KANSAS CITY, Mo. —The little kids table can bring it, too. In a hurry.
If there was a theme to the Kansas City Chiefs’ Memorial Day weekend rookie minicamp, a trend, it could be boiled down to one word: Speed.
After four losses to division rivals (and playoff peers) Denver and San Diego on the ledger last fall, general manager John Dorsey vowed that his charges would get faster in 2014. Media and observers around the team’s training complex got a chance to really see that vision, for the first time, in the flesh, as first-year and some second-year players scrimmaged Saturday through Monday.
First-round pick Dee Ford? Burner. Third-round pick Philip Gaines? Burner. Fourth-round pick De’Anthony Thomas? SUPER burner. And they weren’t the only ones, either …
THREE OBSERVATIONS FROM THE CHIEFS’ ROOKIE TRAINING CAMP
:03 … SLEEPER CANDIDATE NO. 1: DANIEL SORENSEN AT SAFETY
The favorite undrafted rookie free agent to make the squad a week ago is still the leader in the clubhouse. Safety Daniel Sorensen ticks a lot of the right boxes for this team, right now — and not just because he attended coach Andy Reid’s alma mater of BYU.
During the first day of rookie drills, the 6-foot-2, 208-pound defensive back showed the same nose for the ball he did with the Cougars, deflecting one pass during 11-on-11 drills while picking off two others.
Sorensen was one of BYU’s defensive quarterbacks last fall, setting the single-season school record for pass breakups (23). The native Californian was a willing and savvy special-teamer in Provo, too, something that should give him a leg up with Reid and coordinator Dave Toub. The Chiefs are serious about continuing to make special teams a weapon, and heady playmakers such as Sorensen — who has a little of that Steve Tasker vibe to his game — certainly fit that mold.
Sorensen was also a standout at the NFL Scouting Combine, reportedly posting the fastest 20-yard shuttle time of any defensive back in Indy; his time in the three-cone drills was reportedly the fastest by a safety since 2006. Plus, he’s an older rookie, having taken two years off for mission work in Costa Rica before returning to the collegiate ranks from 2011-13.
:02 … PHILLIP GAINES AND WESTON DRESSLER CAN FLAT-OUT MOTOR
Fifth-rounder Aaron Murray wound up getting picked off four times during 11-on-11s Saturday, and Gaines, a corner out of Rice, got his hands on one of those as well.
In fact, one of the better individual matchups among newcomers was Gaines, one on one, against Canadian Football League import Weston Dressler.
At one point in the 11-on-11 phase, the 5-8 wideout blew past Gaines — who reportedly put up a 4.31 40 time at the combine — by a few steps and had a clear line on a fly pattern that landed several inches out of his grasp. Gaines got Dressler back, though, later in the full-team drills, jockeying for position on another rainbow and jumping higher than the smaller receiver to snare the pick.
:01 … THE LEGEND OF DEE FORD IS REAL, KIDS
Not only did Ford drop the hallowed name of Derrick Thomas again — he took the number 55, Thomas’ old digits as a collegian at Alabama — but he managed to evoke some of the late Chiefs icon’s quickness, too.
Take Saturday. During one 11-on-11 series, Ford lined up extremely wide off the outside shoulder of fellow rookie Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (LDT) at right tackle. Even LDT seemed surprised by what happened next.
The former Auburn pass rusher exploded forward, threw a quick swim move and was almost completely past LDT in four or five steps, forcing the French-Canadian to sort of turn and flail as Ford played two-hand touch with the helpless, exposed quarterback now in front of him.
The pair were matched up a few more times after that, and while Duvernay-Tardif got a punch once, he also found himself turned around awkwardly trying to chase Ford at least one other time. Ford also intercepted former SEC rival Murray on Saturday, corralling a tipped pass.
"I think he’s done a great job of jumping in the books and learning the drops and the things that you need to do with the pass coverage," Reid said. "That’s not an easy thing with all the combination things that we do. I’m happy with what he’s done there."
Interestingly enough, Reid had LDT working some at guard later in the weekend. Whether that was because of Saturday’s performance or not, this much was abundantly clear: Ford might talk a great game, but the kid also has the wheels to back it up.
You can follow Sean Keeler on Twitter at @seankeeler or email him at email@example.com.