Back to school with Herm

The opening walk-through practice of Chiefs training camp 2008 was forced inside by rain. Several media outlets were on hand for the first practice, but it was much ado about nothing.

The offenses and defenses split-up on opposite ends of the gymnasium to jog through plays. It was altogether uneventful, and not much was learned by observers.

The depth chart remained pretty much the same as it was in OTAs and minicamp. One interesting side note to this morning's practice included the newly acquired wide receivers Sergio Joachim and Timon Marshall, who is shorter than his listed height of 5-foot-10 listing. The 6-foot-5 Joachim is a bean pole.

Every morning after practice here in River Falls, Chiefs Head Coach Herm Edwards will address the media. The main theme of this morning's press conference was focus.

"If you lose focus when you're not one of the 11 guys out there, and you're sitting back, watching, sometimes you don't think it's important," said Edwards. "You need to take a mental rep. You don't get as many reps as you would in college. Mentally, they've got to be able to do what we're asking them to do."

Herm stressed focus, and said he was pleased by the team's focus this morning. Center Rudy Niswanger was so focused, he even pointed out the imaginary blitzers during walk-throughs.

One thing Edwards and the team aren't focusing on is last year's abysmal nine-game losing streak.

"I think that's forgotten," said Edwards "I think the sting of what we went through, you'll never forget that. I've been in it long enough, you look at it. It's the inability to finish games. I talked to the team about each game. I showed them exactly what took place in all those games. That's the good thing. Another good thing is more than half of these guys weren't involved in it. They weren't here. That's something that we've got to correct."

"We just got into a rut where we lost a little bit of confidence as a football team. If you think about how we played, we were very competitive. There are times in games where you have to close the game out. We've got to be able to do that this year. As bad as people think we were - we're not a bad team. We have to find ways to make plays. We've got to do a better job than that. The thing about it, it's over with. But you've got to know what got you there. I think these players understand that. You're just telling them the truth."

Now that Edwards has the team's focus off of last year, he is in the process of focusing them on learning and becoming professionals. There is a crazy amount of undrafted rookie free agents in this camp, and nearly a dozen drafted rookies.

When football players graduate or school leave the early for the draft, they'd be mistaken if they thought their education was over. Once a player is drafted, they are given a playbook, summer reading if you will. Then, all rookies are required to go to several seminars and hear lectures on the nuances of being a professional athlete. When they complete that course, they graduate to training camp. They are thrown back in dorm rooms, they have two-a-days again, and the learning continues.

Professor Edwards stresses the importance of education.

"It's about learning," he said. "It's about getting better as a football player and a football team. We've got to do the little things better, collectively. We talk about it; now we've got to go do it. Because you're a young player, you don't get a get-out-of-jail free card and say, 'Well, if I make a bunch of mistakes…' Well, that's not true. You're a professional. You have to know what to do. That's why we're going to be very diligent on how we teach these guys and make sure they understand the little things. That's what wins games, the little things."

The Chiefs will continue their education at their afternoon class today at 3:30 PM. The clouds have cleared up and the sun has come out in River Falls, so recess will probably be outdoors. Top Stories