KANSAS CITY, Mo. – New Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith’s first impression of the team that stumbled through a dreadful 2-14 season in 2012?
“Hungry,” Smith said. “So far, it seems to me, this is a very hungry group. These last couple of weeks, I’ve noticed everyone really eating up the coaching. A lot of great energy.
“They are really hungry to get better.”
And it’s now Smith’s job to keep his new team hungry and the Chiefs try to move past one of the worst seasons in franchise history.
Smith and the Chiefs took part in the first day of voluntary off-season practices Tuesday inside the team’s training facility.
Everyone was in attendance, except left tackle Branden Albert, whom the Chiefs put a franchise tag on for 2013. Albert has been unhappy that no progress has been made on a long-term deal, and he skipped voluntary off-season meetings last week.
“(Branden) Albert is the only one who didn’t show up but look, I understand the business side of things,” new Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “We don’t concentrate on the guys that aren’t here. We concentrate on the guys that are here.
“It was his decision not to be here.”
But both Reid and Smith seemed encouraged after the first of three practices to be held this week.
“I’m enjoying it and really enjoying the energy of the players and the coaches,” Reid said. “A lot of teaching, a lot of learning and that’s exciting.
“Is it all perfect? No. But we just keep working. It’s a good attitude and I’m pleased with that.”
In some respects, Reid and Smith are in similar situations. Reid was fired after 14 seasons in Philadelphia, and Smith essentially was fired last season in San Francisco when he was benched in favor of Colin Kaepernick.
Reid and Smith now both look forward to a new beginning, as does an entire Chiefs’ team hoping to erase 2012.
“You feel like you should be motivated every year, but yes, it’s motivation this year,” Smith said. “(A trade) affects you. I’m determined to make the most of it.
“I don’t want to speak for Coach Reid, but for me, yes, definitely it’s motivation.”
That motivation for Smith might even provide an extra boost for Smith’s new Chiefs teammates, though he’s not exactly sure it’s necessary.
“I don’t know about anything such as a boost from me,” Smith said. “A boost really comes from confidence and knowing you can do the job day in and day out. We’ve got a new group of guys, a new coaching staff – it’s going to happen and come together because of repetitions each day in practice. Then you got to do it on the field on game day.”
Smith’s first order of business, naturally, will be to fully grasp Reid’s playbook and help his offensive teammates do the same.
Smith’s days in a West Coast offense in San Francisco should help.
“There’s similarities in that both offenses came from the West Coast world,” Smith said. “Similarities in structure. The terminology is different but we’ll pick that up.”
Reid said that should be no problem for Smith.
“There’ll be some carryover from what he learned in San Francisco,” Reid said. “That’s a positive for him. I thought Alex handled it very well so far.
“We installed (the offense) the last two weeks. We installed it in eight days and now we go rapid fire pace – calling plays and setting up. It wasn’t perfect today but we’ll get there.”
Smith said it’s vital that his new teammates try to get as much done in the next three days as possible.
“We have to just make the most out of every day,” he said. “We all have an abbreviated time together. We have to take advantage of every day. No going through the motions.
“We got three days to take advantage of that. After this, we go to phase two of the learning process.
“You have to sacrifice everything you got. I really do feel like every day is a sprint. I really don’t subscribe to the whole ‘season is a marathon’ thing or that this is a grind. I feel you come out and sprint each day and give the most you got, and then you come back the next day and do it again.”