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  • FOOTBALL

    Chiefs get physical

  • ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — Clark Hunt couldn't help but cringe Monday as he watched Pro Bowl running back Jamaal Charles, two years removed from major knee surgery, haul himself up from a soggy practice field.
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  • ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — Clark Hunt couldn't help but cringe Monday as he watched Pro Bowl running back Jamaal Charles, two years removed from major knee surgery, haul himself up from a soggy practice field.
    The Chiefs' chairman dropped by Missouri Western State University to see his team practice through intermittent showers, and was forced to join the rest of his team in learning exactly what practice is like under Andy Reid.
    There's going to be plenty of hitting, even four days into training camp.
    "I will say there a few times out there where you hold your breath," Hunt said after ducking under a tent to escape the rain, "and you hope the back or receiver pops back up."
    All of them did on this day, although safety Eric Berry left with a minor hamstring injury that was unrelated to the tackling. But the physical nature of the workout nearly two weeks out from the Chiefs' first preseason game is certainly a departure from the norm in Kansas City.
    Two years ago, Todd Haley had the Chiefs playing the equivalent of two-hand touch throughout training camp, and the result was a team woefully unprepared for the start of the season.
    Hugging was preferred over tackling under Romeo Crennel last season.
    Well, all of that is out the window with Reid, who promised during the hands-off offseason program that, well, the gloves would come off when training camp rolled around.
    During his time with the Eagles, Reid preferred to hit hard early in training camp and then taper off as the regular season approached. The idea was to toughen up the team early on, and then give them time to heal before the start of a 16-game grind.
    Raiders
    There's no arguing that Josh Cribbs will go down as one of the top special teams players in NFL history. He already shares the record for career kickoff return touchdowns and has done pretty well as a punt returner over the years.
    One of the Oakland Raiders' most significant offseason acquisitions, Cribbs can still get down the field with the best of them. He was fourth in the league in kickoff return average in 2012 and was sixth in punt returns.
    Cribbs might also be one of the only return men in the league who doubles on coverage units — and that's something Oakland coach Dennis Allen fully intends to exploit.
    That's perfectly fine with the 30-year-old Cribbs, who relishes making tackles on special teams as much as he does getting into the end zone.
    It's a combination the Raiders couldn't pass up when they inked the Cribbs to a one-year contract worth slightly more than the veteran's minimum.
    "He's excellent in all phases of special teams, not just as a return man," Allen said. "I think that's what makes a guy like him so valuable."
    Cribbs has proven his value ever since entering the league as an undrafted free agent in 2005.
    He has scored on at least one return in all but two of his eight seasons and has 11 touchdowns on returns for his career. Eight have come on kickoffs, tying Seattle's Leon Washington for most in NFL history.
    Cribbs has another nine touchdowns on offense, including seven as a wide receiver.
    The Raiders just want him to focus on special teams. Anything beyond that would be a plus.
    Oakland signed Cribbs even though he had offseason surgery to repair the meniscus in his left knee. Cribbs missed the Raiders' minicamp in June as a result.
    The injury led some teams to shy away from pursuing the return specialist. Jets general manager John Idzik, whose team brought Cribbs in for a physical in the offseason, told reporters he didn't think Cribbs' knee had fully healed yet.
    Those comments irked Cribbs, who noted the Raiders play in New York on Dec. 8.
    "I'm going to keep (my thoughts) to myself," Cribbs said. "It's all fun and games, but when the lights are put on, I'll remember what he said."
    Redskins
    During a 7-on-7 drill in shorts at Washington Redskins training camp, Robert Griffin III rolled left and couldn't find an open receiver. He started to scramble, saw a lane and ran for 15 yards.
    Then he hit the turf, with typical RG3 flair. He performed a half-speed slide and rolled over to protect the ball.
    The crowd went wild. It was perhaps the biggest cheer he's heard for any play yet during camp.
    "I just thought everybody would love it if I just slid in practice for once," Griffin said. "And I went ahead and did that. I find it easier to slide in football pants than shorts. It was a little harder, but I slid and everybody liked it."
    Falcons
    Roddy White knows better than most how the Atlanta Falcons' expectations have changed.
    White, a first-round pick in 2005, launched his NFL career when Atlanta had never managed back-to-back winning seasons. Only one Atlanta receiver, Andre Rison, had posted three straight 1,000-yard seasons.
    It's a new era in Atlanta. The Falcons are working to extend a streak of five straight winning seasons. A major reason for the success is White, whose active streak of six straight 1,000-yard seasons has doubled Rison's previous team record.
    Anything short of a repeat trip to the NFC championship game will be a disappointment. Anything less than 1,000 yards from White would be a letdown.
    White said the bar has been raised from his first years in Atlanta.
    "We've changed faces around here, we've taken off and haven't looked back," White said Sunday. "We've had a lot of success. We've won a lot of games and had a lot of great moments. We've set the expectations bar very high around here, and every year we've got to live up to it."
    Former Falcons standout cornerback Deion Sanders, now an analyst for NFL Network, said while watching practice Monday that White is "the standard" for Atlanta receivers.
    White has not missed a game in his eight seasons, and Sanders said that gives emerging star Julio Jones an important example to follow.
    White, 31, caught 92 passes for 1,351 yards and seven touchdowns in 2012 as the Falcons finished 13-3 in the regular season and advanced to the NFC championship game. He is only the fifth NFL player to post three consecutive seasons with 90-plus catches and 1,200-plus yards.
    Eagles
    Donovan McNabb's voice cracked and his eyes watered when he stood at the podium to give his retirement speech.
    Famously booed when he was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1999, McNabb couldn't hide the tears when he called it quits 14 years later. The six-time Pro Bowl quarterback was back in Philadelphia on Monday to make it official, three years after he was traded from the Eagles and 21 months after taking his final snap in the NFL.
    "Special day," McNabb said. "I'm not one for emotion, but this is pretty tough."
    Before McNabb even took the stage, team owner Jeffrey Lurie revealed that his No. 5 will be retired on Sept. 19.
    "The No. 5 has become synonymous with one of the greatest eras of Eagles football," Lurie said. "And ensuring that no one else will ever wear Donovan's number, we honor one of the greatest playmakers to ever wear an Eagles uniform."
    McNabb will be inducted into the team's Hall of Fame and have his jersey retired on Sept. 19 when the Eagles play the Kansas City Chiefs on a Thursday night.
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