KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Chiefs began their final week of voluntary workouts Tuesday, though you wouldn’t know they’ve been voluntary by the attendance.
Just about everyone has been at practice every day.
No holdouts, no drama.
Instead, the Chiefs under new coach Andy Reid have been busily installing their offense and defense, getting acclimated with each other and preparing for next week’s mandatory minicamp.
“The guys are working hard. They’ve come in with the right attitude,” Reid said. “We’ve thrown a lot at them offensively, defensively. The defense is blitzing like crazy; the offense is moving around. It’s great work on both sides.”
For the most part, progress has been plain to see.
When organized team activities began a couple weeks ago, Reid often was yelling at guys to pick up the pace. Quarterback Alex Smith looked like a traffic cop trying to get players into the right position, and more than once, Reid had to call everyone back to the huddle and start over.
Well, that’s no longer the case.
Practices are run with the kind of crisp efficiency that was lacking under Todd Haley two years ago and Romeo Crennel last season. When the air horn sounds to end a session, everyone has a clear idea of where they’re going and what they’re doing.
“We’ve got that wheel turning. It’s just a matter of keep running, keep going,” Smith said. “It’s a good feeling being in the middle of it, in the middle of football and back in the grind of things.”
Not every day has been perfect, of course. There was a reminder of that Tuesday.
Undrafted rookie Tyler Bray, who is competing with Ricky Stanzi for the No. 3 quarterback job, simply dropped a snap. A couple plays later, he threw an interception that middle linebacker Akeem Jordan would have taken untouched for a touchdown had it been a game.
Backup quarterback Chase Daniel also put a snap on the ground from rookie center Eric Kush.
Smith hasn’t been immune to problems, either.
He threw a pass high and behind Jamaal Charles, which ricocheted off the running back’s hands, and was fortunate it landed on the grass. But then Smith also came back to hit Dwayne Bowe in tight coverage for a touchdown.
Indeed, even Bowe’s performances have been refreshing.
He’s still catching everything thrown his way, just as he has in the past. But it also seems that he’s found the swagger that’s been missing the last couple of years — that bravado that made him fun to watch and aggravating to cover during his first few seasons in the league.
The Chiefs have also started to nail down some of their personnel.
Special teams coach Dave Toub said Tuesday that running back Knile Davis and safety Quintin Demps were getting a tryout at kick returner, and Dexter McCluster is back returning punts after shying away from the duty the past couple of seasons.
Tight end Demetrius Harris made several nice catches in Tuesday’s workout as he continues to make an early push for a roster spot. Harris hasn’t played organized football since high school, instead spending his college years playing basketball for Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
The Chiefs signed him as an undrafted free agent, and he’s already made such an impression that many wonder whether injured tight end Tony Moeaki’s job may be slipping away.
“My teammates have confidence to keep throwing me the ball,” Harris said with a shrug. “I just got to keep this confidence coming into practice.”
Confidence is one thing that the Chiefs don’t seem to be lacking.
Even though they haven’t strapped on shoulder pads, or lined up against a team wearing a different helmet, there’s an unmistakable sense of optimism in Kansas City.
That 2-14 season is a memory. The focus is purely on the future.
“There are a lot of little things that determine whether you’re going to be an average team or a good team,” Reid said. “Normally those little things, that’s what counts, but normally those are the things that the players will back away from. ‘OK, I’ve got the route, but what are the intricacies of that route?’ ‘I’ve got the coverage, but exactly how does that tie in with my linebacker or safety or whatever it might be?’
“They’re concentrating on that and they’re working on that very well,” Reid said. “From a coaching standpoint, that’s all you can ask for.”