Todd Haley Weighing Team vs. Individual Experience

Veteran guard Brian Waters made his 2010 training camp debut today in St. Joseph for the Kansas City Chiefs.  With the first preseason game on Friday night, Waters has “no clue” if he will be in the starting lineup.  For someone that has been around the block as much as Waters it’s not important for him to play, right?  Todd Haley’s not so sure.

“It’s a difficult question,” Haley stammered a little bit as to choose his words wisely.

“I would never word that these preseason aren’t important for a young, developing team.  For some individuals that have a lot of experience, it may be not so important from the gaining experience standpoint.

For me as the head coach and for our overall development as a team, playing together as a team, learning how to do things as a team and react to situations, they’re very important.  As far as the preseason goes, at least for the time being, it’s going to be very important for me that everybody that can play is playing and working with their teammates to make progress.”

As any coach will tell you, the team is always more important than the individual.  But by holding out a veteran like Waters until he’s as close to 100% as possible, aren’t you helping both?  I understand wanting your players — especially along the offensive line where lines of communication can never fail — to gel, but if there is anyone on this team that has proven over the past year that he can adjust, it’s Waters.

I’m not saying keep every veteran on the sidelines.  Quite the opposite, just like Haley I want every player that is healthy on the field for the preseason games.

Where I differ from the head coach is “can play” doesn’t mean “should play”.  During the regular season, everyone is dealing with aches and pains.  That’s the time when you need every one that is capable of getting out on the field competing to win football games.  We saw last year that Waters will play — and at a high level — with an injury to try and make progress.  Now is the time to evaluate the younger players, let them get much needed experience on the field and get your veterans as many reps as they need to be ready for Week 1.

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