In major pro sports though there are no excuses and everybody on the team will have to step up in Mankato, Minn. One player that is currently shining during the first nine days of camp is rookie tight end Kris Wilson.
With All-Pro tight end Tony Gonzalez still nursing a sore foot, Wilson is busy making a name for himself. Wilson of course not even likely to beat out Gonzalez for the job, but is giving head coach Dick Vermeil and his staff insurance at the position.
"What we saw was a player with a tremendous amount of versatility," Al Saunders explained to the Topeka Capital Journal. "This is a guy who can line up on the line of scrimmage, a guy who can split out and play in a slot (receiver) position, a guy who might be able to line up in the backfield and execute assignments from that position."
Saunders, who knows a little something about tight ends, that can do it all. When he was at San Diego Kellen Winslow lined up. The Chargers had one of the most dangerous offenses in the early and mid-1980's. Much like what the Chiefs have today.
"Our mentality is to get the five best offensive players on the field for any particular down-and-distance circumstance, and a guy like Kris Wilson can present problems to an opposing defense," Saunders said to the Topeka Capital Journal. "How do you defend him? Do you treat him like a second tight end and play a base defense, or do you treat him like a wide receiver and play a nickel?"
The Chiefs have led the league the past two seasons in scoring, and the offense is shaping up to take the title again. For the Chiefs to take rein of scoring leader, they must get healthy.
The other side of the ball for the Chiefs is taking mold well, for defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham. The players for Cunningham have nothing but praise for the veteran coach.
"I think my mental approach has taken a 180 from the past three years," end Eric Hicks said to the Wichita Eagle. "I'm flying off the edge again." Tackle Ryan Sims takes it even deeper."Gun's going to save my career."
Hick's is just one of four players remaining when Cunningham was first defensive coordinator, and one of eight when he was head coach. The Chiefs had only 36 sacks as a team last season, which ranked them 13th in the league. During Cunningham's final year as head coach the team racked up 51 sacks in 2000.
Hicks said to the Wichita Eagle, "He gives us a little football freedom, under Greg (Robinson), guys had to really, really, really set their minds to it."
One of the goals of Cunningham and the defense will be the improvement of the rushing defense, which finished at 30th in the NFL.
Undrafted rookie free agent Richard Smith from Arkansas continues to impress the coaching staff. He and fourth round draftee Samie Parker will both get extensive playing time in today's scheduled scrimmages against the Minnesota Vikings. With the Chiefs top three wide receivers all battling injuries, the young receivers will get every opportunity to make an impression.
We're beating a dead horse but kicker Lawrence Tynes continues to out-duel veteran Morton Andersen in practice. Tynes has elevated his play and work ethic. It's quite likely that if he can make the kicks in the exhibition games that he could supplant Andersen.
Dick Vermeil planned on addressing his team last night about he upcoming scrimmage today against the Minnesota Vikings. The last two years both teams have had scuffles that caused parts of the scrimmage to be altered or cancelled all together.
Quote of the Day
"I really want this more than anything in my life. I didn't come down here just to be a camp guy. I came here to fight for and win the job." Kicker Lawrence Tynes on his chances of making the Chiefs final roster.