Vermeil knows his team has to start preparing now for the rugged first month of the 2005 schedule. It's a forced-march campaign that opens with a home game against the Jets, an '04 playoff team. It continues with a Sunday night game in Oakland followed by a Monday night game in Denver. The opening month concludes with a Week Four home game against NFC champ Philadelphia.
If the Chiefs are running at anything but full speed in the first month, they could easily again fall into the kind of 1-3 hole from which they were unable to escape last year.
"I'm really concerned about the start," Vermeil said. "You open against a playoff team here, then go on the road for a Sunday night game in Oakland, whom we've beaten four times by what, maybe four points?
"Then we play in Denver on Monday night, and (Mike) Shanahan is something like 8-3 in Monday games at home. And then we play the NFC champ at home. "What a way to start! We better be a better football team."
If the Chiefs can get through that opening month at even .500, they'll be in decent shape after a Week 5 bye to make a run at Washington and Miami before meeting the division champion Chargers in San Diego.
Vermeil, however, is having a hard time seeing past September. "Those first four rounds," he said, "will be a difficult fight."
The Chiefs will give their fans a sneak peak at the 2005 team when they conduct an open practice at Arrowhead Stadium on Saturday, June 18 at part of their three-day mini camp. The practice runs from noon to 2 p.m.
Ten-time Pro Bowl guard Will Shields and his wife Senia have been named Philanthropists of the Year by the Kansas City Council on Philanthropy. Shields, who has told Dick Vermeil that he will try to extend his string of 191 consecutive starts this year, was the 2003 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year recipient.
Longtime Chiefs trainer Dave Kendall is taking a step back from his day-to-day on-field duties with the club. After 28 previous seasons with the team, Kendall will take on more administrative aspects of the team's medical corps while long-time right-hand man Buds Epps will handle the day-to-day player needs. Epps will be responsible for the team's medical decisions both on the field and in the training room.