Chiefs get back to work with playoff loss to Indy still fresh on everyone’s mind
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — They started where they finished, more or less. Which, for the Kansas City Chiefs, proved to be both good and … well, bad.
"I think there are great things you can learn from that football game," coach Andy Reid said Monday, referring to January’s 45-44 wild-card round loss to the Indianapolis Colts, the gut-punch postscript to an 11-5 season.
Lesson No. 1: Let’s not repeat that one anytime soon, guys.
"It’s definitely a chip (on the shoulder)," linebacker Derrick Johnson said as the Chiefs officially began prep work for 2014, kicking off "Phase One" of the club’s spring/summer offseason program. "Knowing that we had an opportunity to do better in the playoffs, and we didn’t do it."
Johnson hasn’t had the stomach yet to sit through a replay of the Chiefs’ NFL-record eighth straight postseason defeat.
But safety Eric Berry has. Several times.
"It doesn’t get any easier watching it," the Pro Bowl defensive back said of the setback, in which a 28-point third-quarter lead went up in smoke. "But at the same time, I learned something different every time I watched it."
Other bits and bytes from Monday’s spring reunion (and there were plenty):
— Quarterback Alex Smith says he personally hasn’t had contract extension talks with Chiefs management, but his reps have.
"I didn’t have any expectations," said Smith, who’ll turn 30 next month and is slated to earn $7.5 million this year, the final one of his current three-year contract, "and don’t know when it’ll get done."
— Second-year offensive tackle Eric Fisher had surgery on his left shoulder and had to address his sports hernia as well.
"I’m feeling good," said Fisher, who’s been slotted to take over Branden Albert’s spot at left tackle, his natural position, after a rusty rookie season on the right side of the line. "When they tell me I’m cleared, I’ll be out there doing my thing."
— Reid said Rishaw Johnson will likely get the first look at the right-guard slot vacated by free agency, and Husain Abdullah, one of the few free-agent holdovers, will get the first look at a starting safety slot opposite Berry.
As to which one is "strong" and which one is "free," well …
"Safeties are interchangeable," the coach noted. "So you’ve got to find the right guys."
— Second-year tight end Travis Kelce, coming off knee surgery, is progressing well and feels healthy enough to play catch with the quarterbacks on hand. Running back Knile Davis and safety Sanders Commings also have the green light to work out, Reid said.
— Wideout Dwayne Bowe, on whether he thinks more punishment from the NFL is coming after his offseason plea deal related to charges of marijuana possession last November:
"I pray I don’t," he said, "but I don’t think I will."
— When asked what he learned from the incident, which took place at a traffic stop in Riverside, Mo.:
"It might not even be you," Bowe replied. "But it can be guilt by association."
— Nutritionists were a major theme of the winter, apparently. Bowe, who’ll be 30 on Sept. 21, hired one for the first time. Defensive lineman Mike DeVito, who wants to be on the field more on passing downs in what’s increasingly become a passing league, brought one into his camp, too.
"There’s not as many (years) in front of me," said DeVito, who turns 30 on June 10, "as there are behind me."
— Running back Jamaal Charles reiterated that he wanted to return in the wild-card loss, but that got stymied by the NFL’s new concussion policy, and he would have played in the next round of the AFC playoffs. He intimated that he was told during the Colts tilt to rest up, and to be ready for the next week’s game.
As we all know, that next week never came.
— Charles is working out with an eye toward playing forever — at, the least, playing as long as Peyton Manning has with Denver (Big No. 18 turned 38 last month).
"I want to be like Peyton Manning," he said. "At age 37, to keep his playing level where it is. He’s not losing (any) steps."
— Of course, longevity sometimes has a price. So does mileage. Charles, on another former University of Texas great at running back, Earl Campbell, and on how the NFL has taken its toll on Campbell as he ages:
"I worry about that," said Charles, who has averaged 272 carries over the past two seasons. "But I just feel sorry for him."
— Fisher said he played between 295 and 300 pounds last season, and his goal is to play between 310 and 315 this fall.
"Offensive line is territory, not a position," Fisher said. "It all starts up front, and you’ve got to have that attitude."
— From the Don’t-See-This-Everyday Department: Smith is the commencement speaker at the University of Utah, his alma mater, on May 1. As a side bonus, the Chiefs’ quarterback is slated to receive an honorary doctorate from the Utes.
"I’m not quite there," said Smith, who earned his bachelor’s degree in economics in just two years during his Salt Lake City days. "But you guys (in the press) are going to have to refer to me as ‘Doctor’ pretty soon."
— Pro Bowl defensive tackle Dontari Poe is also keeping up the lean and mean approach, which means the personal ban on barbecue is still in effect.
"Still applies," the Memphis native said. "Don’t tell my mom, but it still applies."
And speaking of food, that crow sandwich from Lucas Oil Stadium over the winter still lingers. Big time.
"Still not over it," DeVito said. "I don’t know if I’ve ever hurt more than (after) that game."
"It was one of those games where you know you should have won," Johnson said.
"We talked about it (Monday), as a matter of fact, what we can correct from that," Berry said. "The biggest thing was, just finish."
Just finish. In Reid’s world, that sounds like as good a place as any to start.
You can follow Sean Keeler on Twitter at @seankeeler or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.