Q&A: Todd Haley On Mandatory Mini-Camp Day 3

Following the third and final day of the Chiefs mandatory mini-camp, coach Todd Haley met with the media.  Here are the highlights:

If he has been surprised by anyone:

“A guy that stood out to me is Branden Albert.  He’s a guy who came in way out of shape that we were all pretty disappointed in.  He kind of let himself go when the season ended and probably in-season a little bit.  But the guy’s got his nose to the grindstone and he’s lost a lot of weight and is getting much stronger and practicing with technique.  I’m pretty excited about what the possibilities are for Branden.  Now there are a lot of young guys that I didn’t know a lot about specifically on that defensive side of the ball – some of the linebackers and those guys who are changing positions that I’m encouraged by.”

His thoughts on Jamaal Charles:

“Jamaal was a player that I liked a lot coming out (of college) and as I’ve gotten to know him.  He probably underperformed to the extent he wanted to last year.  I think with Jamaal he’s gaining a little confidence.  There’s no doubt he has ability but if he can get confidence in himself and raise his expectations up to where they should be I think Jamaal will be all right.  But he’s done a great job in the off-season; he’s learning how to work.  He’s getting bigger, stronger; he’s already fast.  I think he’s starting to understand offensively what we’re trying to do running and in the pass game, specifically protection.”

On special teams:

“Special teams is going to be big around here.  I’ve made that clear to everybody and everybody says it. But really, the easiest way onto the team is to be one of those guys. We’re definitely going to have two roster spots devoted to a special teams player – and I’m not talking about a snapper, but a true cover guy, an impact player in that phase of the game.  So, I think there are a lot of possibilities and a lot of potential.  We’ve got a big back in Jackie Battle who’s fast and big and time will tell when we get to the games and into the padded practices.  But to me he’s a guy you look at and say, ‘he should be a heck of a special teamer.’  Or, one of our young free agents, Jovan Belcher is another guy – a run and hit guy who looks like when the pads go on and you start covering kicks he could make an impact.  A couple of those guys are going to make the team because of their special teams ability.  I just try to educate them all on that fact.  That’s real life; I’m just not talking.  If we can get a couple of impact guys in that area of the game that can change a game for us they will be on the team.”

His thoughts on Brad Cottam:

“He’s working hard.  He hasn’t missed a workout.  He’s obviously big and I think that gives you positives and negatives.  He fell down a couple of times today.  He’s a guy who’s got to work on technique all the time being as tall as he is: keeping your knees bent and using proper fundamentals to give yourself good leverage.  But he’s a confident receiver and I think when the pads go on he’s got a chance to be a pretty good blocker.  But I like our competition right now at tight end, I really do.  We’ve got a couple of young guys in O’Connell and Crabtree who I don’t think it’s far off to say that they could be in the hunt somewhere along the line.  Then there are a couple of guys I’m familiar with in Tony Curtis and Sean Ryan, who are different types of players.  So, we went from being thin to having a nice competition at tight end which I think should play out favorably for us.”

A couple interesting notes from Haley today.  This is the first I’ve heard of Albert coming in out of shape, which definitely is disappointing after he had such a great rookie season.  But like Haley said, it’s encouraging that he’s managed to lose a lot of weight and sort of get back on track.  We’ve heard from day one that special teams would be a big part of Todd Haley’s program (a welcome change from the Herm Edwards era) and he is putting his money where his mouth is by saying a couple roster spots will be specifically devoted to special teams cover guys.  Remember, that’s in addition to the long snapper, kicker and punter, meaning the Chiefs will have at least five roster spots every week dedicated to special teams.

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