Insider Blog: OTA Report #11

Posted Jun 8, 2010

Defense continues to impress, Pope likes leverage and is the o-line starting to shape?

Organized Team Activity number 11 was relocated indoors on Tuesday at Arrowhead, just the second such practice of the spring/summer that was held on turf due to inclement weather.

“It’s always a little bit of a worry when you change the turf but I thought overall the guys handled it very well,” head coach Todd Haley said. “That was something that was very important to me, that when we do have to go inside around here we do have to be able to be productive and I thought overall they did a good job of looking out for each other but yet still getting a lot out of practice.”

DaJuan Morgan, who was excused from Monday’s practice for personal reasons, was back on the field Tuesday morning to give the Chiefs attendance from 86 of the 87 players who currently make up the roster. The lone missing Chief, as has been the case all off-season, was Jarrad Page. Page continues to shy away from workouts with an unsigned restricted free agent tender offer.

Defense Locked-In This Week

Week Four of OTAs is quickly turning into one for the defense. After dominating Monday’s practice, the defense looked impressive once again on Tuesday. A man who is competitive as it gets, offensive coordinator Charlie Weis has let the quarterbacks hear about their Monday mistakes.

“Charlie pushes you each and every day and he is a guy who doesn’t let anything slip by,” QB Matt Cassel said. “He is very meticulous in how he coaches. Yesterday, he was very tough on us because we can’t let that happen. We can’t have any lulls and that is important for us as we move forward. As a quarterback, that is what you need. You constantly need someone to push you and strive to get better even when you have a good day.”

Though the offense did respond with several nice plays to make today’s competition more level than Monday’s workout, the defense dominated the most competitive drill of the day to close practice – Team two-minute.

Here are the play-by-play results from the first and second team units that closed practice.

First Team Offense/Defense – Turnover on Downs

1st and 10 (Own 40): Cassel to TE Leonard Pope down the right hash for 15 yards.

1st and 10 (Opp. 45): Cassel overthrows WR Dexter McCluster

2nd and 10 (Opp. 45): Heavy pass rush, Cassel flushed right and sacked for three-yard loss.

3rd and 13 (Opp. 48): Cassel pass incomplete to WR Chris Chambers on deep corner route.

4th and 13 (Opp. 48): Cassel pass incomplete to WR Chris Chambers – back of end zone, Kendrick Lewis/Eric Berry in coverage.

Second Team Offense/Defense – Interception

1st and 10 (Own 40): Palko to an extended WR Jerheme Urban on a seven-yard out.

2nd and 3 (Own 47): Palko intercepted by a diving CB Mike Richardson (pass intended for Urban).

Players Held Out of Practice (Rehab/Conditioning Zone)

WR Quinten Lawrence

WR Lance Long

CB Brandon Flowers

RB Jamaal Charles

TE Brad Cottam

*QB Brodie Croyle

*Was not in the rehab zone, but did not participate in team drills

The injury list was decreased by one on Monday with the return of rookie TE Tony Moeaki and decreased by one on Tuesday as well with the return of WR David Grimes. Grimes practiced in earlier OTAs, but has been held out the past few weeks with a hamstring issue. None of the remaining members of the “rehab zone” have participated in any OTA work (note that Croyle is part of the injured list, but does not work out in the rehab area).

Pope Utilizing Leverage

What seems to be becoming a regular sight at OTAs is TE Leonard Pope hauling in a hefty gain down the seam, using his body to out-leverage smaller defenders. At 6’8, 264 pounds, Pope is the largest receiving target on the roster. Though he’s generally not thought of as a pass-catcher (his best seasonal total is just 23 catches), Pope is showing nice stride and body control in passing routes during OTAs.

The next step is to put the pads on and see if he remains a favorite target of the Chiefs quarterbacks. This story will be continued at training camp, but a nice opening chapter to Pope’s 2010 campaign is currently being written.

Dexter Does It Again

Once a day, Chiefs rookie Dexter McCluster does something to catch your eye. Some days, it’s simply his footwork and agility during individual drills and other days it’s a big-play that makes you say “wow.” Today was a “wow” day.

McCluster broke loose down the seam during seven-on-seven work and Matt Cassel found him between three closing defenders (ironically, against all SEC players and all part of McCluster’s rookie class). Cassel hit McCluster in stride, who made a very difficult catch as he led Eric Berry, Javier Arenas and Kendrick Lewis into the end zone behind him.

“(Dexter’s) come in here, he’s shown a bunch of the things he’s showed to us on his college tape and validated a lot of what the scouts, when they brought him to us as a guy they really like, validated a lot of what they’ve said about him and that’s a good sign,” Haley said.

O-Line Starting to Take Shape?

Today’s substitution pattern on the offensive line points to something that most of us have assumed throughout the off-season; the starters at left tackle, left guard and right guard all look somewhat set while the positions of center and right tackle leave more room for debate.

Maybe it’s pure coincidence, but the Chiefs took turns shuffling first-team reps between centers Rudy Niswanger and Casey Wiegmann, and right tackles Ryan O’Callaghan and Barry Richardson (pictured upper right). The remaining three positions of the offensive line saw no shuffling in the first unit – Branden Albert at left tackle, Brian Waters at left guard and Ryan Lilja at right guard.

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