ST. JOSEPH, Mo. – Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith spoke on the value of training camp earlier in the week and why he looks forward to it.
Smith pointed out the camaraderie built during camp, but his view of fully embracing arriving for camp isn’t widely regarded as typical with established veterans.
Friday offered proof the 11th-year pro isn’t alone.
The reasons, however, are different for linebacker Derrick Johnson and defensive end Mike DeVito, both of whom return after spending last season on injured reserve with ruptured Achilles tendons.
Johnson, who enters his 11th season, said he “feels great” to be back in camp following a lost 2014 season.
“Whenever you can have your health and strength back, your body is your moneymaker,” Johnson said. “Whenever you have that back, be back with the guys, that’s the exciting part.
“I missed a lot of football last year, so to actually be back with the guys, even though this training camp is going to suck physically, that’s just what it is. At the same time, I’m excited. When you get something taken away from you and you can get it back, I’m going to take advantage of it this year.”
DeVito, a ninth-year pro, shared Johnson’s enthusiasm.
“I really am excited,” DeVito said. “I’ll tell you what, I’ve been up in northern Maine – it’s a little bit cooler up there than down here, but I am excited to be here and excited to get going. It’s been a long wait coming off an injury and all the work that I have put in to get back to this point. So I’m really excited to get back out there and put it to the test.”
Questions surrounding if either veteran has lost a step are sure to come as the Chiefs enter preparations for the 2015 regular season.
And Johnson is fully aware of the concerns.
“It’s one of those things where I’m coming off an injury,” he said, “and everybody wants to see, ‘Has he lost his step? Is he back to normal? Is he back to form?’ I got a lot of stuff to prove, so I can’t wait.”
So, is the three-time Pro Bowl linebacker truly back from his injury?
“Oh yeah,” Johnson emphatically said. “No question. I’ll make sure I show that as soon as I step on the field.”
DeVito’s approach to training camp surrounds conditioning.
He said his goal during the offseason is to maintain weight between 305 to 310 pounds, but he likes to keep it as “better weight” and cut fat.
“My condition is really good, really good,” he said. “I focused on it again this summer and in this offseason, and I focused on my diet and I feel great.”
With the veterans reporting Friday, the Chiefs will hold the first full team practice of training camp on Saturday afternoon.
And while other veterans may not like working out in the Midwest summer heat, DeVito enthusiastically looks forward to being back on the grind with an appreciation of what he went through last year.
“You are getting back into the groove and football goes from zero to 100 real quick,” DeVito said. “But when you have been sitting around waiting for a year watching and getting ready to get back, you couldn’t be more excited.”