Mini Camp Quick Hits 6-8-06

The Chiefs hit the practice field once again on Thursday, and Warpaint Illustrated was there to give Kansas City fans an inside look at the session. Trent Green, Dante Hall and Benny Sapp did not practice, but there was plenty of action.

Defensive tackle Ryan Sims drew criticism from defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham as he took a knee in the middle of team drills. Cunningham gave Sims a verbal lashing, and Sims responded in a similar manner. It was reminiscent of the spats Cunningham had with linebacker Kawika Mitchell during last year's training camp.

Linebacker Kendrell Bell had his best practice as a Chief. Watching Bell this off-season is like watching a totally different player. Bell has displayed great speed, better instincts and excellent technique so far and today was no different. Bell had two tips, an interception and flashed coverage ability many didn't think he possessed. On one play, Bell ran stride-for-stride with running back Larry Johnson as he covered him downfield.

Bell's emergence this off-season makes for an intriguing battle for the right outside linebacker position. Keyaron Fox has shown plenty of ability as he recovers from last year's season-ending knee injury. Fox's strength is pass coverage, and on one play he went stride-for-stride with running back Quentin Griffin in space.

Wide Receiver Craphonso Thorpe is miles ahead of where he was last year. He's showing the ability to use his speed because he's thinking less. The 14 pounds Thorpe put on this off-season have made him much stronger, giving him the ability to use his hands to create separation. Thorpe also displayed great hands today with a couple of impressive catches, including a casual, low, left-handed grab on the sidelines. He put a sick double move on cornerback Alphonso Hodge to spring wide open down the field.

Hodge is slowly improving, but he's still got a ways to go, particularly in route recognition. That should come with time. He's quite adept at press coverage, however, which will help in the cover two scheme. These corners have got to be able to put their hands on receivers so the safeties have time to get into their drops.

Reports of linebacker Kris Griffin's demise were greatly exaggerated. He looks quick and confident and is getting around the ball. Griffin showed great athleticism in going up for an interception and grabbing the ball with his hands.

Quarterback Casey Printers looks confident in the pocket. There's no danger of him getting hit in practice, but he looks more comfortable than he did in earlier sessions. He's doing a great job of keeping plays alive with his feet and stepping up in the pocket to throw, instead of pulling it down and running.

Running back McKenzi Smith didn't have a great day. He had trouble keeping his feet, and there was nothing wrong with the field. Meanwhile, Quentin Griffin had trouble catching passes. Instead of looking the ball in, he's looking up the field before he has possession.

On the flipside, running back Derrick Ross continued his strong bid to win a roster spot. Ross is explosive and has great vision. Most importantly, he's humble and soaks up everything the coaching staff tells him. Ross didn't break any long gains, but he had a couple of nice runs where he had to work to find the hole before hitting it.

Cornerback Lenny Walls doesn't appear to be a very good blitzer. He can cover, but blitzing isn't his strong suit.

Guard Peter Heyer was impressive during one play where he took on defensive end Carlos Hall, who beat offensive tackle Ian Allen to the inside. Hall appeared to be on his way to a sack, but Heyer diagnosed it immediately, handed off his man and laid into Hall. All in a split second.

Wide receiver Jeff Webb continues to show great hands, great speed and great strength. It's becoming hard to imagine he won't make the roster.

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