View Full Version : No crutches, Horn ready for K.C. camp

07-17-2005, 07:59 AM
Of The Gazette Staff

The last time Chris Horn appeared in Billings he was on crutches.
And that's never a good thing, especially if you're a young wide receiver locked in a constant battle to remain on the payroll of a National Football League team.

Horn was in town in mid-February to speak at the Parents, Let's Unite For Kids (PLUK) fund-raiser and be honored by his alma mater Rocky Mountain College.
He was also just a week or so removed from undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee.

Those crutches are long gone now, Horn said in a recent telephone interview. He also pronounced himself physically fit for his third training camp with the Kansas City Chiefs.

"At the start of camp (on July 28) I'll be doing everything as if I'd never missed a beat," he said. "(The knee) is doing really well. Everybody is really optimistic. The doctor is optimistic, the staff is optimistic and, most importantly, I'm optimistic."

That's great news, because, as usual, some tough competition lies ahead at two-a-days for the 5-foot-11, 195-pound Horn.

He will be one of at least 13 wide receivers on the Kansas City roster when the Chiefs report to their training facilities at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in 11 days.

Kansas City cut veteran Johnnie Morton in the offseason, but added free agent pickups in Freddie Mitchell (Eagles) and Darrell Hill (Titans). Eddie Kennison, Dante Hall, Samie Parker and Marc Boerigter also return and the Chiefs drafted Craphonso Thorpe of Florida State.

"I don't think they ever get any easier," Horn said of training camp. "If anything, it's possibly going to be more competitive than it has ever been."

No one knows for sure how many receivers the Chiefs will keep on their 53-man roster. Six is a good guess, but Horn, who also plays on special teams, isn't fretting.

"A lot of that still has to be played out," he said. "It doesn't do me a lot of good to think about that stuff because I can't control it. I just really try to focus on what I can control."

Horn, who turned 28 on Wednesday, also battled similar odds last summer and went on to appear in 14 games with the Chiefs during the regular season.

The sure-handed receiver caught 15 passes for 178 yards and one touchdown last season. He also rushed one time for 12 yards, returned four kickoffs for a total of 44 yards and recorded eight special teams tackles.

This time around, however, Horn is coming off his surgery. He also hasn't participated physically in any of the Chiefs' organized team activities or mini-camps during the offseason.

"It was very difficult to stand and watch," he said. "That's been tough."
February's surgery repaired cartilage damage suffered when his knee hit the frozen turf during a game in Kansas City last December.

Horn was on crutches during a halftime ceremony at a Rocky basketball game on Feb. 19. As part of the festivities, one of his Chiefs' jerseys was unveiled as a framed memento that will now hang in the school's Fortin Center.

Throughout the spring and early summer, though, Horn lost the crutches, rehabbed his knee and was in attendance at all of the film studies and workouts.

During the Chiefs' offseason camps, he would stick his head into the huddle or stand close to the coaches calling the plays.

"I knew what the play was for each receiving position and then I would run it through my head what I would do if I was out there," said Horn. "I just really tried to polish up on as many mental reps as I could."

By doing that, along with strengthening his knee, Horn said he can't wait for camp to begin.

"As long as I'm 100 percent going into training camp and I get to compete with everyone else, that's the most important thing," he said.

The Chiefs will practice in Wisconsin for 23 days until they return to Kansas City on Aug. 19. Kansas City will play preseason games against Minnesota (Aug. 12), Arizona (Aug. 20), Seattle (Aug. 27) and St. Louis (Sept. 2).

Horn made the Chiefs' opening-day roster in 2003 and spent a total of seven weeks on the Kansas City roster, seeing every-other-week duty through the season's initial 14 weeks. He spent the final three weeks on the team's practice squad.

He was cut by the Chiefs at the conclusion of last year's camp, but was placed on Kansas City's practice squad the next day. Horn was promoted to the Chiefs' 53-man roster in late September and caught a touchdown pass against the Houston Texans in his first NFL game.

Horn was a novelty during his first training camp, a virtual unknown from a small college and a star in arena football. He impressed everyone with his sure hands and his willingness to make the tough catch over the middle.

Over the years, though, he has gained the trust and confidence of the Chiefs' coaching staff and his fellow players. He has also enjoyed some big moments when given the opportunity to play.

"I think that I've answered those questions," he said of belonging in the NFL. "Not only do I know what I'm doing, but I can get the job done at an efficient level.

"Now it just comes down to being consistent and being at a high level all of the time," he said. "I continue to look for ways to get better."
Training camp is where it all begins.

"That's exciting," said Horn. "It's going to be another year of competition and battling it out, but that's something I thoroughly love and enjoy."

And it's something he is getting pretty good at.

07-17-2005, 12:49 PM
Sapp journal: Former UNI standout points to upcoming camp as critical
By DOUG NEWHOFF, Sports Editor

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A year ago, the Kansas City Chiefs gave Benny Sapp what he wanted a chance.

A year later, as the Chiefs prepare to open their 2005 summer training camp, Sapp hopes to give his employers what they wanted when they signed the free agent cornerback out of the University of Northern Iowa.

It's an important camp, acknowledged Sapp, who played two seasons for the Panthers after transferring from Iowa where he started 20 games.

"As a pro player, I think it (the second) is the most important year," he explained. "You have a decent chance to get out there and do a little more ... let everybody know what you can do and what you bring to the table.

"I think it gives the coaches a chance to really evaluate me and see what I can do every day."

The Chiefs described Sapp as a "pleasant surprise" a year ago. After making the squad, he established himself as a capable corner and a solid special teams performer, playing in 15 games with one start. He worked his way into Kansas City's nickel and dime defensive packages and on the kickoff, punt and punt return units.

For the season, Sapp had 15 tackles, including one for loss, an interception, a forced fumble, three passes defended and one quarterback pressure. He was third on the club with 13 special teams tackles.

"Last year worked out pretty well for me," he said. "When I came here I just wanted to try to do my best and get the chance to get out there and play the game I love. I kept telling myself that it was the opportunity of a lifetime and to take every day as seriously as possible."

Sapp knew the game would be faster and the players more talented.

"At every level of football, the competition is higher and the speed faster," he noted. "I pretty much knew what it was going to be like.

"Everything I did at Iowa and UNI set me up for the opportunity to be here. When I got here, I felt like I could do it. I prepared myself for it.

"I told myself that I had the ability. I told myself not to put too much pressure on myself. You do what you do and do your best."

There was plenty to learn, Sapp continued. The Chiefs' veteran defensive backs helped him through.

"All of the veteran DBs were there for me," he said. "Greg Wesley, Dexter McCleon, Eric Warfield, Jerome Woods, Shaunard Harts ... All of them are professionals, and they know how things need to be done.

"The main person I watched and learned from a lot was Dexter McCleon and how he prepared every day and how he loves the game of football and how he prepares for it."

Kansas City, which has Parkersburg's Casey Wiegmann as its starting center, drafted just one defensive back, although the Chiefs did sign free agent Ashley Ambrose and traded for veteran Patrick Surtain.

"The competition level is going to be really high this camp," said Sapp. "But I've done it before now. I know how to take it on. I feel like I'm pretty much well-prepared for camp, and I know I'll be prepared for the season."

The Chiefs report to River Falls, Wis., for camp July 27 with workouts slated to begin the next day.