ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — The practice looked like a normal NFL workout. There were just twice as many players on the fields at Missouri Western State University.
The Kansas City Chiefs and Arizona Cardinals split a pair of practice fields Tuesday, placing nearly 200 players out there at one time.
The joint practice came during Arizona’s three-day stint in St. Joseph between a preseason-opening loss Sunday to the Saints and Friday’s game at Arrowhead against Kansas City.
“We got to see a lot of different players in a lot of situations,” Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “We had both fields going. I mean, 180 guys? That’s a lot of guys doing a lot of things.”
The two teams will share facilities for the next two days, but plan to work separately.
Neither team had held a training camp scrimmage or joint practice the past three years. Kansas City last scrimmaged with the Vikings in 2008 when the Chiefs still held their camp in River Falls, Wis. The Cardinals worked in Nashville, Tenn., with the Titans during that same preseason.
The teams worked individually to start on separate fields during walkthroughs and stretching.
From there, the Chiefs offense matched up with the Cardinals defense on one field and vice versa on the other. The teams went through individual drills and then 7-on-9, 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 scenarios, concluding with Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel and Arizona counterpart John Skelton leading the respective No. 1 offenses to field goals in a 2-minute-drill situation.
The workout in front of about 3,000 fans went off without a visible hitch and no sign of the scuffles that led many teams to move away from training camp scrimmages.
Conversations to bring the two teams together started more than a month ago.
Rather than fly back to Phoenix and drive to their training camp site in Flagstaff, Ariz., the Cardinals worked out a deal to stop in the Midwest following the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio. Staying in St. Joseph allowed the players and coach to minimize travel in the five-day turnaround between games.
The practice with the Chiefs simply added to an unusual preseason, which the players embraced as a chance to avoid camp’s monotony.
“It almost feels like you get like an extra preseason game again, which for us seems like a lot this year,” Arizona guard Daryn Colledge said. “It’s good. It’s nice not having to lean on our own guys; it’s nice to get a different look; it’s nice to add a little bit of variety.
“It offers us an opportunity to get better.”
Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel said he would remain open to similar arrangements in the future.
The right scenario would have to play out again, and Crennel doesn’t see enough added to benefit to seek out a practice partner in future years. He didn’t plan to put any more emphasis on this practice over the others, although both coaches were happy with an increased tempo and competitiveness shown.
“This is going to be lumped into the practice tape,” Crennel said. “Whatever day it is, it’s going to be ‘Tuesday pm practice.’ That’s where it will be put into the deal, and when they want to go see it, that’s where they’ll go.”
Arizona plans to stage a walkthrough Wednesday morning and hold an indoor practice separate from the Chiefs in the afternoon inside Western’s Griffon Indoor Sports Complex.
From there, the Cardinals will leave town Thursday afternoon having seen very little of their Friday opponent.
Whisenhunt and Crennel initially planned to hold a pair of joint practices, but later agreed to the solo date. The coaches weren’t sure what effect seeing the opponent on the practice field three days before Friday’s game would have.
Undoubtedly, there were few secrets divulged.
“I was thinking about that out there today in practice,” Whisenhunt said. “I don’t think (it changes the approach). I think they’re focused on getting ready, not necessarily for the game against us, but getting ready for the season, as we are.”