Adjustments continue in rookie minicamp

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Two afternoons of practice are officially in the books, with one more day to go on Monday to conclude the Chiefs’ three-day rookie minicamp.

May 25, 2014; Kansas City, MO; Chiefs rookie OT Laurent Duvernay-Tardif addressing media during Day Two of rookie minicamp at the team’s training facility. Credit: Teope.
May 25, 2014; Kansas City, MO; Chiefs rookie OT Laurent Duvernay-Tardif addressing media during Day Two of rookie minicamp at the team’s training facility. Credit: Teope.

The practice tempo Sunday remained fast during 11-on-11 drills, but this time around appeared to offer fewer mistakes compared to Saturday.

Quarterback Aaron Murray, who threw four interceptions the previous day, only had one. His pick came courtesy of undrafted free-agent signing, former Tennessee-Martin inside linebacker Ben Johnson.

Of course, one of the biggest storylines from Day One was Murray’s ability to practice without limitations even with a brace on his left leg.

That carried over, as Murray once again showed no hesitation to tuck the ball and run when the pocket collapsed around him.

While the former Georgia Bulldog will battle rust considering he’s six months removed from a knee operation, it’s important to keep in mind the layoff and he’s throwing mostly to fellow rookies.

And of course, everyone is in shorts and helmet, making it difficult to properly assess full performance.

Here are other Sunday observations:

Gaines settling in. Cornerback Phillip Gaines, the team’s third-round pick (87th overall), had an interception on Saturday and looks comfortable among the rookies.

It’s probably for good reason.

The former Rice Owl has familiarity with the Chiefs’ defensive scheme based on his college experience playing in press-man coverage. Knowing what to expect helped his transition to what’s he’s seen so far in minicamp.

“It’s very similar,” Gaines said of the scheme comparison. “A lot of the time we press-man and it kind of takes away thinking for corners. When you don’t have to think, you can play as fast as you want. Like you said, at Rice and here there is a lot of press-man, so it’s all good.”

Still, Gaines knows he has some areas to work on before the Chiefs are in full pads, mostly his technique.

“I’m really working on hand placement,” he said, “feet movement and staying in front of the receiver because we don’t have pads on, so we can’t get into them too much. You just want to stay in front of them, have good technique and run with them up the field.”

Gaines, who left Rice weighing 185 pounds, said he arrived in Kansas City at 183 pounds. But he didn’t sound concerned about gaining weight in the coming months before the start of the regular season.

“I’m sure once I start eating right and lifting right,” Gaines said, “I could definitely get to the 190s consistently.”

Moving around. It’s early in the offseason process, but it’s also a good sign offensive tackle Laurent Duvernay-Tardif has versatility.

Duvernay-Tardif, the second of the Chiefs two sixth-rounds picks, played right tackle on Saturday. But he moved inside Sunday, a position he became familiar with since being drafted and prior to the minicamp.

“Over the last two weeks I was practicing as a guard,” Duvernay-Tardif said before the afternoon practice. “Yesterday (Saturday) I went as a tackle, I don’t know exactly why, but today I’m going back as a guard.”

With Duvernay-Tardif moved to guard, Ryan McKee, a tryout invite from Southern Mississippi, played left tackle.

Duvernay-Tardif, who said he currently weighs 307 pounds, has been playing organized football for nine years, the first seven on the defensive line before switching to the offensive line in 2011.

The McGill University product said while he played various positions on the offensive line in college, he added he’s more comfortable on the left side at tackle or guard.

And that flexibility could come in handy once organized team activities (OTAs) kick off in full bloom as the Chiefs attempt to identify and develop a swing tackle.

But even then, he’ll also have to adjust to the speed of the outside pass rushers in the NFL from what he was accustomed to facing in Canada.

“Well, of course it’s different,” Duvernay-Tardif said of the speed he’s faced in minicamp. “But especially the alignment where I’m not used to having a rusher that far on the edge. So I think I just need to get used to guys that are more vertical and I think I’m going to be able to catch that.”

Calm before the storm. There are numerous positions primed for competition, but one battle sure to command attention is wide receiver since the Chiefs didn’t address it during the NFL Draft.

The Chiefs currently have 11 wide receivers under contract, and six are participating in rookie minicamp: Weston Dressler, Frankie Hammond, Jerrell Jackson, Darryl Surgent, Fred Williams and Albert Wilson.

Each had moments the past two days in shorts and helmet, with Jackson leading the way on the first day with nice grabs, and Dressler not far behind.

Sunday saw Dressler step to the plate again with a pair of athletic grabs during 11-on-11 drills. The first came on a nifty sideline catch where he extended to catch the ball while keeping his feet in the field of play. The second came on a sliding catch down the middle of the field between two defenders.

In the meantime, this can’t be stressed enough – it’s important to not get carried away with too much from rookie minicamp. While the catches are nice to observe, the reality is the receivers are also going against rookie cornerbacks.

The real fun occurs when the entire team comes together for OTAs and training camp. How the wide receivers perform against veteran cornerbacks and once the team is in full pads with contact will offer a proper gauge.

Crash course. That best describes the previous two days and likely Monday’s final day of rookie minicamp for running back/specialist De’Anthony Thomas, who will miss the next set of OTAs due to Oregon’s quarter system.

Thomas, who will be back for the mandatory OTAs on June 17-19, has shown a nice burst in shorts and helmet, and flashed the speed he’s known for.

While some could fear the former Oregon Duck will fall behind as he misses the OTAs on May 27-29, June 3-5 and June 10-13, there is one thing that will surely stick in his mind.

And that’s the booming voice of running backs coach Eric Bieniemy, who yelled, “Finish! Finish! Finish!” any time Thomas or any of the running backs had the ball.

Status check. The Chiefs wrapped up the second day Sunday afternoon, moving 64 players outdoors after practicing indoors on Saturday with 65.

Absent was defensive tackle Risean Broussard, who signed a reserve/future deal with the Chiefs on Jan. 29. He’s listed at 6-foot-2, 278 pounds.

The Chiefs are expected to update Broussard’s status Monday.