KANSAS CITY, Mo. —Time always creeps up on a coaching staff, and that's particularly true for the Chiefs in this most unusual of training camps. The first of two roster cutdown dates already looms after Friday night's game against St. Louis at Arrowhead Stadium.
"As coaches, you're never happy,'' coach Todd Haley said. "You want more, more, more and more time. It's always good.''
Haley went on to say he believed the Chiefs were making progress in their player evaluations. But in a year without any offseason practices and where the Chiefs have been limited to one training camp session per day, they will have to make some snap judgments on which players make the roster and which players don't.
The Chiefs, who have 89 players on their roster, must cut to a maximum of 80 by next Tuesday and then the regular-season limit of 53 by Sept. 3.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
This year, players with one specific skill have a good chance of making the team as long as they do it well. For last week's game in Baltimore, the Chiefs looked at several players in specialized roles.
"In that game, you saw Allen Bailey just as a (pass) rusher,'' Haley said of the rookie defensive end. "Not that that's what he is for sure, but we were able to evaluate him in that role. Cameron Sheffield only was on the (pass) rush team, so you didn't see him at linebacker. Not that he's not in the competition (at linebacker), but for last week that's the direction we chose. Now I think you'll see some of those guys get a few more snaps at a base position, and that's across the board.
"That helped with the evaluation. We're going to have to crunch numbers, and guys will have to cross-train, but right now . . . I feel like we've made significant progress as far as our understanding of what our guys can do.''
Haley indicated one or two younger players could make the final roster on special-teams ability alone.
"I don't think I'm ready to say who, but I do think there are a couple of guys that maybe are not ready for prime time at their particular position but are starting to really flash (on special teams),'' he said.
"You might see some guys that just play special teams. We just don't have the time... either to see what we need to on special teams (from another player) or see what we need to see from that guy at (his) position.
"I don't know that there's just one guy I could pick out. What's evident to me is I saw much better team speed on special teams. I feel like (in 2009) we were one speed, and last year I felt like we were faster but still needed to improve. This year is the most speed I've seen from our (special teams), regardless of who's in there.''
A couple of younger players who could make the roster based on special teams are wide receiver Verran Tucker and linebacker Cory Greenwood. Both players were rookies last season. Tucker started a couple of games last year but has been pushed down the depth chart by the wide-receiving acquisitions.
Greenwood is from Canada and played in college at Concordia University of Montreal. He made the roster last season because of special teams and was one of the Chiefs' better players in that area.
"Before last year, I'd never played 11-man football,'' Greenwood said. "There are a lot of differences. The size of the field is different. There's one less guy on the field down here. The one thing that translates from the Canadian game to the NFL is special teams. It's just running down, covering kicks, tackling guys, blocking guys.
"If it was up to my linebacker play, there's no way I would have made the team last year. The techniques are completely different, especially in a 3-4 defense. They don't really play that in Canada.''
At other spots, roster decisions could be based on the better special-teams player and not necessarily the best player at a given position.
"It will have a big role,'' said reserve safety Donald Washington, another player who could stick because of his play on special teams. "Guys who can play special teams and play defense will have a better shot to make it.''