Kansas City Chiefs: 5 Players Who Are Impressing in Training Camp
Finally. After suffering through a basketball tournament you try to force yourself to care about, counting down the days until the draft and enduring yet another fruitless Royals season, it’s here: Football. Live football.
Training camp is a glint of light at the end of a long, football-less tunnel for fans. For the players, it’s the start of a six-month grind. It’s also a time for youngsters and even some veterans to prove their worth to the organization. If you excel during the wearisome weeks, you’re in good shape to make the roster and have a job.
Five Chiefs are doing exactly that up in St. Joe.
The fact that this undrafted free agent was a part of the active roster for all of last season means that he must have made some impression in his first training camp. Reports are that he’s doing even better this year.
According to the outstanding Chiefs site Arrowhead Pride, Bair has been impressing in individual drills. Looking bigger and stronger, the Oregon product is making a case to be included in the defensive line rotation after not recording a single stat in 2011.
And it’s no accident he’s looking better. Several Chiefs writers and radio personalities tweeted from St. Joe one day that Bair was out on the field before the majority of the team hitting sleds. That’s the kind of dedication that gets you noticed in camp.
This bulldog-loving Liverpool fan is one of the most entertaining personalities on the team to follow on Twitter.
Since being plucked off waivers from Green Bay in 2010, the big man has been a very large afterthought, and the drafting of Dontari Poe seemed to be the nail in the coffin containing Toribio’s hopes of contributing anytime soon.
But according to Romeo Crennel, Toribio is the starting nose tackle entering 2012 and could have been last season if not for some extenuating circumstances that kept him out of competing in camp.
“He had a pretty good camp the first couple preseason games,” Crennel said of Toribio's 2011. “He would have been competing for a starting position if he hadn’t gotten hurt. Now he’s rehabbed and now he’s back and that’s why he’s the starter.”
Citing Toribio’s exceptional technique, Crennel has indicated that Toribio has the details of the position mastered. If a defensive line sage like Crennel is impressed, that’s a fantastic sign for Toribio.
It’s not often you see an offensive tackle go out on a swing pass out in the flat. It’s not every day that he actually catches it and takes Troy Polamalu out of the game at the same time.
Steve Maneri wasn’t a factor, outside of that one freak play, as an offensive tackle in 2011. He wasn’t given much of a chance to contribute in 2012 when the team announced he was switching from tackle to tight end, either.
Apparently, nobody told Maneri.
The former Temple Owl has shown that he can run and catch like a tight end at nearly offensive tackle size. That makes for an extremely interesting player to watch as camp progresses, and he has already attracted a fair amount of praise for his performance thus far.
He has elevated himself from a camp body to a very capable and valuable third tight end in a matter of weeks. That, in itself, is pretty extraordinary.
The Bowe Show has yet to show at St. Joe (say that five times fast) and it’s the one blight on an otherwise high-spirited Chiefs camp. Until Bowe agrees to sign his $9.5 million franchise tender, it’s up to the young fella drafted last year to be the primary guy.
Bowe may want to show up to St. Joe sooner rather than later because Jonathan Baldwin is gunning for his job, and gaining ground fast.
According to Bucky Brooks of NFL.com, Baldwin is presenting overwhelming evidence that he can be an elite receiver in the league.
“Baldwin possesses the size, speed and athleticism to overwhelm defenders in isolated matchups, and he has started to figure out how to utilize his superior physical traits to dominate on the perimeter,” Brooks said in a glowing article. “Chiefs officials raved about his ability to make highlight catches appear routine.”
He’s not alone, either. Kansas City Star columnist Kent Babb highlighted Baldwin’s importance to the Chiefs with Bowe holding out.
“Baldwin has been so good that there’s no panic here. Cassel already looks more comfortable with the youngster than he ever has with Bowe,” Babb said. “There’s more confidence that Baldwin will run a perfect route, will be there when the ball arrives, will hold onto it when it hits his hands. Baldwin has, in offseason practices and in a week of training camp, been everything you want a first-round receiver to be”
Pretty high praise for a guy who missed most of the beginning of 2011 because he broke his hand in a fight with Thomas Jones—an impressive turnaround indeed.
It’s going to be a long time before Tamba Hali has to worry about not having a spot on the Chiefs roster. He’s an impressive presence not only on the field, but in the locker room of a very young Chiefs team. As one of the longest-tenured and most talented players in the organization, his words and actions carry a weight few, if any, other Chiefs players can match.
The most impressive aspect of Hali’s camp thus far is how he seems to have taken that role head on.
When the first team defense isn’t on the field, Hali can be seen working with Tyson Jackson, Derrick Johnson or any other member of the Chiefs front seven in an arm-slapping, hand-swinging match to perfect pass rushing. Engaging his teammates and pushing them constantly shows an ownership of this defense Hali hasn’t been observed doing very often in the past.
But the most telling indicator of his newfound role may be his recent comments about the cantankerous holdout by the player drafted a year after him.
"I don't want to talk about our talent, but we have our players, we have who we need here. Everybody is here ready to go,” Hali said when asked about the overall talent of the team.
But then he slips in a very interesting tidbit.
“We need (WR Dwayne) Bowe to come get ready so we can win this AFC West. We need every guy that's in here, so right now we are focused on the guys that are here."
Very intriguing statement from a guy who rarely talks to the media and it is apparent Hali feels strongly about Bowe skipping out. The fact that he voiced such an opinion and called out his teammate is remarkable, considering his reluctance to be vocal about his leadership in the past.