Tyler Palko

TE Jake O’Connell: 18-yard TD catch from QB Brodie Croyle

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