Veterans Taking Charge Early

When the Kansas City Chiefs took the field this week for their first OTA of the offseason, it wasn’t just the coaches that were handing out advice.  As Josh Looney notes, the veterans on the team are just as vital to the Chiefs young players being successful.

“Know where the sticks are,” Weis instructed a receiver.  “You always have to know the down and distance…every play.”

On few plays later, OLB Mike Vrabel reminded DB Maurice Leggett to give him a “China” call.  For defenders, “China” is a term called out by cornerbacks to alert outside linebackers of a wide receiver’s actions.

While Weis worked on details with his players returning to the huddle, and while Vrabel helped take command of the defense from a player’s perspective, head coach Todd Haley roamed the field to give fundamental advice to players from various position groups.

When it came to performing the small details this week at OTAs, everything going on at practice was a collective effort in “getting it right.”   The teaching ultimately began with the coaching staff and ended with the veteran players.

“From a veteran standpoint, one of their jobs is to mentor these young guys that are now being integrated into this team and that’s a big part of what good teams do is those veterans take charge in that role and play a big part in it,” Haley said.

Over the course of the week it was clear that the Chiefs coaching staff made basics the club’s number one priority.  Ask the players and the majority of them agreed that the biggest challenge is getting back into the playbook, learning the terminology and correctly placing feet, hands and breaks where they should be.

“The key thing is getting these guys acclimated to how we’re going to do things on a full-time basis, that’s number one,” Haley said.   “They’ve got to know how we practice so we don’t have injuries, so we don’t have people on the ground doing things that end up causing injuries, that’s an important part of it.   Seeing how much they can learn and understand is another part of it.   So it’s two-fold for us.  We’re trying to get multiple things done with the young guys.”

Vrabel working closely with Leggett and the other young Chiefs players is exactly why I’ve felt so strongly about the veteran linebacker attending every team workout (mandatory and otherwise).  It might only be May, but the sooner these kids “get it”, the sooner the defense can take that big step towards respectability.

The same thing goes for the other side of the football, and really every position.  It’s huge for kids like Colin Brown and Jon Asamoah to have Brian Waters and Ryan Lilja next to them in every drill giving them pointers.  Even with the extra number of coaches at the pro level compared to college, it never hurts to get some direction from the guys that are still in the trenches getting the job done.

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