Day One Minicamp Recap: Jamaal Charles Takes the Field

News and notes from the first day of minicamp

The biggest news of the day was that the all-time Kansas City Chiefs leading rusher, Jamaal Charles, returned to the field on Tuesday for the first time since his season-ending injury back in Week 5 of last season. 

Charles, who underwent knee surgery from a torn ACL back in October, participated in warmups and went through individual drills as the Chiefs held their first day of minicamp.

It had been 247 days since Charles was on the field for the Chiefs.

Here's a list of who did not practice on Tuesday:

  • OL Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (sick)
  • TE Travis Kelce (sick)
  • LB Justin Houston (knee)
  • CB Shannon Edwards (hamstring)
  • CB D.J. White (hamstring)
  • LB Tamba Hali (knee)
  • WR Mike Williams (hamstring)

It was also announced on Tuesday afternoon that linebacker Justin March (knee) and tight end James O' Shaughnessy (foot) passed their physicals and are good to go moving forward. Both players finished last season on injured reserve.

PLAYS OF NOTE

On the final play of practice, tight end Brian Parker may have made the best play of the day. As he came across the middle, Parker went up and caught the pass with one hand and secured it as he turned up the field. It drew applause from everyone on the field.

If Parker's play ranks as the best of the day, second-year cornerback Steve Nelson's comes in at a close second. On a pass intended for O' Shaughnessy, Nelson completely laid out across the middle and was able to break up the intended pass.

Marcus Peters had a nice pass breakup on Jeremy Maclin, who had the ball in his hands and was attempting to secure it before Peters, who had a hand in there, was able to force it out of Maclin's hands.

Linebacker Justin March made a great play to beat the would-be block on a pass designed for the running back out in the flat.

Cornerback Marcus Cooper had a pick-6 against Tyler Bray during team drills.

Tight end Ross Travis, who has consistently been making plays all across the field this offseason, made another big play as he took a pass down the middle from Tyler Bray more than 40 yards for the touchdown.

Alex Smith hooked up with running back Spencer Ware on a beautiful over-the-shoulder catch-and-throw down the right sideline for a huge gain early in 11-on-11 drills.

Here's what we learned from QB Alex Smith and DB Daniel Sorensen during Tuesday's media availability:

QB ALEX SMITH

**

Karen Kornacki (KMBC): **How different is minicamp – as far as intensity – than OTAs?

SMITH: "To be honest, not much different at all. In a sense, the day is longer. So we get to have a walkthrough, get to be in meetings a little longer, there's less restrictions as far as the amount of time we can be on the field. Essentially it's a lengthened OTA, we're just in helmets. So really, the practice tempo is the same. You do know that this is it for offseason work, spring ball, so to speak. But other than that, the tempo is the same as an OTA."

TJ Carpenter (Sports Radio 810 WHB):Have you ever had an opportunity to call plays at any level in your career?* *

SMITH: "I've never had the opportunity to call huddle plays on my own. In some instances, two-minute, occasionally you can go as a quarterback – I've been in situations like that. Certainly a lot of places I have had the freedom to get to plays at the line of scrimmage, get out of plays, things like that. But never like back in the day where you just call your own offense, no."

Carpenter:Do you think there's an advantage in the two-minute offense for a quarterback to call his own plays?

SMITH: "No. I don't, I don't think you operate any faster. In some ways, it's hard to operate like that, because, as a quarterback – at least for me – I'm playing a game, I'm just trying to execute a play. I'm not necessarily thinking about, it would be weird to switch all of the sudden – 'These guys play these defenses in two-minute situation and we should get to these plays.' To have the time to get to think like that, to play that chess match would be hard. I'm not saying some guys couldn't do it. I wouldn't want that."

Carpenter:So you think there's a benefit in having someone else do all that?

SMITH: "I think you're getting in a better play, and I don't think you're operating any faster."

Adam Teicher (ESPN):After this week, what are you up to until training camp?

SMITH: "It's a unique time, you're out for the summer. For me, it's going to be spending time with my family. Obviously here before the season kicks in, there will be a little travel. But certainly you're still working out, you're still throwing. We put a lot of work in at this point, so you really try to keep that going, maintain that up until training camp. Especially the throwing aspect for a quarterback. This has been good offseason work, as far as getting arms in shape and a little bit to keep that going, to maintain that, you wouldn't want to not throw this entire time and then come back to training camp."

Teicher:Who is your receiver?

SMITH: "Anyone and everyone. The full gamut."

Teicher:Is your wife out there catching passes?* *

SMITH: "Occasionally. No, but certainly I recruit friends, certainly high school kids, college (or) if you're around other pro guys you ask them to come out. I do not discriminate this time of year."

Teicher:How much throwing do you do in an average day?

SMITH: "Probably different every time depending on how you feel and maybe how much you've thrown prior to that. Certainly you're trying to get a few in a week. It doesn't have to be a ton, like I said, just to maintain, but enough. You want to go out there and try to get a few different throws in. Obviously continue to stay in shape, to run, to workout, things like that as well."

Teicher:If life is ever normal for you throughout the course of a year, is this the time that's closest to normal?

SMITH: "Not sure what normal (is). It's certainly time off. Like I said, a little more here. Obviously training camp date is getting closer and closer, so you're certainly, like I said, the workouts are at a higher premium than they would be in March because you know that this is getting closer and closer. But certainly it's time off, it's summer, I'm with my family. But at the same time, I'm doing a lot of that as well."

Teicher:At training camp, how long does it take to get back to where you are at the end of this week?

SMITH: "I love the way we do it here with quarterbacks. Quarterbacks report early with the rookies and it's a great couple of days. I think at that point, you've really shaken off any rust you maybe have had. It's not much that accumulates in this time. We've got a lot of reps in here in this offseason. You get a little time off, you come back and usually it only takes a day or two to kind of get back in the rhythm of things. And I do really enjoy coming in with the rookies. It's nice, as a quarterback, that by the time the vets come in, we're really kind of rocking and rolling, ready to go."

Teicher:Why do you like that time there?

SMITH: "Just for that. You're totally ready to roll once the vets come in. Usually the numbers are down, so it's not quite the intensity or the workload, so it's kind of that perfect happy medium of building to real training camp practices."

Teicher:Also because it gets you out of stuff at home?

SMITH: "No, I didn't mean it like that. Like I said, honestly, just from a pure arm – that little bit of rest that you do collect over the five, six weeks off – you get a chance to get that off before everybody comes in."

Bob Gretz (Topeka Capital-Journal):How do you think the new faces have adapted so far?

SMITH: "I think we've had a great offseason. Got a ton of work in, stayed healthy – knock on wood. That's what this is about a little bit, this time of year, just accumulating reps. We don't have pads on, this isn't 100 percent real football – a little bit of a passing camp, so to speak, it's hard to do a lot of the run game. There is the physical side of the game, even for skill players – receivers and stuff – there is an element that's not present as well without pads. Those guys, when we do get the pads on, we'll really get to see what it's all about. But it's good work. Like I said, I think we got a ton of reps, our defense gives us a lot to prepare for, a lot to handle. And I think the more they give us there to kind of work out, the more we're discussing things, the more problems you do get ironed out."

Gretz:Have the new faces picked things up pretty well mentally?

SMITH: "Certainly offensively, I think the young guys we've had have done a great job with the workload, with the mental workload. It's common for those rookies, I think, to struggle with it. And certainly our guys have – a credit to them and the coaches – have done a great job really being able to handle a lot of different stuff. The volume this offseason, we've thrown a lot at guys."

Gretz:When you hit the field, are you seeing fewer deer-in-the-headlight looks?

SMITH: "Certainly, less and less. The more those guys get comfortable, not only with the plays book and mentally, but also how they stack up physically versus the NFL guys. It's good, those guys gain confidence. You can see it."

Carpenter:What's the next step for Chris Conley? He's saying he feels more comfortable this year.

SMITH: "I certainly don't want to put any pressure on him, but for me as a young player, I think it's the freedom that you're handed all that stuff as a young guy and I think the problem – it certainly was for me – you overthink. You're thinking about too many things instead of playing football and winning. It took a while to get to the point for me that you're like 'Let's just go out and win.' You get coached up on all your technique and plays and this and that. But a lot of times, things break down, things happen, you just have to go out there and make a play. So I think for young players, as they get in their second or third year, being comfortable is just going out and playing fast and not being restricted by your own self and what you're thinking about and your technique and things like that."

Terez Paylor (Kansas City Star):What are some areas of improvement you've seen from Chris Conley and Albert Wilson throughout this camp? Have you noticed that Jeremy Maclin has rubbed off on them at all?

SMITH: "Oh yeah, for sure. I think without question Mac's influence has rubbed off on that entire room on two fronts. I think one, the attention to detail, how much he thinks about little things, asking questions in installation. And then the route running, all that, the work ethic, how he attacks guys and things like that. Certainly with those guys, with Chris, you've really kind of seen it in him getting confidence in how good he is physically – how big and fast and strong he is. And using that as a tool in really playing big and physical. I certainly have seen steps this offseason to really see him get after guys and use that. With Albert, it's nice, we've moved him around a little bit this offseason, putting him in different situations, moving him inside more. So that's been a new role for him. That's a big plate there when you move inside, that's a lot on your shoulders – especially mentally – and he's handled it. Been good there, too."

Teicher:Have you been in contact at all with Eric Berry?

SMITH: "I haven't talked to him in a while. So I don't totally know what's going on in that front."

BJ Kissel (Chiefs.com):What's unique about this collection of talent at the skill positions as far as what you can do with them out on the field?

SMITH: "I don't totally want to get into comparing, it's hard to years past. I think we have a lot of guys with a lot of different talents. I think we've had a lot of carryover from years past here, so a lot of guys offensively that have been in the system and are very comfortable with how we do things. Yeah, we have a lot of guys with a lot of different tools. (It's) really a matter of getting them on the field and being able to exploit all those."

S DANIEL SORENSEN

**

Gretz: **On his plans for the break before training camp:

SORENSEN: "A lot of traveling. Probably a lot of time with family."

Kennetra Pulliams (Time Warner Cable Sports Channel):Is there more emphasis on retention this week?

SORENSEN: "You know what, the focus is to go out there and take quality reps and to have a productive practice. It takes some effort during the offseason to retain some of this information and some of the things that we've learned. But the focus is to go out there and to put in the work."

Gretz:Because of the practice restrictions, as cover guys on special teams, can you get anything done?

SORENSEN: "Oh we can get a lot done. We can get a lot done during this time."

Gretz:Like what? As a cover guy, what can you get done without hitting someone?

SORENSEN: "There's a lot more to it than just hitting somebody. There's a lot of angles, there's a lot of technique, there's a lot of awareness, spacing, where your guys are at in respect to the returner and things like that. There's a lot of quality stuff. And our coaches do a good job of getting that out of us with those restrictions."

Michael Coleman (KCTV5):Can you talk about the competition in the secondary?

SORENSEN: "Yeah, we've got a good group and I think the talent level across the board is really high. Guys are competing and making plays and it's fun to watch."

Teicher:Do you feel like you've benefitted from getting those base defense snaps that you may not have gotten if Eric Berry was here?

SORENSEN: "Yeah, every rep that you get is a benefit. It's just an opportunity to get better and to hone in on your technique. I'm taking advantage of some of those extra reps that maybe I'm getting now."

Herbie Teope (Topeka Capital-Journal):The defensive back group is tight-knit; as a group, how much have you been in touch with Eric Berry?* *

SORENSEN: "I personally haven't been in touch with him, so I can't speak to that. But there is definitely a tight group in there."

Shawn Rooney (Dos Mundos):In what ways do you sense his presence in that unit even though he's not here?

SORENSEN: "He's been our leader and set a standard, I should say, for practice and for our meeting rooms. That's something that we carry on. We talk about a culture, and he's somebody that you can look to who establishes a culture in the secondary. That aspect, he's very present with the standard and role that he's had."

Carpenter:Is the study work for you more than it is for some of the other players because you have to do multiple things?* *Do you have more to pick up and retain in the playbook?

SORENSEN: "More than other guys? I wouldn't say (that). Everybody has a lot on their plate, top-to-bottom. There's always something that you could be studying and being in the books. I would assume guys study just as hard as I do."

Kissel:How hard is it going to be for you to retain your crown over Frank Zombo as special team's points leader?

SORENSEN: "It might change this year. No, we've got a good group of guys, we've got a lot of our core guys back. It'll be a fun competition. It'll definitely be a close one, I think, this year."

Pete Sweeney (Chiefs.com):Through OTAs, what type of progress would you say the defensive backs have made? What were you guys able to accomplish?

SORENSEN: "I think we've got a lot of young players in the room and bringing them along has probably been the biggest thing that we've accomplished, catching them up to speed. Top-to-bottom we have a lot of youth in there. We lost some key veterans from last year who had a lot of experience. So it's now catching those guys up to the level we played at last year, which was a very high level. That's the standard, to bring some of these younger guys up and, myself included, to be at that level."

Sweeney:How has it been to take that role to where you're helping the younger guys out?

SORENSEN: "Yeah, it has been different. I was the guy trying to learn from some of these older guys – Husain (Abdullah) and Tyvon Branch. It's our responsibility to kind of pass along the things that we've learned, especially in this system and how we run things. They're doing a great job of catching on and learning."

Gretz:Does it sometimes boggle your mind that recently you were hoping to get one rep and now you're getting multiple reps?

SORENSEN: "Right, yeah, it wasn't that long ago."

Gretz:What's that feeling like for those young guys when they're just trying to get on the field?

SORENSEN: "It's probably a lot of anxiety and anxiousness to get on the field to get a rep in. You just have to make every rep that you get count."

Gretz:How did you handle that?

SORENSEN: "Just when you have an opportunity, to make the most of it. That's hustling, running to the ball even though you make a mistake, you still do it hard and you still do it fast."

Rooney:Now that you're getting reps, are the butterflies going away?

SORENSEN: "You kind of settle in and feel a little more comfortable. You're able to focus on more things other than the nerves and your assignment."

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