Svitek Sets The Tone

It didn't take long for Chiefs head coach Herm Edwards to be a bit more vocal this year. Midway through Wednesday's morning practice, offensive tackle Will Svitek and Turk McBride had a little skirmish that gave the fans in the stands a chuckle, but didn't make the head coach very happy.

Spirited is a word that best describes the atmosphere in River Falls this year. The intensity is refreshing, and the hits come on virtually every 11-on-11 play. If you're a running back you get hit either somewhere behind the line of scrimmage or shortly past the Mendoza line.

If you're a wide receiver, expect a chuck, shove or a love tap from a defensive back. And if you're an offensive or defensive lineman, contact is as inevitable as Larry Johnson's projected holdout.

When you're a former defensive end that has converted to offensive tackle, you pick up a few tricks along the way. At Stanford, Svitek endured plenty of players cutting and holding him, among other things, in order to slow his pursuit of the quarterback.

Those experiences make him feel like he should give something back on the other side of the ball.

"There were so many things I couldn't stand," Svitek said of his days as a defensive lineman. "These guys were so cheap, and I hated offensive lineman. When I came over to Kansas City I figured I'd use things that I knew they hate and would make them tired. And I have to use that to my advantage."

"I try to do it to take an advantage, but I'm not going to cross the line. I'm not going to throw any punches or be an idiot and get thrown out."

Edwards had a different view of the play that resulted in Svitek's ejection. When McBride gave Svitek a shove after the play, a fan from the stands yelled out, "Way to go, Will." That drew Edwards' attention, and he told the fan it wasn't a good thing.

He then proceeded to preach to his players that fighting, or failing to keep your composure, will be a detriment to the Chiefs.

"I don't want players to ever think it's OK to fight," Edwards told reporters after practice. "You could break a hand. I've seen that. There are a lot of hands that get broken on fights. Then all of a sudden, now you can't practice. In a game, if that happens, you get kicked out. Then you get a penalty and you hurt your football team. You have to keep your composure, and that's what practice is all about."

Incidents such as Svitek's are inevitable in a camp as physical as KC's has been, especially when players are fighting for jobs. But at the end of each play, Edwards' players need to learn to walk away, and that's something Svitek has to make sure he gets under control.

But at the same time, you want competitive guys on your team. There's little doubt Svitek can help the Chiefs in that regard, and Edwards knows it.

"He's a guy we're counting on to be a backup for us," said Edwards. "But tough guys need to be smart guys, because they know they'll get another play to hit that guy. So hit them legally, that's how you should do it."

Right now, Svitek is practicing at left tackle behind Damion McIntosh. He could also see some time at right tackle, depending on how the position battle between Chris Terry and Kyle Turley pans out.

This is a big year for the converted defensive end. In 2006, Svitek was the best tackle in NFL Europe, but when he came back to Kansas City last summer his body was worn down. It was clear the rigors of his stay overseas had taken their toll.

This time around, it appears he's in much better shape.

"My body feels so much better from last year," said Svitek. "For me, everything is coming together."

And the Chiefs will need Svitek. They have to find depth along the offensive line. The starters are a group loaded with talent and experience, but outside of Chris Bober, there are no proven backups.

That means Svitek, Rudy Niswanger and Tre Stallings need to step up their game. You never know when they'll be called upon.

Svitek understands that he gets the best of people at times, and not always in the best way. He also knows not everyone will agree with his side of things.

"I think people are making a bigger deal than there is," said Svitek of Wednesday's incident. "(McBride) threw a punch, but in my eyes I thought it was fair."

There is one good thing about this altercation. It's a sign that players on both sides of the ball are starting to irritate each other. It's a grind to battle your teammates every day, but that will change this weekend. Svitek and company will get some live action against the Minnesota Vikings in a pair of scrimmages on Friday and Saturday.

"I'm tired of going against the same guys, like Turk (McBride) and Jared (Allen)," said Svitek. "It's going to be fun to go against the Vikings. That's what football is all about."

Clearly, Svitek already has his game face on. Let's just hope he keeps his helmet on this weekend. Top Stories