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C-Mac
08-07-2005, 12:48 AM
RIVER FALLS WRAP: Day 10
Aug 06, 2005, 2:32:14 PM


By Patrick Herb


News and Notes:
- The Chiefs got after it again on Saturday with another set of practices in very comfortable temperatures on the campus of the University of Wisconsin – River Falls. The club began with a typical morning practice, but the annual Family Fun Night should bring the day to an exciting close.

- A group of NFL officials were on hand Friday and Saturday to update the team and media on new rules for the 2005 season and officiate at practice. Among those on hand were umpire Chad Brown and his crew.

“It’s always nice to have them here,” Vermeil said of the visiting officials. “A week from tonight we’re playing a game so their presence does make it more game-like. They call penalties and tell us why and it helps.”

A few of the notable rule changes for the 2005 season are:

Horse-collar style tackles are no longer allowed.
Back-to-back timeouts in order to freeze a kicker are no longer allowed. The timeout will not be granted, play will continue and the offending team will be given a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Each team is permitted two challenges to initiate Referee Replay reviews per game. If the challenge is upheld, no timeout will be charged. If a team uses both challenges and each is successfully upheld, they will be awarded one additional challenge.
- Kansas City is beginning to get a little national exposure at training camp. A day after appearing on the front page of USA Today sports section, the Chiefs got a double-dose of coverage from Sports Illustrated as NFL writers Peter King and Jeff Chadiha visited River Falls for practice.

- Rookie RB Samkon Gado survived a scare Friday afternoon during a half-line drill at practice. After bursting through the hole, LB Kawika Mitchell caught him and pulled him down. Although Gado landed awkwardly on his head and lay on the ground for a number of minutes, the injury was simply ruled as a burner.

“He’s fine,” Vermeil said of Gado. “Our trainers are well organized and although Sam said, ‘coach, I can walk off the field,’ they wouldn’t allow it. They went through a whole routine just in case. He’s fine. They sent him for an MRI just to evaluate it.”

- LB Kris Griffin worked in with the first team at outside linebacker during the morning practice. Griffin saw duty alongside Derrick Johnson and Kawika Mitchell.

- The Chiefs have begun situational work, including the two-minute drill. Friday evening both the first and second team got a chance to execute a “game-winning drive.” The first unit settled for a field goal and the second-team offense’s drive ended in an interception.

Saturday morning the team simulated a situation from a game at Jacksonville last season (10/17). The Chiefs led 16-14 with 2:15 remaining when the Jaguars too over the ball. Jacksonville drove 67 yards for a game-winning touchdown and a 22-16 win. Today, Vermeil put his defense in the same predicament.

“The only improvement was they didn’t get a touchdown; they got a field goal,” Vermeil said of his offense simulating the Jaguars today.

Position Analysis: Middle Linebacker
When a defense is adding several new pieces, it may not be fair to single any position out as a lynch-pin to success. Granted, it will be important for the Chiefs to get production out of all 11 starters, but perhaps no position is more vital to Kansas City’s 2005 success than the middle linebacker spot. The “quarterback” of the defense must serve as a leader, a play-caller and be steady as a rock.

Third-year LB Kawika Mitchell is trying to fill those attributes and build on the experience he gained as a starter last year. Mitchell finished second on the team with 85 tackles a season ago, but will need to take on an increased leadership role in 2005, in addition to defensive production. Thus far in training camp, defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham says that Mitchell has tried to make his presence felt.

“He has taken charge of the huddle to the point that he threw me out of it the other day,” Cunningham said recently. “It wasn’t an act, he was very sincere and I saw it really fast. He has made a lot of comments, and rightfully so about settling the huddle and do this and anticipate this. He has really come a long was as far as approach to the game.”

Behind Mitchell on the depth chart is 2005 NFL Europe Defensive Player of the Year Rich Scanlon. As a rookie in 2004, Scanlon appeared in six games on special teams. However, with the Berlin Thunder of the NFLEL, the Syracuse alum led the league with a franchise-record 94 tackles (68 solo).

Rookie Boomer Grigsby has been working at middle linebacker thus far as well. The Illinois State product was a fifth-round draft of the Chiefs and a three-time All-America selection.

Training Campfire Stories: Today’s 15th anniversary story from River Falls takes a look back at the Chiefs Home Run derby contest during the head coach Marty Schottenheimer era. For a few years in a row as camp drew to a close, Schottenheimer would shorten one practice and take the team to the adjacent baseball diamond.

Strength and Conditioning Coach Dave Redding and Equipment Manager Mike Davidson would often pitch, slow-pitch softball style, as the players swung for the fences. This was always a highlight of camp for the players as they would hoot and holler while watching their teammates usually struggle at the plate. WR Danan Hughes, who spent time in the Milwaukee Brewers farm system, was crowned the winner of the most recent Chiefs Home Run derby in the late ‘90s.