Chiefs OTA Observations 5/26: Day One in the Books

News and notes from Tuesday’s Chiefs practice

The Kansas City Chiefs took the field for the first time together on Tuesday for the first of 10 OTA (Organized Training Activities) practices they'll have over the next month.

With the temperatures hovering around 80 degrees, the players worked out for over two hours at the University of Kansas Hospital Training Complex.

Nuts and Bolts of Tuesday's practice: 

  • Players not in attendance: Allen Bailey, Husain Abdullah, Daniel Sorensen, Eric Berry, Tyler Bray, Demetrius Harris and Justin Houston.
  • There's no live contact allowed, but the team did work through 7-on-7, 9-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills.
  • In offensive versus defensive drills, there was a level of competitiveness that showed how excited these guys were at getting back on the field.
  • While there appeared to be first team offenses and defenses, Chiefs coach Andy Reid says they'll rotate through a lot of guys.
  • Derrick Johnson, Mike DeVito, Sanders Commings, Dezman Moses, Cyrus Gray, Mike Catapano and Jeff Allen returned to team practice for the first time since being placed on IR last season.
  • Chiefs coach Andy Reid, quarterback Alex Smith, running back Jamaal Charles, receiver Jeremy Maclin, linebackers Derrick Johnson and Tamba Hali and kicker Cairo Santos all spoke at the podium after practice.

Positional Spotlight

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One of the most interesting storylines to follow throughout this offseason will be the continuity developed between Smith and Maclin.

On Tuesday, Smith, Maclin and company spent quite a bit of time working on routes and timing in the passing game. Early in practice, both Smith and Chase Daniel spent their time working with the receivers under the watchful eye of Reid. At the same time on the opposite side of the field, Aaron Murray was working with the tight ends and running backs with offensive coordinator Doug Pederson calling the shots.

There was a considerable amount of time working 9-on-7 drills with the offense and defense going at it. It's hard to declare a winner going up against one another without any pads or officials. But it's fair to say that both sides made plenty of plays.

The Kansas City Chiefs begin phase three of the offseason program at The University of Kansas Hospital Training Complex.

Top plays from Tuesday's practice

The first big passing attempt came on a beautiful throw from Smith to Maclin down the left sideline on a vertical route. Maclin caught the ball in stride and understanding there's only so much you can learn from guys practicing in shorts and T-shirts, the pass was perfect.

It was the kind of throw-and-catch Chiefs fans were hoping to see plenty of when it was announced that Maclin was going to be joining this offense.

On the defensive side, safety Kelcie McCray made a really nice play across the middle to pick off a passing attempt up the seam.

The Chiefs' third-round pick, receiver Chris Conley, continues to show an impressive combination of size and speed when working through positional drills.

Quotes of the Day

Linebacker Derrick Johnson: "Every time [Mike DeVito and I] would walk by each other, we're giving each other high fives. It's been a long road for us. We've been talking about this day since we got hurt. We're definitely blessed. As long as we stay healthy, we'll do a lot with this team."

Running back Jamaal Charles: "I feel good; I feel healthy. I eat right and take vitamins. I do yoga. I'm doing everything I'm supposed to be doing to keep my body up."

Receiver Jeremy Maclin: "When you're talking about [Alex Smith and myself], I think that's the number one thing (chemistry). We're looking forward to it. I think it's all about getting to know each other, getting our timing down. I think we got off to a pretty good start."

Player Spotlight – Veteran receiver Jason Avant

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It's not normal for a receiver to be picked up in Week 13 of the regular season and have the ability to step in and make any kind of a difference for his new team.

But veteran receiver Jason Avant was able to do that for the Chiefs last season.

In the first 12 weeks of the season with the Carolina Panthers, Avant had just 21 receptions for 201 yards and one touchdown. In his five weeks with the Chiefs, Avant had 13 receptions for 152 yards.

They're not eye-popping numbers, but considering he stepped right into a playoff contender and even with the knowledge of some of Andy Reid's offense from their seven years together with the Eagles, this was still no easy task.

Now, Avant has had a full offseason to get comfortable with his surroundings and his teammates in Kansas City. He likes what the Chiefs have been able to put together heading into 2015.

"We like what we have, but we understand that it takes work," Avant explained. "I've been on some of the most talented teams you've ever seen. But the most talented team doesn't always win every year.

"It's not just hard work. It's being the same guy every day, consistently being good. That's the biggest thing. If we can bring energy and be consistent, we'll be fine."

Avant is the only receiver on the Chiefs roster who is at least 28 years old. At 32 years old, Avant knows he, along with the newly-signed Jeremy Maclin (27), will be counted on to provide leadership to a young receiving group.

"You have to build a rapport with people and set an example," he explained. "You can't tell people what to do and you don't do the right things. You have to lead by example, and that gives you an opportunity to speak because your play has spoken to them already. So now when you open your mouth it's respected."

He continued.

"You just have to make sure that guys are on the same page. You coach them up on stuff and do your best. On this team, everyone is coachable and that allows us to help them."

Hear from coach Reid and the players themselves:

HC Andy Reid

OPENING STATEMENT:"Alright, so these are the injuries that you've got. Demetrius Harris had foot surgery on the foot that he had surgery on. The natural grafting that normally takes place when you put a screw in there didn't take place, so they went in and they grafted it, they've re-presented a screw in the bones there and we'll see how he does. They feel pretty confident about this one coming up here. (Jarrod) Pughsley had a hamstring strain that happened last week. It doesn't look like it's too bad, so I'm sure he'll be back out. And then (Daniel) Sorensen, (Allen) Bailey and Husain (Abdullah) for various reasons. Sorensen's wife is having a baby, so he's at the hospital. And then Bailey and Husain got caught in that storm down south, so they're trying to make their way back here and get here. So all in all, I thought today was a good day. It was great to get back out on the field and be able to go offense versus defense. And that's a primary difference between this camp and the other camps that we've had in phase one and phase two. I thought the guys got to work. It's always a little faster, so they got to work at a little bit better speed than what they've been doing before versus air. The time is yours."

Q: When did the latest surgery for Demetrius Harris take place? Was that recently?

REID:"I'll get it to you. The date of the surgery I'm not sure is on here. We'll get that to you."

Q: From what you know, are you optimistic?

REID:"Yeah, we are. We knew there was a possibility of this happening. They wanted to try it without the graft initially, but we feel pretty good that he is going to be okay."

Q: What do you think about your rookie tight end James O'Shaughnessy? Do you feel comfortable that he is developed enough to help you out this year if you need him?

REID:"Yeah, I think there's a chance. We've got to see; he's got a long way to go. So we've got to see how he does. But up to this point, he has done very well and I'll be curious to see as we keep giving him things, how he handles it, and once we put pads on that'll be another test."

Q: What are the strengths of your other tight ends Richard Gordon and Adam Schiltz?

REID:"Gordon is actually a converted defensive lineman, so you know right away he is going to bring you a physical presence in there. We saw that with his blocking, he is very good at that. And then he's worked like crazy to make sure his pass game caught up to the run game part, the blocking part. And I think he's done a nice job, he's done some good things out here today. Schiltz kind of does both. He gives you pass and run. He's not the fastest guy in the world, but he is adequate in there and works his tail off. I think all around that position there are going to be some good battles."

Q: What are your overall thoughts on moving the PAT back to the 15-yard line especially as you transition with a new long snapper?

REID:"Yeah, well we kind of had a feeling it was going to go that way, with the exception of being able to return the extra point or the two-point play for scores. It's basically what we had during preseason last year, so I'm okay with it. I don't mind it. I think it puts emphasis on special teams, that's always good. We try to put emphasis on it and this adds to it from a league standpoint. I'll be interested to see how it all works out."

Q: How much do you feel the rule will change your strategy?

REID:"I don't think it will much because you're at the two (yard-line). Now if you're playing a thousand games statistically you could probably work that out, where you're shooting 43% with your two-point plays, you're shooting 90-whatever percent plus with your extra points, and one is two points, and you can go through that and do that with your whole statistical analysis, but we're not playing that many games."

Q: Do you think with how good the kickers have gotten in today's game, that moving it back will make that much of a difference?

REID:"You're still shooting in the 90's, you know what I'm saying? It's not the 99.6, but you're going to be probably somewhere between 90 and 94 percent from that area there. And so, I still think those are good numbers."

Q: Were the field goals that you kicked in practice today all from the new PAT distance?

REID:"Yeah, most of them were right from that spot, yeah."

Q: And that was by design?

REID:"Yeah. I mean, listen, he's kicked quite a few of them from the 15. The one thing you have is you have that advantage and where your number might fluctuate from the 90-94, is that we can tell the kicker what hash, we get to spot the ball. And so maybe that gives you a little extra percentage there."

Q: What were special teams coordinator Dave Toub's thoughts on the change?

REID:"I think I'm probably ditto on what he would tell you. As a special teams coach, you like to have plays that challenge the special teams, and so this puts more emphasis on it and if you take it from a strategy standpoint, you're at the two and you're kicking an extra point, you're close enough where the fake becomes very prevalent. So your rush is a little bit different level than if you're out at the 15, where that's probably not going to take place or the odds are less than at the two. And so that rush is going to be a violent rush coming in there, more so than at the two."

Q: You have Zach Fulton working at center. Is this something he has done before?

REID:"He has. He did it last year a little bit at camp. He hadn't done it before that, but he did it in camp."

Q: Can you give us an update as far as you know on Eric Berry?

REID:"Yeah, Eric actually is doing well. He is going to get his big end-of the school exam done here. So he has been through all of the treatments and now the doctor is going to sit down with him and go over exactly what the results of that are. And so we don't have that, Eric doesn't have it quite yet, but everything up to this point has been very positive from the doctor and from Eric, and so I think we're heading in the right direction with that."

Q: What went into the decision of starting Jeff Allen and Donald Stephenson together with the first team in practice number one? How do you make that decision?

REID:"We're kind of playing everybody in all different spots, so we don't even care. Tomorrow will probably be different. We're going to find the five best guys, that's what we're trying to get to. I really don't care where they play, I just want the five best guys and then we line up and we go play."

Q: But initially you're not just throwing guys out there? It's based on something, right?

REID:"Well, we have guys that have got some experience and so, that doesn't mean we're not comfortable with a rookie. We're comfortable with him too; he's picked it up pretty fast here. But the end result is let's get reps. You saw it right in the middle, Alex was still out there and we had another center come in. Zach came in with the ones. So I don't really care. Let's go, let's just find the best guys and then we go with it."

Q: How does Zach Fulton's skillset translate to center?

REID:"He did a little bit during training camp last year, so we've got an idea of what he can do there. We rotate a few guys in at that center spot. It's an important position. If something happens, if he's not the starter and somebody else is or however that works, you want to make sure you have more than one."

Q: You had Mitch Morse playing center in seven-on-seven. Are you doing that because he needs more work on the shotgun snap?

REID:"I wouldn't read into that too much. We rotate all of those guys through and listen, it's probably two-fold. You can't get enough reps, so things I told him during that period was, 'when you come over here – even though it was seven-on-seven – you're taking all of your movements fast and according to the protection that is given to you. And so it's not a rest period and you get good work in.' But they'll all be doing it to answer your question."

Q: How much are you throwing at these guys from a logistics standpoint as you gradually move towards training camp? REID:"Yeah, most of this is what they're going to get in training camp, so the plays that they're doing now are basically the same one's that they are going to see in camp."

QB Alex Smith

Q: Did you have a good first day and good start to OTAs?

SMITH:"Yeah, it was. A bunch of good work. There is always that element of the first day, we've got the helmets back on and back going and first time in however many months that you can do 11-on-11 and one-on-one's and all of that, so I thought it was really good work. It was a clean practice, so good speed. You don't have pads on, so you want to get the most out of it, but obviously be safe out here as well."

Q: When you get a really windy day, does that affect anything?

SMITH:"It's good practice for us. A little Midwest weather and it's just not predictable when you come out and you just practice in it and the more you practice in it, the better you just come out here and go and don't think about it. But good work for us in the passing game."

Q: Are you expecting to be utilized going for two more with the new PAT rule in place?

SMITH:"To be totally honest, I haven't given it much, if any, thought. Not my department. We'll see. Obviously I think that's something the coaches have to talk about and think about as the season gets closer, but it's certainly not on my mind right now."

Q: Normally you don't have set two-point plays during the week leading up to a game. Instead you have goal line plays, is that right?

SMITH:"No, we definitely talk about it. I could tell you going into Sunday every single game what our plan is and what we're thinking. Coach is very detailed, our whole offensive staff is very detailed, so that is something that we talk about often and rehearse and rep. So I don't know if that will change with the rule change or not."

WR Jeremy Maclin

Q: What are you personally looking forward to getting done in these practices?

MACLIN:"I think just the chemistry between Alex (Smith) and I. When you're talking about me and him, I think that's the number one thing. What we're looking forward to doing, I don't think you can judge it by completed balls, I think it's all about getting to know each other and getting our timing down. I think we've gotten off to a pretty good start doing that."

Q: When you're talking about developing the timing with Alex, is it important to get a real defender across from you, is that a key to developing that?

MACLIN:"Absolutely. Things change a little bit when defenders are out there, a 12-yard route might get cut down to 10 depending on the coverage looks you're getting. In a perfect world you'd like to run straight every time and make your break, but that doesn't happen when there are defenses out there, so I think this is good for us. "

Q: How much time have you and Alex spent time watching film together, talking through the intricacies of this offense?

MACLIN:"We've spent some time. We'll continue to stay on top of that and go through stuff and kind of see what he was thinking on a particular play and give my suggestions on what I would do in those situations. I've watched some stuff on them and they've watched some stuff on me last year in Philly, so we'll continue to work at it. This is what it's all about, right now it's all about perfecting the timing."

LB Derrick Johnson

Q: You're under no restrictions?

JOHNSON:"Yes, no restrictions. A lot of people asked me, "You ready to go today?", and I was more so worried about dropping a ball when I jump a route, that's what I was worried about."

Q: What does it mean to get to this point?

JOHNSON:"It means a lot. Even though it's just OTAs, I'm a veteran, I've been to OTAs a lot, but at the same time after being out a year, I need this time.  I need this time, this is big for me. This is going to help me get back to form and when the 2015 season comes around I'll be going."

Q: Was there any moment today where you felt like you're back?

JOHNSON:"Yes, there was one time they threw the ball out to Knile (Davis) in the flat and I tracked him down pretty good. Then the next play Jamaal (Charles) caught a ball on me, so I guess I went back down a little bit, but football is never perfect, that's one of the best things about it, it's always going to humble you, even if you have a good play here and there. I've got a lot of work to do, but I'm excited."

RB Jamaal Charles

Q: How are you doing?

CHARLES:"Doing good."

Q: How do you feel?

CHARLES:"Feeling great."

Q: Just running free and clear like you're 18 years old?

CHARLES:"Yep, I feel like I'm young all over again. I'm older, but running against these young guys out here and conditioning with them, I feel like I can keep up with the young guys."

Q: How old do you feel physically?

CHARLES:"I feel like I am 20, 21. I feel good, I feel healthy, I eat right, I take vitamins, I do yoga. I am doing everything I am supposed to do to keep my body up at age. I lose weight, every year you're supposed to lose more than you need. When you get older, you're supposed to lose one pound every year and massage your weight. So I think I am doing well."

Q: What are you weighing at right now?

CHARLES:"Probably like at 204 right now."

Q: What were you at last year?

CHARLES:"I normally start at 207; in December probably about 195."

Q: How has training been going with Derrick Johnson?

CHARLES:"I've been training with DJ this whole offseason, so he's been up to speed fast. He is itching to get back out on the field, so I'm just excited for him to be back out on the field. I've been telling him he's been looking good since I've been working out with him ever since March. He's been dunking the ball, that's surprising with an Achilles. So with him coming back, we're going to need him this year for sure. We're playing against a lot of good teams this year."

Q: What was your initial reaction running behind the offensive line today?

CHARLES:"It felt comfortable. I feel like we've got some guys that have been playing for a while. We've got vet guys up there that can help the young guys. I feel so comfortable with that line now.  Not saying I didn't last year, but I feel a lot more comfortable than I did last year."

Q: With no pads or contact, how much can you get out of the running game in these practices?

CHARLES:"You can't really get much. All you can work on is your technique, your foundation. You can't get much because the offensive line can't really get any grab or push because it's just shirts. Also, we're not trying to hurt one of our teammates. We're trying to look out for one another too and the best thing is to work on my fundamentals, my alignments, where I need to be at with my aiming point, inside leg of the tight end, stuff like that. I'm just getting the technique down."

Q: So are you concentrated more on the passing game?

CHARLES:"Yeah, that passing game is more realistic than the running game. You get more like seven-on-seven out there; it's like a real game. You're just not hitting. So I feel like when I go out as a running back, I don't mess around with it. I take everything in. I work hard, I look at everything I am supposed to, who I am supposed to read at the line. When I go out for a pass, I just try to catch the ball and look the ball in and read the defense."

Q: With you turning 29 later this season, have you thought about changing how you run?

CHARLES:"I think (since) the years back then, (the game) has changed. They've got all kinds of technology now, all kinds of medicine people have come up with to stay healthy. At the end of the day, an ACL you couldn't play (with), it was the end of a career. Now they've got all kinds of things that you can be back in like five or four months. It's just the years are changing, the future is changing, football is changing, sports are just changing. You can see basketball, like Kobe Bryant, he is still playing at 36. You see Tim Duncan. Just sports are changing and I think back in the days you couldn't play for long because there were a lot of people that didn't know the fundamentals of hitting, running people over. That's not my form. I want to play another six years so, my form is to keep on taking my diet. The future is changing, football is changing. I'm seeing guys at 37 or 38 still playing football in the trenches and that's somewhere where you don't want to play. So I just want to change the game with the running backs. I want this to last longer and then when I retire, I'll be happy with where I end my career at."

Q: Why was last year so frustrating?

CHARLES:"It was just frustrating. It wasn't the line; it was just me getting hurt. I had never played a whole season where I had nagging injuries and I can go in and I've got to come back out because my ankle hurt. And that was all the frustration. It wasn't about the team. The team did a great job. We won nine games last year, so it couldn't be the team. It was me because I missed a game and I felt like my team needed me. Even though Knile (Davis) did a great job, it just was frustrating getting hurt, that's the only part."

Q: How much do things change for you when you have new guys in front of you? Do you change how you run or do instincts take over?

CHARLES:"No, I think none of my instincts are going to change. I just feel comfortable because I feel like I have a Pro Bowl guard (Ben Grubbs) in front of me and I've got Jeff (Allen) back and we went to the playoffs with him. We've got Fish (Eric Fisher) who is developing more in his third year, we've got Donald and he played a whole season and did a great job when Branden (Albert) and Fish were going at it and battling for depth at the positon. So now, I feel way comfortable these guys are getting focused and it's time to get the step on now."

LB Tamba Hali

Q: How does the knee feel?

HALI:"It feels good. Glad to get out here and cut on it, run on it, it feels good."

Q: I know you're a worker, but what did you do to rest your knee?

HALI:"I took a month off, traveled, came back and had surgery and started rehab the next day. I've been going since. The organization gave me some time to stay off of it. I work when I can and they rest me when I can't."

Q: How do the young kids behind you look?

HALI:"The rookies, I haven't really watched them that much. With Dee Ford, obviously his second year in he's starting to get it more, understanding the scheme. Those guys are hungry, they want to make plays, they want to establish themselves here as consistent players that can do it year in and year out, we look forward to it."

Q: You've taken to twitter to express how you've missed Justin Houston, how often do you talk?

HALI: "Every two or three weeks we talk. He's working, he's working his tail off. Like any player he wants to be here, but again we know our league is a business and you have to allow that business to work itself out. He wants to be here, he's missing it."

K Cairo Santos

Q: What are your general thoughts about moving the PAT back to the 15-yard line?

SANTOS:"We just have to adjust. They'll make the rules and we just have to keep kicking. And we went through it last preseason, so it's not something completely strange or out of nowhere. We'll just be out here practicing and getting comfortable with that feel of lining up. Now we'll be kicking from the 23-yard line instead of the 10-yard line, so it's just getting comfortable with that feeling. It's the same thing, it's the same kick. So now we just have to do it for one point."

Q: What are you seeing from the two new long snappers and building chemistry with them?

SANTOS:"Yeah, they're really good. They make me feel comfortable. We've been kicking together since we've been here in Kansas City, and so we're in a good rhythm right now. We've got to keep going and we'll see. We don't know when they'll make a decision, but both guys are excellent and make me feel really comfortable."

Q: What is the difference between a 20-yard kick and a 33-yard kick?

SANTOS:"I think just the 20-yarder you can get away with miss-hits. They'll still go in, but the 33, it starts to get in that awkward range where a miss-hit might not go in. So you just have to keep getting consistent. So I think in the long-run it will be great for kickers. No you've got to be more consistent than ever. It will be good and add more value to kickers I think. So it's exciting."

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