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Wile_E_Coyote
08-07-2005, 12:59 PM
Rick Dean, The Capital Journal

RIVER FALLS, Wis. -- Gunther Cunningham was talking recently about what it would take to rebuild the Kansas City defense into something that even vaguely resembles the Chiefs units that led the NFL in scoring defense in 1995 and '97 during Cunningham's first tour as coordinator.

"I think you need a cornerstone," Cunningham said. "When I was here the first time we had Derrick Thomas, Neil Smith and Dale Carter."

Are there any such players on the current Kansas City roster?

"I think Pat (Surtain, the newly acquired cornerback from Miami) could be one of those guys," Cunningham responded immediately. "Sammy Knight (the newly acquired safety from Miami) is definitely one."

And then Cunningham paused slightly as if to ponder his next words.

"It could be Kawika Mitchell," he said carefully.

Really? This would be the same Kawika Mitchell who in 12 games as a starting middle linebacker for the NFL's next-to-worst defense last year seemed to have missed as many tackles as he made? The same guy most Chiefs fans assumed was being replaced when Kansas City made the free-agent acquisition of Kendrell Bell, an inside backer from Pittsburgh?

Cunningham sensed what the reaction might be.

"People may laugh when we say that," he said. "But remember, it took (New England star inside backer Tedy) Bruschi five years to learn the position. Kawika's really only going into his second year when you consider his injuries."

It's a fact that hamstring and ankle injuries limited Mitchell in the two seasons since he joined the Chiefs in 2003 as the team's second-round draft pick.

But it's equally true that Mitchell has played in 27 games with 18 starts. That's nearly two seasons of game competition with one full season as a starter. It's time, Chiefs fans would suggest, that experience not be viewed as a factor when evaluating Mitchell's recent contributions and immediate prospects.

Fair enough, the Chiefs agree. While they like what they've seen of Mitchell throughout spring workouts and the first week of training camp, they're anxious to start real-time evaluations Friday night when they open the preseason schedule at Minnesota.

"Kawika is an improved football player," coach Dick Vermeil emphasized again Saturday. "He's taking on blockers better, he's recognizing better. He's got a tougher frame of mind and has added some violence to his game and some leadership to the team.

"I think it'll show up more as we move through the preseason games."

From even a casual viewing of the first week of the Chiefs' Wisconsin training camp, Mitchell appears to be an improved player. With Bell now playing to his right and super-quick rookie Derrick Johnson recently added to the left backer spot, Mitchell is frequently around the ball and in position to make a play, both in rushing and pass defense.

Of course, Mitchell often was in position to make stops when he started Kansas City's final 10 games last year. Recognizing plays and getting in position was one thing. Putting people on the ground was another.

"I think for me it was a patience thing," Mitchell said of his occasional tendency to overrun a ball carrier or become vulnerable to cutback runs into his gap.

"There were times when I ran to the play so fast that I just missed it. I've got to be more patient and start taking care of my responsibilities. And then I've got to make the tackle when I get there."

Improving the tackling of everyone on his defense had been a Cunningham priority in the camp's first week. But because his defenders can't manhandle their offensive teammates in practice, Cunningham can't fully gauge the improvement of Mitchell or anyone else until the Vikings game.

"We're lacking in some fundamentals of the game right now, and it's really in two areas -- line and linebackers," Cunningham admitted. "That's really disappointing me right now."

Wile_E_Coyote
08-07-2005, 01:02 PM
RIVER FALLS, Wis. -- The good news was that the Chiefs offense got a game-winning 36-yard field goal from Lawrence Tynes in the two-minute offense drill that concluded the Saturday morning practice.

The bad news was that the drill was designed to test the Chiefs defense.

Two-minute drills at various junctures of this year's camp will be designed to simulate game-deciding situations from various Kansas City games last year. Saturday's situation was a replica of what the Chiefs faced last year in their 22-16 loss in Jacksonville. Kansas City led 16-14 when the Jags got the ball near their own 30 with 2:15 remaining. They drove for a game-winning touchdown.

The Chiefs were quietly hoping their improved defense would get the stop this time. But with Todd Collins at the offensive helm, the KC offense put itself in position for Tynes' kick and a mythical 17-16 victory.

A third-and-8 conversion pass to Dante Hall, who complained that he wouldn't have been tackled where he was ruled to have been downed, was the big play in keeping the drive alive.

"The only improvement was they didn't get a touchdown; they got a field goal," said coach Dick Vermeil with mixed emotions because the "they" was his own offense. "I'd like to believe our offense is slightly better than Jacksonville's. I hope we're making improvement in that (defensive) area."

Green at rest

Trent Green did very little throwing in Saturday's morning session as coaches continue to rest his arm in several workouts throughout the week. Green works with the first unit in running drills, but goes to the sideline in 7-on-7 passing drills and team-work periods when the offense could either run or throw.

The extra work is a benefit for Todd Collins and KC's other two camp quarterbacks, Damon Huard and James Kilian, who all get more work than they would if Green were practicing.

Green did get in some short throwing after the morning workout, however. Taking advantage of a visit from his family and that of deep snapper Kendall Gammon, Green took one of his sons and one of Gammon's and played some touch football against Gammon and the other two boys.

Fun Night

The Chiefs held their annual Family Fun Night on Saturday with festivities at Ramer Field, the UWRF Stadium.

Players were available en masse for autographs for a half-hour before the 7 p.m. scheduled start. A fireworks display was scheduled for afterward.

Injury update

Guard John Welbourn missed a second straight practice Saturday morning while resting a sore leg he tweaked when fullback Tony Richardson fell on it Friday morning, the first day Welbourn worked exclusively at the starting right guard position that is Will Shields' when he's healthy. Welbourn worked out on Saturday night, however.

Shields, nursing a sore back, still has not worked in camp this year.

The Chiefs defensive line continues to work without three players who are expected to contribute in the rotation of players -- John Browning (back), Junior Siavii (knee) and new acquisition Carlos Hall (elbow tendon).

Jerome Woods, a Pro Bowl safety as recently as 2003 before being relegated to the second team with the acquisition of Miami safety Sammy Knight, continues to miss workouts with a fluid buildup on a knee.

Pro Bowl tight end Tony Gonzalez, who missed the entire spring workout program and is working only once a day in camp after undergoing offseason foot surgery, was removed from Saturday night's practice after injurying the outside of his foot in a 1-on-1 drill. Vermeil said he did not know the extent of Gonzalez's injury, but noted his concern given the player's recent history of foot problems.

Ninjaman
08-07-2005, 02:31 PM
But because his defenders can't manhandle their offensive teammates in practice, Cunningham can't fully gauge the improvement of Mitchell or anyone else until the Vikings game.

"We're lacking in some fundamentals of the game right now, and it's really in two areas -- line and linebackers," Cunningham admitted. "That's really disappointing me right now."

Doesn't sound good

Mr. Laz
08-07-2005, 02:32 PM
i don't know that i've ever seen our current defensive line manhandle anyone but themselves. :whackit:

Herzig
08-07-2005, 02:35 PM
Doesn't sound good

"
Improving the tackling of everyone on his defense had been a Cunningham priority in the camp's first week. But because his defenders can't manhandle their offensive teammates in practice, Cunningham can't fully gauge the improvement of Mitchell or anyone else until the Vikings game.

"We're lacking in some fundamentals of the game right now, and it's really in two areas -- line and linebackers," Cunningham admitted. "That's really disappointing me right now."






Relax. He's just saying that it's still hard to gauge since there's not really any hitting and full on tackling in training camp.

Halfcan
08-07-2005, 03:29 PM
I am not sure why we stayed pat on the defensive line. Simms had what 19 tackles last year. Browning has always been descent but not overpowering. Savili has made maybe two good plays and seems to be too dumb to understand the defense and just gets lost behind blockers. All other options seem to be okay, but you have to have some guys that can knock the center on his azz every play!! Divide and Conquer. The linebacker situation seems to be better-but we need a Dan Salamua up the middle that can smash a running back. When are the Chiefs going to cut their losses with Simms? Now the word out of camp, is half our D line is banged up allready-not a good sign. Are their any good Tackles left out there in free agency? Halfcan

milkman
08-07-2005, 03:43 PM
I am not sure why we stayed pat on the defensive line. Simms had what 19 tackles last year. Browning has always been descent but not overpowering. Savili has made maybe two good plays and seems to be too dumb to understand the defense and just gets lost behind blockers. All other options seem to be okay, but you have to have some guys that can knock the center on his azz every play!! Divide and Conquer. The linebacker situation seems to be better-but we need a Dan Salamua up the middle that can smash a running back. When are the Chiefs going to cut their losses with Simms? Now the word out of camp, is half our D line is banged up allready-not a good sign. Are their any good Tackles left out there in free agency? Halfcan

I think a 2 big reasons that we stood pat are,

1.The Chiefs have invested so many draft picks on DTs, and there is still the hope by the Chiefs that they will finally pan out.

2.Gun's system relies so heavily on man coverage and aggressive blitzing, the Chiefs, I think, felt that the priority in the offseason had to be improving the secondary, and adding speed and playmakers at LB.

After spending so much to improve those 2 areas, there really wasn't a lot left in the budget to go out and sign D-Linemen.

unlurking
08-07-2005, 03:45 PM
Sims
Siavii
Saleaumua

And I think Sims will finally have hist first good year this year personally.

Halfcan
08-07-2005, 04:54 PM
Good points guys!! I have to admit-Simms did look good in college-but the hold out-weight issues-arguement with Hicks last year-Hicks has never been one to call out his own players but Simms must have really pissed him off-not just that he makes more money than Hicks, but he really seemed to disapear during big games. I want players that get pissed off when the coach pulls them out for a breather-Simms seemed to want to come out last year. Jeez I hope he pans out-we paid him a ton in signing bonus and also salary cap hits-he needs to be a force this year. Junior just seems to be a mountain of a man-said to have good speed-maybe just needs more reps to learn. One thing for certain we can't let teams push us off the ball-especially in short yardage and goal line situations like last year. I am hoping for big improvement. Halfcan

Mr. Laz
08-07-2005, 04:57 PM
And I think Sims will finally have hist first good year this year personally.

any particular reason why?

jAZ
08-07-2005, 05:31 PM
Sims
Siavii
Saleaumua
ROFL
Is that a hat-trick?