THE GUNTHER CUNNINGHAM EXPERIENCE
OK, now we're going to start calling him a defensive coordinator again. That's because this morning's session featured Gunther Cunningham working with an entire defensive unit at once, as the Chiefs went through a goal-line walkthrough.
Cunningham was pointing out minute details on his players' alignment during this period – the inside foot placement of a linebacker against a tight end, the inside shoulder placement of a linebacker on a running back. A few inches here or there apparently could lead to disaster
Later, Cunningham tested his players on their coverage responsibilities when men went in motion against a goal-line defense. He wanted the appropriate player – in some cases a linebacker, in others a safety – to mirror the offensive player's motion.
Cunningham's next drill featured linebackers and defensive backs practicing their Cover Two responsibilities against various pass patterns. Depending on the route run, a defender may have to move to almost any area on the field. Cunningham also instructed his defenders not to backpedal too fast, so they could change directions quicker.
Finally, linebackers coach Gunther Cunningham re-appeared, as he instructed his unit how to react to receivers in short zones given a certain coverage – Cover Two, or perhaps Cover Four. Position group drills finished up, but Cunningham wasn't finished. During an 11-on-11 session later, he was spotted giving some personal instruction to linebacker Demorrio Williams between plays. In the NFL, a coach's job is never finished - especially when he has two of them.
Pat Thomas worked at middle linebacker for the fifth straight day. You have to wonder if the Chiefs intend to keep him there permanently, as they don't seem to inclined to give Napoleon Harris any reps with the starters whatsoever.
The Chiefs gave Tank Tyler a few reps with the first-team defensive line today, as he replaced Ron Edwards. Tyler had previously worked with the second team.
The Chiefs goal-line formation included Tamba Hali, Glenn Dorsey, Ron Edwards, Alfonso Boone and Turk McBride on the defensive line. Derrick Johnson, Pat Thomas and Demorrio Williams rounded out the linebackers, with Bernard Pollard, Jarrad Page and DaJuan Morgan lining up at safety.
Derrick Johnson is showing signs of maturing as an NFL linebacker. Not only does he have his assignments down, but today he was correcting the alignment of defensive linemen in front of him. That's classroom work showing up on the field.
Head Coach Herm Edwards is a busy man, and jumped right in his SUV after practice to head off down the road. But he wasn't so busy that he couldn't sign a few autographs for some young Chiefs fans who approached his idling vehicle.
PLAYS OF THE DAY
Tyler Thigpen set up a screen pass as most of the defensive line rushed toward him, but Derek Lokey wasn't fooled. He was waiting on running back Jamaal Charles, who caught the ball only to turn around and get a face full of #69 from Texas.
Turk McBride got such a great first step, Anthony Alabi had no chance. The second-year defensive end and was up the field and by the offensive tackle before he had a chance to get out of his stance. Tyler Thigpen would have gone down easily had it been a real game.
Brodie Croyle completed his drop, looked downfield, and waited. And waited. And waited some more. Finally, right when his near-perfect protection was breaking down, Croyle launched a 30-yard rainbow down the left sideline to Devard Darling, who made a beautiful over-the-shoulder catch.
Brodie Croyle followed up one good day of practice with another solid morning this Saturday. He began the day with the long completion to Darling before hitting Jeff Webb and Brad Cottam on consecutive tosses. Croyle later hit a rough patch where he was sacked, almost intercepted and appeared to mis-communicate with a receiver on a long pass, but he finished up the day with a great 15-yard out pass to Webb and hit Cottam in the hands again, only to see the tight end drop the ball. Kelli Croyle, Brodie's wife, was also in attendance today.
Other than a nice run by Jamaal Charles, the Chiefs didn't run the ball all that well with Larry Johnson and Brian Waters out of the lineup today. Tre Stallings had his hands full with Glenn Dorsey, making life easy for Pat Thomas in the middle. We'll see how KC's run defense fares at Family Fun Night this evening, but there are signs that it's much improved.
"What's the problem? Last night I said safety has one, linebacker has two, and you have three. Can't you count to three? Now all these people think you're a dumbass!"
- Gunther Cunningham, embarrassing linebacker EJ Kuale right in front of a large crowd of fans.
"Hey! Over under! Get the hell out!"
- Cunningham, disgusted after a defender allowed a short completion in 11-on-11 drills.
Larry Johnson, Donnie Edwards, Brian Waters and Tony Gonzalez sat out this morning's practice.
River Falls Recap: Saturday, 8/2 AM Practice
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