THE GUNTHER CUNNINGHAM EXPERIENCE
Today it was more lessons in reacting to offensive formations and motion for Gunther Cunningham's position group, and again the atmosphere was more like a classroom session. Cunningham was relaxed and actually extremely pleased with his linebackers today, as apparently they're becoming more and more well-versed in his system.
Cunningham was quite specific about the nuances of how his defense should react to pre-snap offensive machinations based on the defensive call. In one defense, Cunningham pointed out that what the offense was doing would only affect the strongside linebacker. In another front, regardless of motion there might be no defensive shift.
What interested me was that not only did Cunningham want his players to understand how they had to react on the field, but why. Halfway through the drill, he explained they were practicing this particular exercise so they wouldn't need to play an extra linebacker in a particular formation. Another interesting note – Cunningham gives the same attention to his backup linebackers as the starters. That will pay off during the regular season when injuries hit.
In another drill, it was interesting to see Cunningham backpedal with his players as if he was doing the exercise himself. Despite the fact he's well over 60, it's obvious Cunningham brings great energy to the practice field and relates well to his players.
Tank Tyler's dedication shows up when few people are watching. Today, even though the rest of his defensive line was nowhere to be seen, the second-year defensive tackle was hustling through drills with a bag while a special-teams session went on. Tyler told Warpaint Illustrated's Mike Nugent he's dropped 25 pounds, and it shows.
It's absolutely incredible how quiet new offensive coordinator Chan Gailey is on the practice field. It's almost like he's not there. His predecessor, Mike Solari, was much more vocal.
The Chiefs haven't given Larry Johnson much work recently. He practiced today, but received only a few carries. My guess is Johnson is going to be well-rested for the preseason, as the Chiefs do plan to give him more carries than they did a year ago. We'll see if LJ shows the same form he did early in training camp in a couple of days against the Chicago Bears.
Kansas City's running game appears to have quite a bit of variety compared to last year. The Chiefs are not only using elements of power running, as seen last season, but there's plenty of zone-blocking and stretch plays incorporated on a daily basis. There's also no shortage of outside running, and the Chiefs have the athletes to execute it fairly well. I think it's safe to say you'll have a hard time guessing which play the Chiefs are running based on the formation and personnel this season. That wasn't always true in previous years.
Brodie Croyle looks completely comfortable with the new audible system. He's frequently utilized it throughout camp, although not always to the greatest success (today Croyle audibled into a play that resulted in a sack).
PLAYS OF THE DAY
Brad Cottam can dominate the middle of the field when he's given an opportunity. Today he headed straight down the seam in 11-on-11's and towered over a linebacker. Brodie Croyle zipped a pass to his giant tight end, who had no trouble plucking the ball out of the air. It was almost indefensible given the accuracy of the pass and Cottam's frame.
Jabari Arthur likely has no shot at making the 53-man roster. But give it up for the young receiver, because there's no doubt he made the catch of the day this morning despite tight coverage from cornerback Will Poole. Arthur used every inch of his 6-foot-5 frame to dive for a ball thrown in front of Poole by Damon Huard.
Ready for the mismatch of the century? Today it was linebacker Derrick Johnson against John Paul Foschi, who isn't exactly the most athletic tight end on the team. Johnson was practically stapled to Foschi's hip as he covered him in the left flat and slapped away a Brodie Croyle pass. By the way, Johnson looks more comfortable than ever playing the weakside again.
"Oh, look out! The jackrabbit's loose!"
- Herm Edwards, using a fitting nickname for rookie running back Jamaal Charles after he busted a run up the middle.
"No, linebackers, listen closely. We have a tank on the field."
- Gunther Cunningham, pointing out either a defensive call or defensive tackle Tank Tyler (your guess is as good as mine).
Kolby Smith, Kevin Robinson, Donnie Edwards, Trevor Johnson, Tony Gonzalez, Glenn Dorsey and Branden Albert sat out this morning.
River Falls Recap: Tuesday, 8/5 AM Practice
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