ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — By the time the Chiefs wrapped up practice last week and headed to their preseason opener in Arizona, it was no surprise that players had grown weary of beating up each other.
That was perfectly fine with Andy Reid.
He’d rather have them beat up each other than someone else — and vice versa.
Reid said Wednesday that he has never conducted a joint practice in training camp, going back to his 14 years in Philadelphia. And while the scrimmages have become increasingly popular across the NFL, Reid insisted he has no intention of changing his mind.
“Had a lot of opportunities to do it,” he said, “but probably from a selfish standpoint, in today’s world, with technology, there’s not a lot of secrets. You have your coaching points, teaching points — you try to teach on the field — and I really don’t want anyone hearing that. That’s my own personal feeling. As much as I can keep in house in today’s world, I want to do.”
Reid acknowledged the benefits of practicing against other teams.
For one thing, players may put more effort into a workout if the player lining up across from them is wearing a different jersey. There is also a benefit to the other team not knowing what your team is doing, which better simulates a game situation.
Yet in Reid’s mind, those benefits don’t outweigh the drawbacks: squandering a bit of proprietary information; the potential for scuffles such as the ones that erupted between the Rams and Cowboys; and the increased likelihood of an injury before the season.
“Sometimes,” Reid said, “things get a little out of hand, and things happen.”
Still, half the teams in the NFL decided it was worth the risk this year. Among others, the Redskins and Texans met for a three-day session that was caught on film as part of HBO’s “Hard Knocks” series, and the Patriots and Saints were meeting this week in West Virginia.
Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith was involved in several joint practices when he was with San Francisco, and the 49ers would work out with Bay Area neighbor Oakland in nearby Napa.
“By the end of camp, we know each other so well,” he explained. “(The defense) has seen plays a handful of times, so you get unrealistic things — guys jumping. It’s not necessarily the case in real football. ... At the same time, it’s been part of it that you get side stuff going on. You get a lot of talking, a lot of jabbing.”
Never a punch, though. At least not in his direction.
“QBs were always off limits,” he said.
The Chiefs were actually among the first teams to conduct joint practices, and even had one with the Cardinals prior to the 2012 season — the last year before Reid’s arrival.
In that case, the Cardinals played in the Hall of Fame game in Ohio, then were scheduled to play in Kansas City five days later. So to cut down on travel time, the teams agreed to share the Chiefs’ training complex at Missouri Western, with then-coach Romeo Crennel labeling it a chance to evaluate his team “under a different set of circumstances.”
Veteran linebacker Derrick Johnson was a member of that team, and said he appreciated an opportunity to hit someone else after weeks of training camp monotony.
“It gives you a little energy to go against another team,” he said.
Reid believes there are enough of those opportunities in four preseason games. That’s a big reason he shudders when some pundits — often citing injury risks — propose trimming the exhibition games to three or even two, even though starters rarely play in the last of them.
“One of the benefits of having preseason games is you get to see these guys play, in front of a crowd, the lights are on. It’s another step besides practice,” Reid said. “If they gave us three, I’d be able to work that, but you don’t want to lose them all, I don’t think.”
Only then might he change his mind about joint practices.
NOTES: OLs Eric Fisher (ankle) and Jeff Allen (knee), QB Tyler Bray (knee), LB Justin March (knee) and DT Dontari Poe (back) are among those who will not play Friday night against Seattle. WR De’Anthony Thomas, LB Josh Mauga and S Sanders Commings are questionable. ... Reid will play his No. 1 offense and defense the entire first half. The reserves will play the second.