THE GUNTHER CUNNINGHAM EXPERIENCE
I've been following defensive line coach Tim Krumrie from behind a fence during position-group drills as often as possible for the last two training camps (hey, he's always good for a sound bite), so doing the same with defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham today was a fresh experience, but I had no idea what I was in for. Of course, there was no real opportunity a year ago, as Cunningham wasn't as involved in the early segment of practice, not being a linebackers coach at the time.
In this morning's recap, we covered his work with linebackers in zone drops. This afternoon Cunningham was at it again, but on a larger scale, emphasizing vision of the ball and sliding with the quarterback's shoulders. He harped on this particular point multiple times during the drill.
Later, Cunningham carefully studied his linebackers performing what looked like the easiest drill ever, as they merely covered a few yards of ground laterally or vertically. To a novice observer, every player looks almost identical performing the drill, but Cunningham was not satisfied and made one linebacker repeat his attempt.
Finally, KC's defensive coordinator moved his troops to a pass-rush bag drill. Cunningham emphasized that his linebackers must not simply hit the bag, but use the proper technique and do so as quickly as possible, using their arms, eyes and feet all together. The reasoning was simple – in a game situation, if the technique used in the drill was not instinctive, the player would be easily blocked.
The Chiefs ran the one-on-one pass rush drill again today. Branden Albert matched up against Trevor Johnson twice, with the two linemen splitting a pair of snaps. Alfonso Boone really destroyed Damion McIntosh twice, while TJ Jackson continued his outstanding play from the morning session, bullrushing Rudy Niswanger deep into the mock backfield once and simply accelerating past the center on a second attempt. Brian Waters won both one-on-one battles with Glenn Dorsey, Ron Edwards did the same with Adrian Jones and Tank Tyler, in an impressive display, won a pair of snaps against Tre Stallings.
Derek Lokey, an undrafted free agent defensive tackle from Texas, might be a bit of a long shot to make the roster, but he might as well be KC's version of "Rudy." When Lokey plays in team drills, he gives maximum effort and it's paying off. In one-on-one pass rush drills today he was so keyed up he "sacked" the assistant coach playing quarterback.
The closest thing we've had to a fight in River Falls broke out today near the end of practice. Following a completed pass and a hard hit, cornerback Tyron Brackenridge and wide receiver Joachim Sergiori got into a bit of a mixup, attracting a crowd of players. The "fight" quickly dissipated, however, with not even a harsh word from Herm Edwards.
The Chiefs ran a two-minute drill for the first time this training camp. The offense started well with two straight completions, but a sack by Trevor Johnson (beating Branden Albert) and another sack by Alfonso Boone forced a hail-mary situation on the last play of the drive. Brodie Croyle's rainbow was intended for Jeff Webb, but safety Jarrad Page leapt into the air to slap the pass away. Page injured his left leg for his trouble, but walked off under his own power.
PLAYS OF THE DAY
Larry Johnson took the handoff, only to meet Trevor Johnson right in a hole at the line. A fraction of a second later, the defensive end was looking for his jockstrap on the ground while LJ was off to the races. Seriously, Larry practically made Johnson do the splits. That's going to be embarrassing when the defense reviews practice film.
The second-team offense had it's chance at a two-minute drill near the end of practice, and tried to set up a screen pass. Defensive end Jason Parker would have none of it, however, fighting off Will Svitek's block, leaping upwards and getting one of his big mitts on Tyler Thigpen's floater, intended for running back Jackie Battle but whacked out of the air instead.
Patrick Surtain may be old, and Maurice Price may be young, but the elder stayed stride for stride with the youngster down the left sideline as Brodie Croyle's bomb arched through the air. Surtain stayed with Price as it descended and reached up for an interception.
Glenn Dorsey finally showed why the Chiefs drafted him fifth overall today. During an 11-on-11 session, he beat Branden Albert at the snap and headed straight for Brodie Croyle with a full head of steam. Croyle was forced to dump the ball off.
Bernard Pollard is showing signs of development. Today he was all over Tony Gonzalez on a deep corner route. When the ball arrived the third-year safety leaped high into the air and slapped it away. Later, Pollard had such tight coverage on a receiver in 11-on-11 drills that there was no place for Brodie Croyle to fit the ball into near the sideline.
Now it's becoming clear why Barry Richardson was still around in the sixth round of the NFL Draft this April. Forced to play with the first-team offense today because of an injury to Damion McIntosh, Richardson could not contain defensive end Alfonso Boone, who beat him for sacks twice. Even worse, Richardson wasn't quick enough to handle Jason Parker during one-on-one pass rush drills, getting beat twice.
OVERHEARD / THE GUNTHER CUNNINGHAM EXPERIENCE - PART II
"You better get your butt out there. If he runs the wheel route, he's gone."
- Defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Gunther Cunningham, dispensing advice as only he can.
"I wish I was 20 years younger. I would go whip some ass!"
- Cunningham, remembering his days as a kicker at Oregon (or possibly linebacker).
"You've got to pull his gut out of his stomach and put it in his ear!"
- Cunningham with a visual aid.
"What the hell are you doing? We just worked the damn drill down here!"
- Cunningham wondering why his message wasn't sinking in during 11-on-11's.
"Hey, who are you? Who are you? A practice squad player? That's what you are when you can't contain the boot."
- Cunningham chastising Jason Parker after the defensive end fell for a play fake.
"You don't get a (expletive) catch."
- Safety Bernard Pollard, pumped after blanketing a receiver and forcing an incompletion.
Tamba Hali and Derrick Johnson sat out this afternoon's practice.
River Falls Recap: Monday, 7/28 PM Practice
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