Contact & Conditioning … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs

“I don’t want a yo-yo team and I don’t want yo-yo players. I really want to be the same every day. If we get fractionally better each day, or each week, then we’ll be OK.” Chiefs head coach Todd Haley

River Falls, Wisconsin

The question comes frequently in e-mails and phone messages, from Chiefs fans everywhere, from family, friends and acquaintances:

How is Chiefs training camp different this year than the past?

I’m not sure five nights in the northwoods is a big enough sample, but there are some very obvious differences with what’s going on around this team right now.

That there would be changes was a given considering the alterations at the top of the football operation with GM Scott Pioli and head coach Todd Haley. These guys share a foundation in how they look at football and those that play the game and that stone has the name Bill Parcels inscribed on it.

Thus, the practices in the current training camp are much more physical than anything that’s gone down with the team under Herm Edwards, Dick Vermeil or even Gunther Cunningham. The tone, tenor and length of Haley’s practices call to mind Marty Schottenheimer; it’s the closest comparison to what is taking place at UW-River Falls.

There is nobody still on the roster from the Marty days. There’s only one player on the roster from the Gunter days: LG Brian Waters. And amazingly, there are only three others besides Waters still around from the Vermeil Era: Larry Johnson, Monty Beisel and Dustin Colquitt.

That’s why it’s the NFL, the Not For Long league.

Thus, I can’t provide first-hand commentary from those who lived through the Chiefs training camp workouts over the years. But take it from somebody who has not missed a Chiefs training camp in 29 years: things are different and the changes can be broken down into three major areas: contact, conditioning and dealing with players.

Today we’ll talk about the first two. On Wednesday, we’ll cover dealing with players.


The question was put to Haley: has there been a lot of contact in this camp so far?

“I’d say so,” said Haley.”

There was a time when training camp practices were filled with contact drills, where players went just a step slower than full speed, and bodies crashed into other bodies. Always the quarterback was off-limits, but everybody else needed to make sure to buckle up their chinstrap.

Over the last decade the amount of contact in NFL camps dropped considerably. It’s a by-product of the salary cap and league rules on injured-reserve and the number of players that a team can take to training camp. Gone are the days when over 100 players were on the pre-camp roster. Now there are 80; in the past with NFL Europe exemptions there was a chance to get a few more, but that opportunity is now gone.

The linemen on both sides of the ball see the most contact, but in recent years the intensity of that work has dropped as well. Repetitions have been cut, practices are shorter and there have been fewer where the players wore full pads. That’s defined as football pants and shoulder pads.

Contact is back in the Chiefs ‘09 camp. It’s not nearly to the level of the “olden days” but every time the team has worn full pads, there has been at least one part of the session where it was full speed football. That usually has come in the goal line segments and there have been blows delivered. RB Larry Johnson got crunched in Saturday afternoon’s work, getting hit high and low by defensive teammates.

Two years ago, that type of tackle would have started a pushing match. This year, Johnson pushed himself off the ground and went back to the huddle. There have been one or two plays like that every day. During Monday morning’s workout, OLB Tamba Hali was providing defensive run support and splattered pulling RG Mike Goff. There’s probably a difference of at least 40 pounds between the players, but the smaller guy won the contact battle that time.

Even Monday afternoon when the players were not in full pads, the one-on-one work between the defensive and offensive line was intense.

Haley believes this is the way it has to be.

“It’s such a short amount of time here,” the coach said. “We will have the pads on every day, until we think we know enough. We have to get ready in a short amount of time and the only way to get ready for football, in my opinion, is with the pads on. ”


I can say this without any equivocation: this is the 33rd NFL training camp that I’ve covered and the ‘09 Chiefs are the runningest football team I’ve ever seen.

Haley ran and ran and ran his players during the off-season program. He promised them he wasn’t going to stop. So far, he’s held true to his word.

Every practice has some element involved that is done not only for football, but for conditioning. That’s why the team has lost more than 750 pounds since the start of their off-season program. By the time they leave River Falls, that total will easily soar past 800 pounds.

All this is about being prepared for the fourth quarter and for late in the season. It’s also designed to keep players in better shape, and thus cut down the number of injuries. There’s no question this group is slim and trim for a football team. In fact, the only place in River Falls where bellys hanging over belts can be found is at whatever bar the media horde is drinking at that night. Haley said they’ve not yet totaled up the lost body fat for the squad, but that figures to be another number through the roof.

Haley said on Monday that he would have had this team running no matter what he had found when he took over. But watching the tapes of the 2008 season just convinced him even more that conditioning was going to be important.

The running has drawn grumbles from some of the older players. They won’t go on the record so we won’t repeat their comments here. The one guy who did say something was RT Damion McIntosh, who talked about not being part of a cross country team, but a football team.

What Haley wants is a highly conditioned football team that can fight off injuries and have the No. 1 ability that any player can show in the NFL: availability.

“I want guys that want to be here practicing every day, that I can count on and are the same guy every day,” Haley said. “I don’t really care if they are great.

“These guys need to be the same guy every day … I don’t want a yo-yo team and I don’t want yo-yo players. I really want to be the same every day. If we get fractionally better each day, or each week, then we’ll be OK. But when one day you are superstar and the next day you can’t walk and chew gum, that’s when you get frustrated.”

The 2009 Chiefs would never walk and chew gum. They would have to run. Whether they chewed the gum would be another matter.


  • BENGALS – TE Reggie Kelly suffered an Achilles tendon injury during a Monday practice and is out for six months.
  • BILLS – The NFL denied an appeal by RB Marshawn Lynch and he will have to serve his full three-game suspension handed down to him by the Commissioner for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.
  • BRONCOS – signed first-round draft choice Robert Ayers; LB Nick Greisen suffered a leg injury in a Monday practice.
  • BUCCANEERS – signed G Ryan Schmidt; released G Maurice Miller.
  • FALCONS – veteran WR Roddy White continues to holdout of camp; he has one season remaining o n his contract.
  • EAGLES – agreed to terms with first-round draft choice WR Jeremy Maclin; MLB Stuart Bradley suffered a torn ACL during a Sunday night practice; reportedly he’s done for the season.
  • GIANTS – WR Plaxico Burress was indicted by a New York grand jury on three felony charges resulting from the incident late last year where he carried a handgun into a New York bar and accidentally shot himself in the leg. All three of the charges have mandatory sentences if he’s convicted.
  • PANTHERS – LB Jon Beason and DT Ma’ake Kemoeatu both left practice Monday with injuries; Beason is a hamstring and Kemoeatu suffered a torn Achilles tendon and is likely done for the season.
  • PATRIOTS – signed QB Andrew Walter; released QB Matt Gutierrez.


Born on August 4, 1927 in Tomball, Texas was DT Ray Collins. He was a member of the original Dallas Texans, playing two seasons with the franchise (1960-61) at the end of his career. Collins came out of LSU and played in three seasons (1950-52) with San Francisco and one season (1954) with the New York Giants. He had been out of football for six years when he signed with the Texans. Collins played in 27 games for Hank Stram.

Born on August 4, 1940 in Tarboro, North Carolina was DE Bill Hull. He joined the Dallas Texans for the 1962 season out of Wake Forest, appearing in 14 games. That was Hull’s only season in pro football.

Born on August 4, 1978 in Pittsburg, California was S Shaunard Harts
(left). He was a seventh-round selection in the 2001 NFL Draft out of Boise State. Harts played four seasons (2001-04) with the Chiefs, appearing in 51 games with 17 starts. He finished with two interceptions.

37 Responses to “Contact & Conditioning … Tuesday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • August 4, 2009  - Contact & Conditioning (Bob Gretz) says:

    [...] Contact & Conditioning (Bob Gretz) [...]

  • August 4, 2009  - findthedr says:

    I’m pretty sure Vermiel’s practices were long and hard. There were numerous old players (Roaf, Shields, and holmes) who insinuated that those practices cut their nfl lifespan (i.e. wore out the tread on their tires).

    It might just seem otherwise after 3yrs of Herm.

  • August 4, 2009  - aPauled says:

    Funny that D-Mac is the guy complaining about running. No matter how much conditioning the Chiefs do, D-Mac will have a belly rolling down his legs. Haley may actually extend this guy’s career if he can get in reasonable shape to play RT.

  • August 4, 2009  - Jim Lloyd+ says:

    This sound’s like old time Marine boot camp on Parris Island , back in the late 50’s & early 60’s it wasn’t unheard of for a platoon to lose 1 or 2 guy’s ,DOA’s.
    When you came out you weren’t just tough–more like mean and looking for a fight.
    There was a lot of running and marching , that was before any heat index’s called you off those asfault field’s.

    There was a lot of heat rashes-heat strokes-and drop out’s. If you went to the infimraey or said something you could get set back 2 week’s ,that would turn your 13 into 15 .
    Set backs that your platoon got were gone soon , either back more or out.
    The player’s that say their cond. cut thier career’s are not including their off time cond.–none!!!!
    I know two , over 70 year’s old , EX Navy Seals that are in good shape today ( one ride’s a bike at least 25 mile’s a day & some time’s over 100.)

  • August 4, 2009  - SG says:

    “Funny that D-Mac is the guy complaining about running.”

    This is evidence of why the Brain Trust’s inactivity during the FA period was problematic. If we had any depth at OT, then this guy could be benched or cut. As it is, D-Mac apparently is the “best we have.” Maybe I’m the only fan that worries about such things.

  • August 4, 2009  - Ozarks says:

    When you conduct hard, physical practices, there will be injuries. So far it looks like the team is relatively healthy. Before you say hurrah for the pad cracking, consider your response when a front line starter is injured. It’s a fine line. Here’s hoping that they get their work done without any major injuries.

  • August 4, 2009  - Dan says:

    Way to go Haley! It is about time they get into shape and be ready! Sometimes these players who don’t take their JOB act like preschoolers!!! I wish Haley would ask them how they feel about being a Walmart greeter!!!! They are professional football players. Take pride in yourself. Now if Haley can use staff to create game plans (both offense, defense, and special teams) to get another edge!

  • August 4, 2009  - Scott D says:

    The greatest preventer of injuries - tho we all know there will be some - is being in good shape. There is a balance to be certain. But if I were wanting to be a pro player in this league, I’d want to do whatever it takes to be available on Sunday.

    Also, this whining about phyisical conditioning just rings hollow in my ears, coming from guys who make a lot of money to entertain us. Guys that are firefighters and rescue workers make immeasurably less $$ but put many of these “athletes” to shame when it comes to physical condition.

  • August 4, 2009  - jimbo says:

    Come December, every surviving member of the KC Chiefs will be proud of their accomplishments.
    The current pissing & moaning will be but a faint memory for these guys when the team is chasing down a playoff spot.
    From Scott Pioli all the way down to the gatorade guys it will feel good to be a Chiefs fan again.
    “Pride & Punishment” a little extra work & sacrifice in the beginning will be rewarded in the end. No more losers on Todd Haleys football field.
    I don’t know about the rest of you guys, but I’ve been ready to say this again for a long time…

    “Hale(y) to the Chiefs”….

  • August 4, 2009  - Z says:

    I believe Mr. President deserves a ‘Happy Birthday’ as well!

  • August 4, 2009  - Seth says:

    Based on some of the comments from McIntosh, he very quickly needs attitude adjustment. If that doesn’t happen Pioli would be looking for a new RT in next years draft.
    Waters is a Pro Bowl Guard I don’t see him complaining albeit his differences with the current staff. Now I see why he was one of the first guys Bill Parcells got rid off when he took over the Dolphins.
    Mr.Damion could soon be looking for a job.

  • August 4, 2009  - anonymous says:

    LOL, Check out these two pics out.

    You KNOW McIntosh was embarrassed!
    I look for Belcher to make some noise in this LBer corps.

    Can any one tell me who the F this guy is? He’s always shadowing Haley. Looks like an old school NSA guy to me. LOL

  • August 4, 2009  - Johnfromfairfax says:

    It’s difficult to argue with the new staff’s training demands when you only won 2 games last year and 4 the year before. If the team won 10 or more games each of those years we wouldn’t have a new staff and these changes wouldn’t be happening. what’s happening shows the new staff’s opinion of the team they inherited and only confirms what many of us had already witnessed. The Chiefs have been “not ready for prime time players” for the past few years. It’s going to take a total change in approach and mindset to rectify that. Frankly, I would be more concerned if these changes weren’t occurring. I applaud the efforts thus far and look forward to seeing the results when they start keeping score.

  • August 4, 2009  - Rin Tin Tin says:

    :Real Rin ® daddy-o sez -

    This n that: holdouts, running men & one play wonders…

    Day 5 of “The Fugitive - A SP Production!” Bet would just love to Ty one on about now.

    Today’s episode ‘Landscape With Running Figures’

    Speaking of yo yo’s, never liked them as a child…probably too complicated. He preferred to run…and chew gum…while playing golf… all at the same time, of course.

    He must have been a big fan of Ben Gazzara reruns (”Run For Your Life”)

    DE Bill Hull - one year wonder, more so one play. His interception off Oilers QB George Blanda the ‘AFL Championship Game’ of 1962 was to some THE biggest play in the game, though it does not get talked about as much as Haynes and his coin toss boner (no it’s not what you’re thinking, Scott.) Without it (the INT not the boner, Scott), Tom’s winning FG would not have been possible.

    Then Hull walked away…if had been the coach, Bill probably would have run (including himself out of the play); no INT, FG or WIN.

    Long live the AFL - when it was a game nee when pro football really mattered!

  • August 4, 2009  - anonymous says:

    Y’all rag on McIntosh, but I’m bettin’ he’s gonna have a much better season than he had last year.

    All this talk about him whining is BS imo, the damn guy has been at every ota and mini camp since day one. He knows he had a poor season and he’s working to rectify that. Yeah he’s probably gonna struggle with the speed rush outside, so you keep a back or TE in to give him a hand on passing downs.

    findthedr said it yesterday and I agree, I bet Roaf would have never passed that conditioning test!

    I like the way he’s committed himself to being a better RT.

  • August 4, 2009  - Blake says:

    Derrick Johnson was around when Vermeil was here, he was in the same draft as Colquitt.

  • August 4, 2009  - BigDad65 says:

    Ooorah, Jim Lloyd.

  • August 4, 2009  - findthedr says:

    Amani toomer has signed a 1yr deal with the chiefs:

    great move IMO.

    Gil brandt said this, “the receiver position has changed. You don’t need a 100-catch guy as long as your WR corps is balanced.”

    Even Rick Gosselin said that “the road to the superbowl doesnt need a star wr.”

    Engram and Toomer are veteran guys that can catch the ball. The chiefs are going to spread the ball around, and that balance will greatly benefit the team. It is much better than hoping Bowe steps up to fitzgerald status…specially since he has been dropping a ton of balls so far in training camp.

  • August 4, 2009  - anonymous says:

    I agree! I’ve been hoping they would sign Toomer for a long time now. Those two guys may be a bit long in the tooth but, they are savvy, they understand how to get open, when to break a rout off if the QB is in trouble, not to run a six yard route when you need eight yards for a first down, etc. etc., things like that can really help a team.

    There is no doubt in my mind, Toomer will help this team, and if he doesn’t, I feel just as sure he’ll get cut. There is no down side to bringing him in for a good long look.

  • August 4, 2009  - alex k says:

    Yeah this is a nice move. He can teach the young guys a lot, and its a flat out upgrade.

    With Injuries, and Mark Bradley having a history of them, just incase to have a guy that can jump in as the number 2, is a great thing.

    Plus, its a one year contract, Kc has signed a lot of their older vets to 1 year deals…anyone who thinks its a bad move do to their age fail to understand that these guys arent here for the long haul….However, this is the type of signing that may get the team another win.

  • August 4, 2009  - anonymous says:

    0 - 16

  • August 4, 2009  - alex k says:

    that is funny….but no…2 losses to the raiders? nah..not this year…outside of that…the schedule is pretty ridiculous

  • August 4, 2009  - aPauled says:

    Can any one tell me who the F this guy is? He’s always shadowing Haley. Looks like an old school NSA guy to me. LOL

    I heard that Mike Shanahan was touring training camps. Did he put on a little weight, invest in a straw heat and come see the Chiefs this week?

  • August 4, 2009  - anonymous says:

    LOL aPauled!

    Does any one know?! Pay attention to photos and interviews. He’s always “lurking” nearby.

  • August 4, 2009  - anonymous says:

    alex k

    That o and 16 post was not mine.

    I leave the stupid sh!t to those that have mastered it.

  • August 4, 2009  - get real says:

    Toomer’s signing shows that Pioli left WR out during this years planning. A great move anyway at least for 09. Now Haley can start to pressure Bowe to keep his head and hands in the game. Also talk about Taylor being RT for the season? How about that? Interesting moves now that training camp is starting. 09 may not be as bad as I thought.

  • August 4, 2009  - Rin Tin Tin says:

    Obviously & - “any 22″ will NOT do -
    kids nee rookies: GMs, Coaches, et al…heh heh heh


  • August 4, 2009  - alex k says:

    anon, yeah, unfortunately the way this board is till a sign in is required.

    thought I’d link from Bob’s Cbs feed ”
    New Chiefs WR Amani Toomer made a nice leaping catch along the sidelines on a hot, high throw from QB Ingle Martin.”

    I dont put much into practice, but hey, beats “toomer continued the trend of Chief Recievers dropping the football”

  • August 4, 2009  - Kevin B says:

    I hope Herb gets the job. I respect D-Mac’s effort, and as a guy who played on the other side, I can’t say I blame his horrid performance last year. However it remains shocking to me that he held on to his position as long as he did last year. It was like a baseball versus a pumpkin, for whoever was lined up opposite Sackintosh. He almost got Brodie and Huey killed! Not to mention laying down on Larry Johnson. I would rather see Rin Tin Tin as our RT.

  • August 4, 2009  - anonymous says:

    Kevin B,

    I agree, I don’t really care who starts, Chiefs need to see what Taylor has to offer, the same can be said about B Rich. (Probably a little to soon to see much outta Brown this year) But I think McIntosh is a serviceable RT in the short term.

  • August 4, 2009  - alex k says:

    any 22 will do, and toomer is possibly part of that any 22…what part of any 22 do you not get…he means any 22 that arent all from herm’s squad, a different 22…sigh..

    I agree with Kevin and Anon, I would love to see what Taylor/Richardson/ have to offer as starters, since brown probably isn’t ready yet.

    Taylor is a great backup, but why not make him a good starter…Im not so sure Mcintosh is anything but decent.

  • August 4, 2009  - Rin Tin Tin says:

    Tony Curtis… here yesterday, gone today - another of the hand-selected “any 22″ crew courtesy messers (no typo) & - found to be OBSOLETE.

    (PS) “The Fugitive” Ty - their very bestest choice - isn’t even here; Rin believes it’s the beginning of the end, nee a mutiny.


  • August 4, 2009  - ILChiefsFan says:

    aPauled said:
    “Can any one tell me who the F this guy is? He’s always shadowing Haley. Looks like an old school NSA guy to me. LOL

    Judging from that picture, I’d say it’s:

  • August 4, 2009  - ED says:

    Its good that Haley are bringing these qualities to the team. At the end of the day this team one 6 games in 2 years everything Haley has brought to the table speaks volume of what this has been missing the last 2 years. He’s just bring a attitude teams like the Steelers, Ravens, Giants, Pats, etc bring to the table every offseason. He’ll lighten up next year this time, but the first year out you have to set new rules and standards until its instilled in this team’s DNA.

  • August 4, 2009  - Mark says:

    Ideally only 1 of Amani and Engram make the team. Not too many championship teams have 2 35 year old WR’s on it, especuilly when WR is one of the areas you need for special teams coverage, and I doubt either of these guys will play specials. I’m OK with one or the other, but both would not be a good idea.

  • August 4, 2009  - anonymous says:

    I’d say that’s pretty solid logic. IF it weren’t for the unreasonably low (imo) 53 man roster, it would be more feasible that both would make the team.

    Having said that, I don’t completely rule out the idea of both making the team. Pioli will be able to do some creative things with the PUP and the practice squad to keep a couple of the younger guys stashed away.

    With the schedule the Chiefs have in the first half of the season, I see no problem having a couple of crafty old guys, who have proven themselves. I think Toomer brings even more than that though, I wouldn’t be to shocked if he starts opposite of Bowe.

  • August 5, 2009  - granite says:

    1. Hopefully, Haley’s practices will provide more conditioning while avoiding the overabundance of injury producing drills seen in Vermeil’s camps.
    2. Don’t be shocked if Taylor starts at RT on opening day.

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