The grass is cut, the locker rooms are stocked with brand new equipment, the coolers are overflowing with water and Gatorade and the players are returning to the field.
The long wasteland that is the period from the end of the NFL draft and offseason OTAs to the beginning of training camp is finally over and football has returned.
Training camp is a time for coaches to try out new schemes they've been dreaming up during offseason. While the players were in weight rooms across the country keeping themselves in football shape, coaches were in film rooms trying to devise new ways to beat the 13 opponents they'll face during the regular season. Yes, training camp is a time to install new plays and evaluate the men running them.
For the players, it's a time to shake off the cobwebs of not playing real football six or seven months. While training in a weight room and running offseason drills is a great way to keep a professional athlete's body physically ready for the rigors of a 16-game football season, there is no better way to train to play football than to play football.
And that is the ultimate goal for these 90 men on each team. To play football.
But, NFL regulations stipulate that each team can field only a 53-man roster at the start of the regular season. That means 37 of the 90 athletes heading to camp won't find themselves on the team they're practicing with—or potentially any team—by the end of the preseason. Training camp isn't just for practice, it's to separate the "haves" from the "have nots." It's a time for competition, not against opposing teams, but within the same team to see who truly is the best at each position.
The 2014 Kansas City Chiefs are no different. Though there are many presumed "locks" on the roster—guys like Alex Smith, Dwayne Bowe, Jamaal Charles, Tamba Hali, and Justin Houston—the fact that the team cut cornerback Brandon Flowers a month ago shows that no one is truly safe from getting a pink slip taped to their locker.
What follows are the top five roster battles that will occur during the Chiefs' training camp at St. Joseph, Missouri over the next few weeks.