ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) — Clark Hunt couldn't help but cringe Monday as he watched Pro Bowl running back Jamaal Charles, two years removed from major knee surgery, haul himself up from a soggy practice field.
The Chiefs' chairman dropped by Missouri Western State University to see his team practice through intermittent showers, and was forced to join the rest of his team in learning exactly what practice is like under Andy Reid.
There's going to be plenty of hitting, even four days into training camp.
"I will say there a few times out there where you hold your breath," Hunt said after ducking under a tent to escape the rain, "and you hope the back or receiver pops back up."
All of them did on this day, although safety Eric Berry left with a minor hamstring injury that was unrelated to the tackling. But the physical nature of the workout nearly two weeks out from the Chiefs' first preseason game is certainly a departure from the norm in Kansas City.
Two years ago, Todd Haley had the Chiefs playing the equivalent of two-hand touch throughout training camp, and the result was a team woefully unprepared for the start of the season.
Hugging was preferred over tackling under Romeo Crennel last season.
Well, all of that is out the window with Reid, who promised during the hands-off offseason program that, well, the gloves would come off when training camp rolled around.
During his time with the Eagles, Reid preferred to hit hard early in training camp and then taper off as the regular season approached. The idea was to toughen up the team early on, and then give them time to heal before the start of a 16-game grind.
Hunt certainly seems to appreciate that strategy.
"Watching practice today was fun. It was much more like watching a game than watching practice," he said. "It gets you ready to play football. Here in a couple weeks we'll be playing preseason games and they're going to tackle to the ground, so from a conditioning standpoint it's valuable, and also from an execution standpoint it's valuable."
The Chiefs put the pads on over the weekend, but the hitting was limited until Monday, when there were about 30 plays of full-tackle practice along with other physical drills.
It didn't matter whether the ball was in the hands of Charles, who bounced back nicely from his knee injury last season, or Tony Moeaki, who suffered his own torn ACL two years ago. If they were in the open field, someone from the defense was bearing down on them.
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