ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — The Chiefs have another break from training camp today before returning for another work week on Monday. They’ll have some company at Missouri Western State University when the Arizona Cardinals arrive.
The teams will hold a joint practice on Tuesday. The Chiefs and Cardinals will work separately on Wednesday. They will then meet Friday night at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City’s preseason opener.
For many of the Chiefs’ young players hoping for a roster spot, it’s a big week. Coach Romeo Crennel indicated that for evaluation purposes, Tuesday’s practice might carry the most weight of any during training camp and that the practice video might be the most scrutinized by the coaches.
“They’re going against a different person, a different player that they really don’t know,” Crennel said. “As you work against your own teammates, you get to know the strong points, the weak points, what they like to do. When you’ve got a completely different guy you’re going against, it’s good for us to get that evaluation to see how our players will be able to react against their players.”
Otherwise, the practice will look similar to the regular camp workouts. The teams will not scrimmage.
“The thing I want to emphasize is that it is practice,’’ Crennel said. “We’re going to follow a similar script to what we do in our practices.”
As far as Friday night’s game, Crennel said he will take a more traditional approach to the preseason than used last year, when their starters played little in the first couple of exhibition games.
“You build during the preseason,’’ he said. “We’ll build with the starters and gradually give them more time as we go through the preseason. Part of the preseason is to try to evaluate the young players, so see what they can do under pressure and see what they can do when the lights are on. If we can get a good evaluation on those guys that can help us make good decisions come cutdown time.’’
“I mentioned that to (the players) as well, that the game will be here before you know it. So they have to get as much done as they can to improve their game before Friday night.’’
Lilja at center — It happened only for a few snaps during practice on Saturday, but veteran guard Ryan Lilja worked some at center. The issue wasn’t an injury to the starting center Rodney Hudson, who later came back into the lineup.
It’s more about depth. The Chiefs have no obvious candidate for a backup to Hudson. They’ve been using three developmental players, Rob Bruggeman, Lucas Patterson and Cam Holland, at center but they may not feel comfortable keeping one of them on the game-day roster.
So they might wind up using Lilja as the emergency center with rookie Jeff Allen sliding into Lilja’s spot at left guard.
A faster start — The Chiefs dug a hole for themselves last year with an 0-3 start that was the result of a miserable training camp and a disjointed preseason. To a man, the Chiefs believe they will be far more prepared for the Sept. 9 season opener against Atlanta than they were for the start of the season last year.
“We’re only a week into it but there’s definitely been a point of emphasis on a fast start,’’ quarterback Matt Cassel said. “It’s very important for us as a team to get ready to go because within a month we’re going to have the Atlanta Falcons at home.
“There’s been a point of emphasis from coach (Romeo) Crennel and also when you get into our offensive meetings with (offensive coordinator Brian) Daboll that hey, it’s pivotal that we have a fast start.’’