Your interpretation of whether the simultaneous Chiefs/Cardinals practice today in St. Joe lived up to the hype depends on if you want to have your glass half full or half empty.
Half full: Today was the most entertaining day of practice the team has had. (I emphasize day because Family Fun Day under the lights in the Stadium is usually the liveliest practice of any team’s training camp.)
Half empty: It was just a normal practice with the only noticeable difference being there were twice as many players on the field.
We complain about the intensity level of preseason games. We were hoping this would turn into a scrimmage. We were hoping for fights. And what we got, anticlimactically, was an oversized practice.
Sure, there were some cool moments, like when Eric Berry went to the front of the line in wide receiver vs defensive back drills to assure he was matched up with Larry Fitzgerald. Fitz got the best of Berry 2 out of 3 times, but you’ve got to love the message that sends that your best wanted to go up against their best. I also enjoyed having my attention diverted from one field to the other because of the ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ Peyton Hillis elicited from the crowd when he ran over a Cardinal linebacker in a drill that otherwise had limited contact.
But those moments were few and far between because the fact is, these teams came into today with different objectives. The Cardinals were coming off their 1st preseason game Sunday night and given the quick turnaround, didn’t want to travel all the way across the country. The Chiefs meanwhile, just released their first depth chart and are trying to gauge how ready they are for their first game where they keep score in about 7 months.
One thing I’ll say before I wrap this up with a few random notes and observations is that even if you’re like me and came away underwhelmed with the today’s entertainment value, it was better than a normal day of training camp by a wide margin. The Chiefs are a team with a few stagnant story lines (Cassel, Bowe, Poe, ACL crew) and no intriguing position battles. So to get them out on the field against another NFL team, and hear the crowd cheer scoring plays because when the Chiefs made a good play – it was at the expense of a guy on another team. And given the monotony of training camp, I think the players, media, and fans will take that any day of the week.
• Baldwin had another practice with multiple fantastic plays, and even got the best of standout cornerback Patrick Peterson for a catch over the middle. His personal best came when he reached over undersized 5-8 corner Michael Adams for an ‘over-the-back’ in basketball style catch on the sideline. He had a touchdown in the red zone and made a nice catch against good coverage by William Gay as well, but if this were a game his catch over Adams would’ve been a thing for the highlight reels.
• Sometimes it’s the little things that can reveal why the best are the best. At one of the many points in today’s practice where players were standing around, Tamba Hali was literally the only one on either field working. He was going full speed with an assistant coach on a drill where he would knock the coach’s hands off his body and continue to do various moves designed to prevent offensive linemen from being able to engage. There’s a reason why we’re penciling him in for 10+ sacks again this year.
• We need to put a moratorium on Ricky Stanzi talk. Matt Cassel is the starter. Brady Quinn will be the backup. And Stanzi will once again be relegated to carrying a clipboard barring some sort of disaster. There was a 3 play sequence when they were working on the 2-minute drill where Stanzi threw a pass that should have been intercepted, was so wild on the next one where nobody could catch it, and then followed it up by throwing a pick. Fellow Hawkeye Danan Hughes came up to me after practice and to put it kindly, wasn’t impressed. He wasn’t alone.
• Brandon Flowers tried to go at the beginning of practice but didn’t last very long. We weren’t given an update on his status but he should be fine. It’ll be interesting to see if he plays Friday night though after trying to give it a go today and ultimately bowing out.