For those of us in the media, we had no clue what to expect from the players who had but one player workout since the season abruptly ended in a bitter playoff loss last January in Kansas City.
In the warm afternoon temperatures, Head Coach Todd Haley, reiterated that practices would probably start slow but those words of warning fell on deaf ears.
The fans who made the trek to the Missouri Western campus, were sparse and their enthusiasm was at best tepid. And that's not a knock on the Chiefs faithful or the Chiefs organization. But it was evident by the end of practice that the big red machine needed a good greasing before taking a spin down Main Street.
After several months of what felt like a study for the bar exam, there was still a sense of homecoming. And it was great to be covering football from the field and not from the index of my union's law guide. Training camp is not ever truly encompassing but Friday was simply a test run for Haley and the players.
So everyone had to make the most of the fact that at the start of training camp, the Chiefs were 29 players south of the teams roster ceiling. However, that's going to change on August 4th as the rest of the squad, including free agents, will join the foray in St. Joseph.
So what did we learn today?
My eye for the most part was focused on the rookies.
Even with light pads, first round draft pick Jon Baldwin looks more like a tight end than a wide receiver. But he runs such fluid routes that it's easy to see the impact he might make for the Chiefs offense this season. Still, after signing his four year contract early Friday morning, it could take weeks to see if the player the Chiefs took high in the draft, can get past his issues at Pittsburgh and make a fast adjustment to the NFL.
But he wasn't the only rookie that caught my eye today. Linebacker Gabe Miller, Defensive Tackle Jerrell Powe and Defensive End Allen Bailey, looked like they're already in the mode of forcing coaches to give them more than a look-see this August.
Center Rodney Hudson snapped most of the balls to the quarterbacks and seemed, under the non-contact conditions, like he knew what he was doing. The same can't be said for Iowa Quarterback Ricky Stanzi. He looked a little shaky out of the gate but it's his first day in camp at the most important position on the field, so I'll cut him some slack.
Draft picks aside I was interested to see some of the players the Chiefs signed as undrafted free agents. Kansas City went diving for minnows along the offensive line in hopes of finding a few keepers. And at first glance, they may have found a pair.
David Mims from Virginia Union is a mountain of a man who reminds me of starting right tackle, Barry Richardson. Although he is as green as grass, Mims is a player to watch for a back-up roster spot.
Another offensive lineman that caught my eye was Mike Ingersoll. At 6'5" he moves very well for a man of his size. But pulled out for some nice lead blocks for Jamaal Charles in early offensive drills. Although Ingersoll has a very steep climb from the bottom of the depth charts to a capable back up, it's easy to see why the Chiefs signed him.
All in all it was a good first day of class for the Chiefs. And even though not much else caught my eye, it was nice to some youthful fans shagging field goals from Ryan Succop. It meant that football was back.
The early days of training camp are going to be anything but exciting for the fans watching and the players, who have some ground to make up if they're going to be ready for opening day next month.
But the good thing is that this young ascending team surprised many people a year ago. And it was in St. Joseph, that they began their assault on the AFC West crown. So regardless, how boring the start of the football season begins, rest assured things are sure to pick up.
WARPAINT ILLUSTRATED MESSAGE BOARDS:
Jon Baldwin looks like the real deal.
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