Haley Speaks – 8/1

RIVER FALLS, Wis. - He's had a smile on his face since the day he arrived in River Falls, Wis., and head coach Todd Haley wore it again today after the Chiefs concluded their first official practice of training camp.

He was satisfied with the effort showcased by his players and despite his itch to man the wide receiver group he's so used to coaching, or the few times he forgot to blow his whistle, things went well for the first-time head coach.

"It's one day, one day of semi-controlled chaos," he said, "I wanted to get one under my belt for sure."

Haley said quarterback Matt Cassel is right where he expects him to be after one practice.

"Matt's Matt to this point," he said. "He's a good example of being the same guy every day. You're going to get great enthusiasm; he's going to be standing at your hip the whole time. You're probably going to have to tell him to be quiet five or six times because he's excited."

Coming from the Cardinals and an elite a pool of receivers to Kansas City, where the depth isn't as consistent, Haley said it's not the intensity he's concerned about, but the dependability of the receivers.

"I don't think that picking it up is an issue," he said. "We probably dropped too many balls just from my vantage point. Again, that's something we just can't have. These guys have got to do whatever you call it—mature, develop, and show that they're competitive players."

Veteran receiver Bobby Engram, signed as a free agent this offseason, is a player Haley believes will serve both as a mentor and performer this season.

"That's half the reason he's here," he said. "Any of the veteran players we brought in we expect them to be able to play and have ability, but at the same to help coach the younger guys is a big part of their role also."

Haley also commented on Mark Bradley, who has had some ups than downs when it comes to his ability to separate himself from defenders. Haley said Bradley needs to prove one thing.

"There's no doubt that Mark has ability, he said, "and for him it's more of a matter of being consistent and dependable, everyday player. He can be a good player in the league if he's the same player every day basically [. . .] He's just got to show that he can be out here every day and be the same guy every day."

With tight end Tony Gonzalez gone, there are shoes to fill at the position, but Haley said he's not looking to replace Gonzalez. Instead, he just wants a player who can get the job done.

"You don't replace a player like that," said Haley. "But at the same time I think that I'm kind of excited about our tight end group. I think there's good competition, good ability and we got a nice mix of players."

It's been speculated as to whether veteran safety Mike Brown out of Chicago has a shot at a starting spot or was brought to the club just to add depth, but Haley said Brown holds the key to his own fate. Every spot on the roster is open for competition.

"Mike Brown is another guy I have familiarity with going back to Chicago, another excellent leadership guy that has been on winning teams," said Haley. "He knows how to win, how to prepare to win. He's been a great player in the league. Mike has some versatility where he can play strong or free safety so I think that gives him a little bit of an advantage."

Once again, Larry Johnson was a hot topic. But Haley reiterated his comments about Johnson from Friday, and had praise for how the running back practiced Saturday morning.

"When I said clean slate for everybody, I meant it," said Haley. "This is a fresh start for all of us. Nice to see him in pads and running hard. Going by what I see, I'm excited about the player."

A few days ago it would have appeared that the Chiefs had made up their mind on their kicker and put their trust in seventh-round pick Ryan Succop, but Haley said Saturday morning that he still believes Connor Barth, the team's kicker last season, is legitimate. The decision to waive Barth on Tuesday was just as strategic as any move the team has made this offseason, because Succop may not get many chances to kick when the Chiefs start playing exhibition games.

"Through the preseason, a field goal kicker, you may only have one field goal in a game," said Haley. "So in order to get this guy seasoned enough to see if he could do it, we thought it was the best direction to go right now."

Veteran offensive linemen Brian Waters, Mike Goff and Damion McIntosh did not practice Saturday morning because they failed the conditioning test yesterday. Instead, they were relegated to working out on the sidelines. As potential starters, that doesn't bode well, but Haley said he wasn't concerned about them just yet.

"If this were long term or something that I thought that was going to be a handful of practices or more, it might be," he said.

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