Haley's Boot Camp

RIVER FALLS, Wis. - It's intriguing what happens there mostly because it's a clear illustration of what happens when you don't do what you're supposed to. You knew it was coming, but for whatever reason you're here. You aren't over here with the rest of the guys, you're over there. That's where a few Chiefs have spent their time during the first days of training camp - over there.

Where is "over there?" It's the designated conditioning boot camp area, and a place you don't want to be if you're a Chiefs player at training camp. It's a place that says, "I didn't pass and I've got work to do." It's a place that gives working hard an unconventional twist and making the team is just a little harder if you're there. It's the place where Head Coach Todd Haley is showing that when he said every player will be expected to come to camp in shape, he meant it.

Since Saturday, boot camp has been in full force in River Falls. At one point five of the Chiefs' potential starters were enlisted. Slowly it dwindled to two - linebacker Derrick Johnson and defensive end Glenn Dorsey. They finally worked their way out of boot camp Tuesday and joined their teammates in practice.

Looking to escape boot camp, Johnson attempted to join his teammates on the practice field a day early Monday afternoon. While participating in the rigorous conditioning sessions, he said he didn't "want to die."

A desire to practice with the rest of the team was part of it, but when talking about boot camp, Johnson's expression attested to the rigorous drills going on in the corner of the River Falls practice fields.

"Feeling a lot better, a lot better…I'm not as fast right now but I'm getting to it, the next couple of days I'll be full speed," said Johnson, who is glad to be finished with boot camp and onto the brighter side of things.

As if they were part animal, the players who had no choice but to oblige to the training participate in drills that made them appear like fishermen, furniture movers and oil riggers. They crawled down the field like bears, reeled in large dummies while seated, and carried dumbbells above their heads with arms fully extended. Agility ladders, bikes and medicine balls were not off limits, either.

Going non-stop for the two-plus hour practices, the players appeared as if they were preparing for combat. That's probably the goal, because the Chiefs have made a statement in their words and actions that they will battle for wins this season.

But it's more than just what happens in boot camp. It's the fact that there's a boot camp at all. It's another statement that things are different this year and will continue to be different, because the man calling the shots won't have it any other way.

The peering eyes of fans have followed every movement of the boot campers. Although Haley said working players out in front of the crowd to embarrass them was not something he did consciously, you could only help but think it was part of his genius plan to motivate.

Dorsey's weight and ability to be effective as a defensive end after making the move from tackle has been in question. But if we know anything yet, it's that Dorsey worked hard in boot camp. Clearly, Haley is doing everything he can to make sure his players are ready to succeed.

"I've been sore for a while, it's just you got to be smart about it," said Dorsey following boot camp. "You don't want to set yourself back for the season. I'll wake up tomorrow and get the treatment or whatever and be ready to go for two-a-days tomorrow."

Haley is showing that he is a coach who is looking out for the best interests of the team.

"I'm only worrying about that group out there," he said. "I want guys who want to be here practicing and playing every day that I can count on and who I said yesterday are the same guys every day."

But Haley won't talk about the players "over there." Of course, he really doesn't need to talk about it because it's all said - over there. It says commitment, hard work and passion are concepts Haley believes in. It's what the players must possess. It's what you employ over here if you want to succeed and it's what you'll take back home and use on the field if you're a Chief. The boot camp corner is a demonstration that winning starts now at training camp.

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