Following the Chiefs first day of rookie mini-camp in Kansas City, Todd Haley met with the media. Here are the highlights.
“It’s a very important weekend for us and for them. It’s just really critical that they get a lot out of this and go back home, which they have to go back home, that’s by NCAA rule, no matter what; whether they’re in school, out of school, graduated, not graduated, they’ve got to go back home until May 16. Right now, they are 18 workouts behind the guys (veterans) that have been here since the end of March, and by the time they get back, they’ll be 27 workouts behind. It was pretty obvious today during practice that they’re well behind (in terms of the conditioning program).”
How much football do you throw at them the next few days?
“Offense, defense, special teams. They’ll get a decent dose. Today was relatively light and I don’t think they could have handled a whole lot more. Their heads were spinning as it was. The trick that I’ve learned is, you give them enough that they’re learning something – they’re starting to get their hands into the offense, defense or special teams – but that yet you can still evaluate them. That’s really what I stressed to them from last night, every time I talk to them, I’ll talk to them about how they’re being evaluated at all times. They’re being evaluated by how they sit in the meeting room. Are they taking notes? How they are on the field? Everything they do, they’re being evaluated and they need to understand that. One of those things is, are they able to learn what we’re throwing at them? But at the same time, we’ve got to try to figure out if these guys have the ability they need to help us.”
When you say they’ve got a ways to go, what do you mean by that?
“Conditioning. A lot of these guys have been on the circuit (visiting teams pre-draft). We told them as they were coming through here, all the guys that came through here, you try to warn them that, ‘You were in Detroit yesterday; you’re going to Baltimore after this. Even if you’re trying to work out, you have very little chance of doing what’s necessary.’ They’re behind, and if you’re not doing football-related things, if you’re just sitting at Lifetime (Fitness), running on a treadmill, watching TV in an air-conditioned situation, no matter what you’re doing, it’s not going to be the same thing.”
What were your first impressions of DB Eric Berry out there?
“I am excited about all the guys, I really am. I think there is a positive energy about this whole group and he is definitely one of the guys giving it off. The other thing I continually remind them of is that they don’t know anything right now. They don’t know what they don’t know, so they are all in the same boat. This will not change as long as I am here and I know it won’t change as long as (General Manager) Scott (Pioli) is here. We don’t care how you got here. Once you are here, you are just another helmet with a piece of tape on it. We are going to try and figure out if you can help us win.”
Is it more important to test these guys mentally or physically when they come in here for rookie camp?
“I think it is the whole package. They are being evaluated with everything they do. It is not just confined to the football field; it is not just confined to the weight room or the meeting room. Sitting there eating, tonight at dinner, they are going to be evaluated and that is the way it is. That is the way you continue to press and push and make sure that everybody is thinking and doing the right things.”
You had seven first-year guys out there. What is the standard for them being able to participate in this?
“Not an accrued season. They all chose to take part. It is actually a huge benefit for those guys because they haven’t played a lot, any really. They have been around the team some, but they get a chance to get a little head start and I think it gives them a little edge here as we go forward.”
Considering McCluster’s size, did you guys consider him a higher-risk, higher-reward type pick considering he’s not your prototype wide receiver?
“No, I wouldn’t say he was ever viewed like that. I think he was viewed as a talented player that was one of our highest-ranked running backs on the board, one of our highest-ranked receivers and a guy we think can really get something going in the return game. He is really an exciting player that can do a lot. As Scott (Pioli) mentioned on draft day, when we started to weigh variables on draft day like how many plays this guy could play, that is something that comes into play really quick here for us, especially dressing 45 guys. You have to have guys that can play a lot one way or another. He is a guy with ability and talent at multiple positions that I am excited about.”
How quickly do you throw all these positions at a guy like him?
“We are going to get his feet wet in a couple different areas this weekend without over doing it. Keep the reins on a little bit. His head is spinning, too.”
Are the Chiefs interested in DT John Henderson?
“I will restrict conversations in this room to players on our team.”