MMQB Mail: Thoughts from Chiefs camp, Mallett impresses, more
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- Five thoughts looking back at my day with the Chiefs:
1. Kansas City will try to keep veteran noseman Kelly Gregg, late of the Ravens, healthy for 16 weeks by playing him only 40 to 45 percent of the snaps. The Chiefs, a 3-4 team, morph into other fronts on all non-running downs and play roughly 50 percent 3-4. If Gregg plays 25 or 30 downs per game, it will give him a good shot to stay upright down the stretch.
2. Remember Keary Colbert? Former second-round pick of the Panthers. Bounced around to two United Football League teams recently. Coached tight ends for USC, his alma mater, last year. He's got a legit chance to make the Chiefs. I wouldn't say 50-50, but close.
Todd Haley told me today that Colbert's agent sent the club a YouTube video of Colbert working out recently, "and we thought it must have been photoshopped, it looked so good. Then we worked him out, and he looked terrific. Unless it's a mirage, he'll be in the thick of things for a job here.''
But he'll be competing with the best stable of receivers the Chiefs have had, by far, in Haley's three years. He may have to beat out current nominal starter Jerheme Urban, a Haley favorite from Arizona, to make it.
3. Jared Gaither is bright-eyed, pain-free and working on a one-year contract, trying to prove (like so many other veterans disappointed at the tightwad "open'' market this year) he deserves a long-term deal with guaranteed money.
Gaither was hurt last year with Baltimore and had his desire questioned by the Ravens; he reportedly flunked his physical with the Raiders last week, leading to a minimum-salary, one-year deal with the Chiefs.
"Kansas City wanted me here, and I want to be here,'' he said after practice Monday. "I feel 100 percent.'' He's listed number two on the depth chart at left tackle behind Branden Albert, but he could challenge Barry Richardson and Ryan O'Callaghan on the right side.
4. The player I was most impressed with: Tight end Tony Moeaki. I'll be writing more about him in the coming days, but what interested me is the Chiefs' aggressive use of him in passing formations -- as a slot receiver, a blocker tight to the formation, and set out wide. He's their Dallas Clark.
5. Finally, another example of how the USO partnership with this training camp trip continues to be a terrific experience. Thanks to the Chiefs for their hospitality to 14 Airmen from Whiteman Air Force Base near Knob Noster, Mo. It's one of the places our men and women train for roles in the flight and care of stealth aircraft.
At the start of practice Monday, coach Todd Haley had several of them standing on the offensive line's long blocking sled, and the first, second and third lines took turns blasting into the sled and driving them downfield. Then he had four of them take portable pads and form the gauntlet for the Gauntlet Drill, when running backs, tight ends and wideouts charge into the line and get pounded by the men with pads. Others caught the field goals blasted by the two kickers.
Afterward, Haley brought them into the team huddle, praised their will and had one of them talk to the team. They got footballs signed, and Matt Cassel spent some quality time with them. "I just want to thank you guys for everything,'' Cassel told them. Then they walked into the team cafeteria on the campus of Missouri Western State to eat dinner with the team. That's above and beyond, Chiefs.
One of the Chiefs' fans in the house felt the love. "This is the greatest day of my life,'' Airman James Clark of Warsaw, Mo., said. A cool day for all involved.
Now on to your email:
• VERY GOOD QUESTION
Usually, teams in the NFL trying to repeat as champions have 31 equal foes to beat. This year, it's very hard to imagine the team with new coaches or new coaching staffs being serious contenders for the Super Bowl against established power teams like Green Bay and New England. You are smart for bringing that up.
• I GOT A FEW OF THESE EMAILS MONDAY
Thank you very much. When you started telling me the story about Mike Holmgren, I thought you were going to say the old lady told Holmgren he looked like Craig Stadler.
• GEE, I'VE NEVER HEARD THIS BEFORE
I forgot to mention the Mandatory Sucking Up Class in middle school.
• YOU ARE SO RIGHT
I don't know if GM Jeff Ireland of the Dolphins is having second thoughts, but he should be. I couldn't agree with you more about teams missing out on Mallett, particularly where he was picked -- midway through the third round. The Dolphins, in particular, really liked Mallett the player and absolutely should have taken a chance on him before the Patriots nabbed him. There's no guarantee that he would be the player or the citizen that he would be in New England, but the Dolphins needed a quarterback. They didn't solve their quarterback problem via the draft or free agency, and, what's worse, they could be watching Mallett develop into an excellent pro prospect with tutelage from the power team in their own division.
• YOU ARE NOT ALONE
Not every season ticket holder can do that. What about the fans of teams with no market for their tickets? It's just wrong to charge full price for what is not a legitimate major league event.
• I REST MY CASE
I don't think I need to say anything.
• GOOD POINT
Many of you have expressed similar feelings about why I have written about certain teams at the exclusion of others. I'm actually working on a similar story to the one you all have suggested for our pro football preview issue.
On the larger topic of why I have written about some teams at length and others not at all this summer, it is a pretty simple answer. During the regular season and playoffs, I try to write something about virtually every team in play every week. In the preseason, rather than write surfacey things about things I have not seen and games I have not watched, I choose to write about the places I've been and the people I have tried to draw out. I know that's not a satisfactory answer to fans in Denver, Seattle, Cleveland and the Giants, for instance. But that's the way I've chosen to do it.
• IT IS A NEWS STORY, SIR
I heard several good stories about Corwin Brown from those who knew him, including one from Patriots assistant Pepper Johnson, who said that he appreciated Brown because he played chess contentiously with his son. There seems to be little doubt that Brown had many good qualities to him.
But Monday was not about analyzing what a swell guy Corwin Brown is. It was about trying to make sense of why an intelligent man who had been humbled in his recent attempts at football coaching would lose control of himself and hold police at bay for seven hours with a gun. If we had reported only the good things and the happy things about Corwin Brown, we wouldn't be doing our jobs. Our jobs are not to be publicists. Our jobs, in this case, are to try to explain the news.
• THAT COULD VERY WELL BE
I'm sure that's possible, but I'm not sure that Buffett can fill 30 or so football stadiums in North America with 45,000 to 65,000 people in each show across the United States and Canada. I don't know this, but that's my gut feeling.
• I WISH I HAD A PIECE OF IT
Valid criticism. Here is my defense: Neil Hornsby, the founder of that site, traveled with me for four days on my camp trip. He is a thoughtful and analytical person. I believe he came up with many interesting statistics and bits of information that I felt were compelling on the trip. Maybe I overdid it with Neil. But was your knowledge of football even slightly enriched when you found out that Derek Anderson was more accurate downfield last year than new Arizona savior, Kevin Kolb? I appreciate you keeping me honest, whether I agree with you or not.