Vermeil Not All Warm and Fuzzy?

As he has done often during his four-plus seasons in Kansas City, Head Coach Dick Vermeil reached for his security blanket -- his 1999 Super Bowl champion Rams -- when he needed an established player. But that loving feeling just didn't last long when wide receiver Az-Zahir Hakim backed out of his deal with the Chiefs last week.

But warm and fuzzy feelings aren't what they used to be.

Looking for a veteran receiver after releasing starter Johnnie Morton for salary reasons, Vermeil thought he had an agreement in principal with former Rams receiver Az-Zahir Hakim. But on the eve of the July 17 three-day mini-camp, Vermeil was stunned to learn that Hakim had second thoughts and would be joining the New Orleans Saints instead.

"Az and his agent felt the best situation for him was not here," Vermeil said. "He and I discussed it. As I said all along, I wanted what is best for him, so it looks like he'll end up in New Orleans.

"Yeah, I'm a little disappointed, but I understand. It's the nature of this game right now. You can't always do everything you want."

Hakim likely was looking for a position -- and a salary -- the Chiefs could not guarantee. Vermeil said he made no promises to the former No. 3 Rams receiver (behind Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce), and even told the media there was no guarantee that Hakim could make the team after an injury-plagued 2004 season in Detroit.

"The total package situation wasn't as good," Vermeil said. "We were trying to get someone for the (veteran) minimum, and someone else offered him more. I think he did what anyone else would have done."

Hakim seemed most likely to be a candidate for KC's No. 3 receiver spot. Veteran Eddie Kennison has one spot nailed down and second-year speedster Samie Parker, despite getting only limited time last year as a rookie, will be first shot at Morton's spot.

But the No. 3 position -- on a team as inclined to use two tight ends as three wide outs -- is up for grabs, and Hakim must have seen that during his one day at a Chiefs workout (July 15). Marc Boerigter could be the strongest candidate if he can come back from the ACL injury that short-circuited his third year in 2004. Other candidates are relatively untested Chris Horn and Richard Smith, with rookie Craphonso Thorpe hoping to fit in the mix.

But on Saturday that all changed as the Chiefs added veteran and former Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Freddie Mitchell to the team. Mitchell was on the field on Sunday for the teams' final day of Mini-Camps. He is expected to stay in town over the next two weeks to work with wide receivers coach Charlie Joiner and offensive coordinator Al Saunders to get up to speed on the Chiefs complex offense.

Mitchell brings a little attitude with him from the city of brotherly love. Although that love apparently was not shared by his former quarterback Donovan McNabb. Mitchell was upfront with reporters on Saturday after he signed his one-year contract; that he and the Super Bowl runner-up quarterback did not get along. The Chiefs don't anticipate that problem with their current quarterback Trent Green who gets along with everyone on the roster. It's a fresh start for Mitchell and that's all he's been looking for this off-season.

CHIEFS NOTES
Rookie outside linebacker Derrick Johnson, Kansas City's No. 1 draft pick, had everyone in awe at the first mini-camp workout when he broke into the offensive backfield and made a leaping deflection of a would-be screen pass.

Two plays later, Johnson tried to blow up a running play in the backfield, then chased Larry Johnson the length of the field, closing from behind as he did so, as Johnson completed the run.

QUOTE TO NOTE:
"They looked good; they've obviously been working. When you don't see them on a day-to-day basis, you always wonder what they've been up to. But it was obvious today that Brian has been working hard based on the way he looks and the way he's moving." - Trent Green, after working for the first time this spring with two Pro Bowl linemen, Brian Waters and Willie Roaf.

MEDICAL UPDATE:
CB Julian Battle is lost for the season with a ruptured Achilles heal.

G Will Shields did not work on the field during the team's mini-camp. He is receiving treatment for arthritic knees.

WR Marc Boerigter, recovering from the ACL injury that cost him the 2004 season, is running some routes but has yet to put on the pads but is expected to be ready for the start of training camp at the end of July.

CB Dexter McCleon, who had offseason shoulder surgery, participated individual drills but sits out 7-on-7 and team drills. The Chiefs believe he's ready to play but since McCleon used doctors not associated with Kansas City they are adamant about being very cautions and delaying his work until training camp.

Two incumbent starting linebackers, Scott Fujita and Shawn Barber, can only watch from the sideline following surgeries while newcomers like rookie Derrick Johnson and veteran Kendrell Bell work to take their jobs. Fujita, recovering from foot surgery, hopes to be available for the opening of camp, but Barber may need longer than that and might not return to practice until the end of training camp.

TE Tony Gonzalez isn't practicing after undergoing off-season foot surgery, but he should be ready by the opening of camp even though he'll likely only practice in one session per day in River Falls. Even though Gonzalez has been doing some light workouts in OTA's and Mini-Camp catching balls after practice; he's not expected to participate in two-a-days in training camp. The Chiefs want him well rested and healthy for the start of the season.

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