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Kansas City Chiefs

Stadium: Arrowhead Stadium | Coach: Andy Reid
Team RankingOverallRushingPassing
Offense2nd150.0 (4th)363.0 (2nd)
Defense31st100.0 (6th)436.0 (32nd)

Cassel leading workouts

The Sports Xchange
 
Notes, Quotes · Cassel leading workouts · Strategy And Personnel
 

Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel led a passing session this week at a Kansas City high school. There were eight players present.

Said wide receiver Jeremy Horne, "This is Matt's deal."

Cassel called plays from the team's playbook and also picked some defensive coverages.

Said wide receiver Dexter McCluster, "He's the quarterback, so he has to know what everybody is doing on every single play. One thing I've learned: Matt knows what he's talking about."

Like a coach, Cassel would point out when routes weren't run correctly, and even had plays repeated if he didn't elike it.

Said Cassel, "I don't want to come out here and just go through the motions. We've got a lot of young guys out here trying to get better. If we come out here and I say, 'Just run a slant,' then they're not thinking about coverages or trying to get better. This is all about, 'Why are we running this route?

"It's also an exercise for myself to be able to stay mentally sharp. We go through the route concepts. We can't get lazy with this. There's no defense out there so there are guys running around open all the time. But it won't be that way in a game. So I'll go through my route progressions, look here, look there, redirect my feet. It's a lot of good work for everybody."

McCluster, who had been working out in Florida, said he had no hesitation when asked by Cassel to be there.

"It's an opportunity to get better," he said. "Sitting at home has not been fun. It feels good to be back here and doing something to get better. I've been working out, but there's nothing like coming back here and getting with the teammates you know. You can do this (in Florida) but it's not the same guys and it's not the same routine."

Cassel said he understands when some players can't be there.

"It's challenging right now getting a lot of guys here with this labor dispute," he said. "A lot of young guys can't afford to be out here. I remember my first and second year; I was staying at my parents' house. Free food and all that. We've got such a young team. Hopefully over the next month or so we'll be able to get more guys out here.

"There's no substitute for having the whole team here. But we're trying to make our best effort to make progress this time of year. We're doing a pretty good job of it."

While there is the risk of injury, McCluster said pass routes were run close to full speed.

"You won't get the same amount of work in if you're going half speed," he said. "The timing will be totally off between you and the quarterback. You want to come out here, run 10 or 15 routes full speed, get the timing down and call it a day."

--The Chiefs decided they needed help for their offense and particularly quarterback Matt Cassel and they were willing to bend a bit in the 2011 NFL Draft to get that help.

By selecting University of Pittsburgh wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin with the 26th pick of the first round Thursday evening, the Chiefs got a talented and very young receiver who had a big sophomore season for the Panthers in 2009 and then saw a drop in production last year. He decided to come out early and as he did, he had some not so nice things to say about his team's offense and his quarterback in the 2010 season.

Those comments paired up with a two-year old assault and harassment incident on campus had the red character flags flying as teams evaluated Baldwin for the draft. They were certainly there for the Chiefs, who last year may have had one of the cleanest draft groups in recent NFL history when it came to personal conduct.

"We've done our due diligence," Haley said. "We had a formal interview with him at the Combine and we brought him in for one of our 30 visits. We are satisfied with what we found."

What they found is a prototype of today's NFL receiver - big (230 pounds), tall (6-4) and fast, with great athletic skills that can stretch a defense and still fight for every pass thrown over the middle. "There's been a transformation in the last few years in the NFL with the receivers," said Haley, an old receivers coach during his climb up the professional ladder. "They are bigger and taller and they can run. They are exceptional talents. That's what he gives us."

The Chiefs' offense has been in desperate need of another receiver to pair with Dwayne Bowe. Last year Bowe had a Pro Bowl season, but twice in the second half of the schedule he was shut out when Denver and Baltimore concentrated their coverage on him and did not worry about the other Kansas City wide receivers.

The drafting of Baldwin is an attempt to even the scales a bit. In 38 games at Pitt, he caught 127 passes for 2,325 yards and 16 touchdowns. He averaged 18.3 yards per catch and had numerous long plays that went for 60 yards or more. That was especially true in his sophomore season of 2009 with a veteran quarterback in Bill Stull he caught 57 passes for 1,111 yards, an average of 19.5 yards per catch.

"I'm a very hard worker," Baldwin said when asked to provide a self-scouting report. "I bring big-play ability to the Chiefs and I do everything I can and everything Coach asks me to do."

As he watched the draft at his home in Aliquippa, Pa., Baldwin had his fingers crossed. "I was hoping and praying that they would select me," Baldwin said of the Chiefs. "I visited out there and really liked it and I think they really liked me. This is a dream come true."

They liked him enough to be a little bit flexible in their judgment of Baldwin.

"He's our type of guy," Haley said of Baldwin. "We want certain types of men who have a standard of how they conduct themselves in both the real world and the football world. He has that."

--Need was the force behind the Chiefs' decisions in the 2011 NFL Draft. General manager Scott Pioli was willing to admit the club's nine draft choices were almost all related to needs, or as Pioli called them "musts."

"We think this draft fell together so we were able to address some big needs and fill them with good players that are going to make us a better football team," Pioli said. "We believe we accomplished something that we talk about consistently - we became a bigger, faster, stronger, smarter, tougher football team through this draft."

And with the possible exception of offensive tackle, they found bodies to fill the major holes in their roster - wide receiver, center, outside linebacker, nose tackle and interior pass rusher.

BEST PICK

Wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin: Baldwin has size (6-4, 230), speed (he's under 4.5) and excellent leaping ability (42-inch vertical.) Opposite wide receiver Dwayne Bowe, he adds balance to the Chiefs' passing game. Suddenly, the offense doesn't look so lopsided towards Jamaal Charles and the running game.

COULD SURPRISE

Outside linebacker Justin Houston: If Houston's drug test at the NFL Combine doesn't come back positive (marijuana) there's no way the Chiefs would have gotten him in the third round. Houston professed great motivation to make things right and prove to the Chiefs his mistake was a one-time thing.

A closer look at the Chiefs' picks:

1/26 - Jonathan Baldwin, WR, 6-4, 230, Pittsburgh

Athletically gifted receiver who has had problems with attitude. The Chiefs needed help for veteran receiver Dwayne Bowe and they judged Baldwin the third best receiver in the draft.

2/55 - Rodney Hudson, C/G, 6-2, 300, Florida State

Smart, quick and durable, Hudson will start his pro career at center; the Chiefs are not sure of the status of 16-year veteran Casey Wiegmann.

3/70 - Justin Houston, OLB, 6-3, 258, Georgia

Houston fell to the third round because of a positive drug test at the NFL Combine. The Chiefs like the skills he displayed in the 3-4 for the Bulldogs.

3/86 - Allen Bailey, DL, 6-3, 288, Miami

An improvement in their interior pass rush and that's where they see Bailey having an immediate effect. For the Hurricanes, he played end and went to tackle in passing situations.

4/118 - Jalil Brown, CB, 6-1, 204, Colorado

Overshadowed by fellow cornerback Jimmy Smith, Brown is big and strong and the Chiefs especially like what they think he can bring to their special teams.

5/135 - Ricky Stanzi, QB, 6-4, 228, Iowa

The Chiefs were most impressed by Stanzi's ability to turn around his numbers at Iowa. In 2009, he was 17 touchdowns to 15 interceptions. Last season, he went 25 touchdowns to just six interceptions.

5/140 - Gabe Miller, OLB, 6-3, 257, Oregon State

A defensive end for the Beavers, the Chiefs will work Miller at outside linebacker due to size and speed. Miller may also get some snaps on offense; he began his college career as a tight end.

6/199 - Jerrell Powe, NT, 6-2, 330, Mississippi

The Chiefs view him as a nose tackle if he can adapt to the two-gap, 3-4 scheme that's run by coordinator Romeo Crennel along the line of scrimmage.

7/223 - Shane Bannon, FB, 6-3, 265, Yale

Bannon played fullback as a junior and then was an H-Back last season. The Chiefs view him as a fullback and like the flexibility he gives them being able to play H-Back as well.

Copyright (C) 2011 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

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