Chiefs defensive stars who skipped OTAs show up for minicamp
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Alex Smith has gone through hundreds off offseason workouts with Eric Berry, Justin Houston and Marcus Peters. Yet the Chiefs quarterback felt compelled to introduce himself Tuesday.
Call it some good-natured ribbing after the three defensive stars skipped voluntary workouts.
"Didn't know if they'd forgotten us here," Smith said with a grin. "Been awhile."
"He had a little smirk," Berry said.
Smith has been around long enough to appreciate the voluntary nature of the three weeks of organized team activities. He also knows the three Pro Bowl-caliber players have a better sense than anybody what it takes to get ready for a season.
Still, it was jarring to see the Kansas City defense without three leaders, particularly in an era in which most players jokingly refer to the workouts as "(in)voluntary."
"Listen, things have changed and offseasons have changed a lot since I first came into the league, drastically," Smith said. "And everybody has their own way to get ready and I respect that, especially the guys on that side of the ball. I like to bust them a little bit, but I get it."
Besides, they were all on the field Tuesday for the start of a three-day mandatory minicamp.
Berry said he discussed his offseason plans with coach Andy Reid and others in the front office, so nobody was caught off guard. He mostly worked out in Florida and at home in Georgia, where he was able to spend time with his family.
"Just being away from the game a little bit," the All-Pro safety said. "Just a recharge, seeing my parents, seeing my brothers, seeing my family. It's good to be around them -- good vibes -- because I know I won't see them during the season."
Houston also spent much of his offseason at home in Atlanta. The star linebacker prefers one-on-one training rather than group workouts that typically happen at the team's practice facility. Rarely does his home workout group consist of more than three guys.
"If I'm messing up, I want to be corrected," Houston said. "I want to be perfect in everything."
Berry and Houston are both secure with long-term contracts and form the foundation of the Kansas City defense. They've gone through plenty of offseason programs. The drawbacks to missing the organized portion of team workouts -- learning the nuances of the playbook, for example -- have largely been minimized by experience and repetition.
Peters' decision to skip voluntary workouts was more surprising, if only because he has yet to cash in. The All-Pro cornerback has earned just about every individual accolade possible, so it could be said he deserves the same treatment as Berry and Houston. But he's also entering the third year of his rookie deal and likely won't hit free agency until 2020.
Peters split his time between a gym in San Francisco and his high school in Oakland, his workouts similar to those while in college.
"We're getting back in the swing of it," Peters said. "We're here for a couple of days before we have to be back in camp. But we all have the same mentality. We want to win a Super Bowl."
Reid was asked repeatedly during the voluntary workouts why so many linchpins of his defense were missing, and each time he stressed the practices were not required. But the usually amiable coach was noticeably tense when the subject came up, almost as if he was expecting them to be on the field.
On Tuesday, they finally were.
NOTES: LB Derrick Johnson participated in the individual portion of practice, roughly six months after surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon. Johnson had been targeting training camp in late July for getting back on the field. "He looked good," Houston said. "He looked fast." ... RB Spencer Ware left practice with a hamstring injury. CB Kenneth Acker left with a groin injury. ... LB Tamba Hali (knees), LB Dadi Nicolas (knee), TE Travis Kelce (shoulder) and OL Parker Ehinger (knee) did not practice.