MMQB Mail: Thoughts from Chiefs camp, Mallett impresses, more

Publish date:

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"I love your column and the insight you bring every week. As a Colts fan, I have lots to worry about this year...and one of them is certainly the Packers. Do you think it will be easier for them to repeat as champions because of the lockout? I feel like one of the reasons it's so tough to repeat as Super Bowl champs was the incredibly short offseason (especially if you go deep in the playoffs). This summer, every team got months off. Will the Packers have a unique advantage/opportunity to repeat?"-- Dan Klein, Terre Haute, Ind.

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"Peter, I grew up a Bear fan because my dad was, a tough thing for a kid in Detroit. Graduated and moved to Milwaukee in 1966 and I have been a Packer fan ever since. People out side of Wisconsin will never understand it. It's all about the team not the individual and the people are the team along with the players. It is a special place and a special team. I love it.

Mike Holmgren told a story once that he had just taken the coaching job in GB and he was shopping in the super market. A little old lady pushed here cart up to him and welcomed him to Green Bay and said the team will win this year. Mike smiled and said they would do there best to win this year and she came up to him put her finger in his face and said, 'NO you don't understand YOU WILL WIN THIS YEAR.' Not a ticker tape parade, no frills, egos or players that are bigger than the team only football the way it was meant to be played and why the fans love it. Keep up the great work."-- John Brandt, Detroit, Mich.

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"We don't have a 'mandatory high school class in Pleasantness', as you wrote; more likely, people suck up to you when you're in Green Bay or Mankato so you'll write something nice about our teams, instead of always writing about Red Sox/Patriots/Jets/Giants/Eagles/any-other-East-Coast-team... glad you liked the Stadium Pizza in Mankato, and Summit Pale Ale rocks!''-- Bill Holton, Woodbury, Minn.

I forgot to mention the Mandatory Sucking Up Class in middle school.

• YOU ARE SO RIGHT"I know that it's just one preseason game, but do you think that teams like Miami, Seattle, San Francisco, and Washington might regret passing on Ryan Mallett? Each had opportunities to get him in the second or third round before the Patriots, but passed because of the character concerns. With the new rookie scale, it just seems the inexpensive contract (the Patriots are getting him for peanuts) would make a team more likely to take risk on someone with his potential. If he's a bad egg, then those are the breaks, but if he lives up to his potential, he's the steal of the draft. Meanwhile, these teams have quarterbacks who, for the most part, have proven that they are not consistent producers on the professional level."-- Silas Kaine, Springfield, Mo.

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"Peter, I don't feel sorry for any season ticket holder having to pay regular season prices for preseason games. However, I will begin to as soon as they start selling their regular season tickets at face value on Stubhub. Needless to say, I'm not holding my breath for that to occur. Season tickets are an investment that many people make and they typically can make their money back (and then some) in the secondary markets for regular season games.''-- Jim Bass of Los Angeles, CA.

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"Always look forward to your column on Monday mornings to start my week off on the right foot. Thank you for pointing out that charging full price for preseaon tickets is an absolute joke, something that has been mentioned in the media time and time again, but that the owners don' t seem to care about.

I took my 9-year old son to last Thursday's Patriots game to see his favorite player, Tom Brady. When the Pats took the field for the first offensive series, he looked at me and said, 'Where's Tom Brady?' I pointed to the sidelines and his next remark was, 'You mean he isn't even going to play?' I honestly didn't think Brady would play more than the first quarter, but to not even set his foot on the playing field, what a huge disappointment for my son.

Between the full priced tickets ($234 for the pair) parking ($40), refreshments ($27), and the obligatory trip to the Pro Shop ($55), it was a really expensive evening to see players that, for the most part, won't even be on the team when the "real" season starts. We'll still root for our favorite team, but from now on, it won't be from inside Gillette Stadium.

Oh, by the way, we did get to sit in bumper to bumper traffic for an hour and a half on the way home ($40 in gas)."-- Rob K., Framingham, MA.

I don't think I need to say anything.

• GOOD POINT"You've mentioned all these teams and their moves in free agency, but you've seemed to overlook the Saints and the moves they have made. They made quality moves throughout the draft and FA, might not have been flashy like the Eagles, but they certainly were great moves. Combined with the roster they had before and their coaches, that makes one of the more talented and versatile rosters in the NFL."-- Chris K., Florida.

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 have been reading your column for years now and although I haven't always agreed with what you write and the oft abuse of your soapbox resulting in preferential treatment from hotels, restaurants, etc... But reading and disagreeing with you is a guilty pleasure of mine and in that regard you are quite good at your job.

Your latest column concerning Corwin Brown saddens me. Because of the tragic events surrounding Corwin you choose a decidedly negative slant in writing about events you think may have played a factor and ignoring the amazing aspects of Corwin. He was a generous, down to earth, and truly cared about kids.

I met Corwin about 14 years ago in Harvard Square while playing chess. He would stop down periodically to play and we had many enjoyable sessions filled with lively banter. I remember one night in particular where we played speed chess for 12 hours straight. Although he was losing a great majority of the games I was in awe of how he never lost his cool. During that 12-hour session we talked about everything from where and how we grew up, to aspirations in life and of course football. His eyes would light up in talking about kids and giving them the opportunity to see the potential of their lives outside of their environment.

How blessed he was to have had that opportunity himself through football and how he wanted to pass it on to kids in other ways outside of sports. He was sincere and down-to-earth in his advice to me in working hard to be successful and to push myself. After that night we stayed in touch for awhile but lost contact after a few years.

I think reporters like yourself needlessly take a cynical slant on stories. Rather you should be hoping Corwin and his family are receiving the help and support that they need. Corwin touched a lot of people's lives for the better and he is owed that recognition as well."-- Christian Schneider, Oakland, Calif.

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 can guarantee you there are many more Parrotheads than Bono fans out there. At least in the United States. Check out one of his shows sometime and you'll understand."-- Justin Adams, Evansville, Ind.

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"Jeez Pete, are you personally invested in If not, do you really need to plug the darn site four to five times per column? It almost makes me wish Favre was coming back, so you could obsess about something that doesn't make you look like a shill."-- Pete, Bellingham, WA.

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.