Training Camp Q&A: Todd Haley 8/11


Following today’s Chiefs practice, Todd Haley met with the media.  Here are the highlights:

What are you looking for from the wide receivers at this stage of camp?

“I look at wide receivers as more than just pass catchers.  As football players they have to block, they have to catch the ball in traffic, make contested catches and make big plays in big situations.  Be football players first would be the way I would describe a group that I would like to be a part of.”

What ways have you tried to shake up guys and get their attention?

“I am always pushing and prying, trying to instigate a little bit and get some emotion out of guys and get some passion out of guys.  That is the way I have done it.  There are a lot of different ways but that is what I have done more than anything, just try and press them every day and not give them a whole lot of time to breath.  Usually in the end you have a decent group that plays, works hard and is mentally tough.”

Do you use depth chart placement as a tool to get players fired up?

“I am in a different position now.  When I was a position coach I used to tell guys that I would do everything I can to get them out of here if you are not doing it this way.  Obviously as a position coach I wasn’t making the final decision, but occasionally I’d be able to get done what I wanted done and the rest of the group would take notice.  Now that I am the head coach, obviously I have a little more say in these things.  It’s not a threat, it’s more that we are going to do it with the guys that do it our way and that is what we are looking for.”

On Dwayne Bowe being mentally tough enough:

“I think this group (wide receivers) as a whole needs work in that area.  It is OK to drop a ball, it is going to happen and I understand it.  What I want them to do is pride themselves on the tough catch where the linebacker is hitting them in the mouth or the safety is lining them up.  Those are the catches that you want to pride yourself for as a receiver in the NFL.  The blocking part is a big thing.  Our receiving group is big as a group and they should be a physical group that comes in and takes on safeties and fights corners to the whistle every down when they are running the ball or when someone else is running it.  I’d say as a group they have a ways to go, but a day like this helps.”

Who is impressing you from the WR group?

“Terrance Copper is a guy that you know you are going to get a good days work from everyday.  Terrance Copper impresses me.  Rodney Wright is coming from a long way off and it has been a little while, but he has worked hard every day.  Has he been perfect?  No, but I think he has made strides.  I think you can clearly see a guy like Amani Toomer come in and he understands what it takes to play in the league.  Same with Bobby Engram.  I would say in talking about the group, those particular guys have stood out to me as guys who are trying to do it the way we want it done every day.”

Thought on only five players in the rehab zone:

“To make this team you have to be on the field in general and that is a good sign when that group is getting smaller and smaller.  Throughout the season it will be the same memo from us, to play you have to practice and that is the way we are going to handle our business and that is the way I have had success doing it.  I like that the group is getting smaller and we have LB Demorrio Williams fighting back to get on the field and he was out there today.  From what I could tell it looked like he showed up a handful of times so I thought that was good.”

On the tight ends:

“That has been a group that has been kind of decimated.  They have been walking wounded throughout the camp so just getting them all back at once would be a plus for us.  We have a couple that are practicing which is good.  (TE) Jake O’Connell is beat up significantly and he has fought through.  You saw him make a couple big-time catches yesterday.  Those are the types of guys we are looking for.  I would like to see that group get healthier but they are fighting through.”

What is your philosophy for the preseason?

“I think winning has got to be important around here all the time because we need to learn how to win again.  That will be something an emphasis will be put on but at the same time, the most important thing that has to get done is evaluation.  While we want to win, we have to do it with whatever group we need in there to get a full evaluation of the team.”

How do you as a coach get that done?

“I think I have to coach the game to win.  You’re not going to bring certain guys back that have been out to do that but you have to have the entire group ready to go with the mindset that we are going to find a way to win this game.”

On the veterans brought in this offseason:

“It is such a young group and we just really felt that if you get a handful of those guys that have been around winning, like a Zach Thomas who has played in the league far longer than anyone thought that he could because he knows how to prepare to play every week.  As young as our group was, we felt that it was really important to get guys in here to help guide this young group.  We can only do so much as a coaching staff.  A picture is worth a thousand words so put a picture of Mike Vrabel doing it the way it needs to be done, it is going to accelerate the learning curve for everyone.  When you have a Mike Brown and a Zach Thomas communicating on a third and five before the snap that helps you get a stop, that does wonders for guys like Derrick Johnson who is standing there paying attention.  I think that was really what we wanted to get done, to help try and accelerate this younger groups learning.”

Wow, a lot of really good stuff from Haley today.

This Bowe stuff isn’t going away anytime soon, so I hope he buckles up his chin strap this week and gets himself in the right frame of mind to impress on Saturday.  It’s not often you have to worry about your No. 1 WR playing well in the first preseason game, but that’s exactly what has to happen this weekend.

It’s very interesting that Haley named Copper, Wright, Engram and Toomer.  Only one of those players — Copper — will be in their twenties by the time the playoffs roll around.  So while we might be focusing our attention on Bowe — and Darling a little the day he was thrown out of practice — I’d say that Jeff Webb and Mark Bradley should keep their eyes on jobs that could be opening around the league.

It sure sounds like we are going to see a very different preseason game than we are used to and it makes sense.  The only way Haley and Scott Pioli will know exactly who can play is if they play.  It sounds simple enough, but it’s just so rare that we see a preseason game with the top end of the projected depth chart play more than a few series right out of the chute.  Sure looks like that’s what we’re getting this week… Nice!

And did Haley really almost pull out a “you play to win the game”?  I almost stepped into bizzaro world for a second.

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