Practice gets physical for the Chiefs as they finally put on the pads


ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs take the next step in their development at training camp Monday, and it's a big one. They'll put on the pads for practice for the first time this year.

Finally the game gets physical for the Chiefs.

"That's the best part about the game," linebacker Tamba Hali said. "I love it, and if you don't like that then this is not the sport for you."

For starters, working in pads means the Chiefs can get in some meaningful work in the running game, which can't really get done without contact.

"All offseason, the run game doesn't get a ton of attention since it is a little pass-heavy," quarterback Alex Smith said. "With that, you get linebackers that drop 15 yards deep and things like that and they don't really respect the run. It'll be nice to get back into real football situations and all those little things."

The Chiefs can also get some good work in on their pass rush and protection, other elements that are hard to evaluate during the offseason and the first couple of days in camp.

"All offseason, protections aren't as big of an emphasis because they can't, the guys don't have pads and the blocking and things like that," Smith said "Now [you can practice protection] because you're going to get distorted pockets and you're going to have to move and slide your feet and make off-balance throws and things like that."

Smith and the other Chiefs quarterbacks wear bright gold practices jerseys, indicating to other players they are not to be touched even after the pads go on. But the quarterbacks have to adapt to the pressure anyway.

"You're going to get pockets that look funny and break down," Smith said. "It's all those things that you've drilled all offseason, but you kind of have to put them into play here. It's really a great exercise of that in practice and it obviously goes into preseason and the season. Certainly that gets stepped up here."

The game also becomes different for the players who aren't so close to the ball when it's snapped, the receivers and defensive backs. Cornerbacks are now free to jam receivers at the line of scrimmage. Receivers have to adapt.

"It gives us a chance to go out there, especially at the line of scrimmage, be able to be physical, working our releases," wide receiver Jeremy Maclin said. "That's something that some of these rookies haven't even done yet. It will give them a chance to give them a little taste of that."