Illness makes team thin at linebacker
Starting outside linebacker Justin Houston was absent for the afternoon practice Saturday. The Chiefs said Houston was sick. Houston participated in a light practice earlier in the day.
Houston’s doesn’t figure to be out of the lineup for a lengthy period. But even a temporary absence shines a light on the Chiefs’ lack of depth at outside linebacker. The Chiefs are obviously happy with starters Tamba Hali, who went to the Pro Bowl last year, and Houston, who emerged as a big-play linebacker toward the end of his rookie season.
Andy Studebaker, who started five games last season before Houston took his place, was the starter in Saturday’s practice. The other outside linebackers are two former fifth-round draft picks, Cameron Sheffield and Gabe Miller. Sheffield has shown some pass-rush skills, but not consistently. Miller missed all of his rookie season because of an injury.
Heat is factored in to practices
After relatively mild temperatures greeted the Chiefs for the first couple of days at training camp, things will begin to heat up. The temperature is predicted to hit 100 in St. Joseph today and then get into the upper 90s during the week.
Coach Romeo Crennel said for now he doesn’t plan to alter the times of practice or move practice to the indoor facility at Missouri Western. The practice schedule is the same most days, with an hourlong walkthrough beginning at 10:30 a.m. and then a practice starting at 3:20.
A night practice is scheduled for Tuesday, and the Chiefs won’t practice Wednesday.
Asked why the Chiefs don’t have their more physically demanding practice in the morning, when temperatures are lower, Crennel said, “Because it’s tougher in the afternoon. It’s hotter, and they have to push themselves more.
“We have to be cognizant of the heat and how much work they’re doing and things like that. We might have to start giving them more breaks, more time to take the helmets off and get some of that heat away from their bodies. But so far it’s been ideal weather, so we shouldn’t have to go to that yet.”
“I’ll give them more breaks. But if it looks like it’s going to be an extended 110 temperature week, then we might flop it and go in the morning.”
Crennel acknowledged he’s struggling with how to design a practice schedule under NFL rules that allow one practice per day plus a walkthrough. The Chiefs aren’t allowed to wear full pads in all of their practices.
“Anytime there’s a rule change, early on the adaptation is tough, particularly on old-school guys like myself. But in time, everybody gets adjusted to the new rule and … you try to get the most out of it.”