Chiefs’ defense ends offseason program in style

Matt Cassel misfired on a couple of throws, and the Kansas City

defense stuffed the offense during a mock 2-minute drill that ended

with a missed field goal Thursday – an ominous conclusion to the

Chiefs’ mandatory three-day minicamp.

Unless, of course, you were wearing the red jerseys of the

defense.

”Hey, offense sells tickets, they win games, but defense wins

championships,” said former Oakland Raiders cornerback Stanford

Routt, who signed with the Chiefs in the offseason. ”That’s the

way football’s always been.”

The haphazard performance by the Chiefs’ offense on a steamy

June morning notwithstanding, coach Romeo Crennel said he was

pleased with Kansas City’s entire offseason program.

The Chiefs had near-perfect attendance during voluntary

workouts, with the only significant player absent for the duration

being wide receiver Dwayne Bowe. He has yet to sign his franchise

tender, which means he was also exempt from the mandatory

minicamp.

The flotilla of guys who missed nearly all of last season due to

injury appeared to have made headway in their rehab. Pro Bowl

safety Eric Berry missed minicamp due to family issues, but tight

end Tony Moeaki and All-Pro running back Jamaal Charles were

itching to get back on the field.

All three of them tore the ACL in their left knee by Week 2 last

year.

Linebacker Brandon Siler didn’t even make it that far – he tore

his Achilles tendon during training camp. But even he was able to

participate almost fully in offseason workouts.

”I feel like we’ve made progress during the offseason,” said

Crennel, who took over for the fired Todd Haley on an interim basis

last season, and then was given the full-time job.

”I’m encouraged by the installation of the offense,

installation of the special teams, and defensively we looked at

some things we don’t normally do, so I was encouraged there.”

The Chiefs made plenty of headway in learning the system run by

new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, even though more than one

player acknowledged during offseason workouts that their ”head was

spinning” trying to pick up the terminology and scheme.

Fortunately for the rookies, they at least had that opportunity

this year.

The group of players coming out of last year’s draft were

basically handed a playbook and sent on their way because of the

NFL lockout. In many cases, they arrived at camp in August and were

out of shape physically or grossly behind in learning their team’s

system.

Sometimes they were both.

”I had these guys around me helping me out, so it wasn’t bad

for me,” said defensive tackle Dontari Poe, the Chiefs’

first-round draft pick. ”You just come in here the first couple

days and it was a lot to go in, let alone go out there in full pads

for full-on training camp.

”I’m glad I’m coming in a year after the lockout.”

The lockout may have set back last year’s crop of rookies, but

wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin – the Chiefs’ first-round pick in

2011 – appeared to have caught up during minicamp.

Baldwin got off to a slow start after hurting his hand during a

locker-room incident with departed running back Thomas Jones. But

he came on late in the year, and has showed over the past few weeks

the playmaking potential the Chiefs saw out of him in college.

It’s helped his cause that Bowe remains a no-show.

Baldwin took virtually every snap with the first-team offense

while Bowe waits to sign his tender. Bowe has said he’ll be on the

field when Kansas City reports to camp in St. Joseph, Mo., late

next month, but he’s already fallen behind in learning the new

offense.

Make no mistake, Bowe provides the big-play potential that the

Kansas City offense could have used during its mock 2-minute drill

at the conclusion of Thursday’s practice.

Even though players weren’t wearing pads, they were still going

close to full speed, giving the first real glimpse at how things

are shaping up for next season. Cassel was off target on a few

throws, and the defense managed to blanket Baldwin and wide

receiver Steve Breaston.

When kicker Ryan Succop trotted onto the field, he yanked his

attempt wide left.

The backup offense fared little better behind quarterback Ricky

Stanzi. His completion to rookie wide receiver Aaron Weaver

resulted in Weaver being tackled in bounds, and the game clock

expiring before the offense could get off another play.

A disappointing way to end an otherwise successful offseason

program? Only if you’re looking at things from the offensive side

of the ball.

”That’s what the game is all about. Somebody has to leave here

that way,” Breaston said. ”At the end of the season our defense

was one of the best out there, so I hope they do that every game

this year. We’ll be all right.”