KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The last couple weeks have been all about dry-erase boards, hours of game tape and seemingly endless time in a classroom at the Kansas City Chiefs’ practice facility.
The last three days? They have been a bit more fun for Alex Smith.
The new quarterback of the Chiefs finally got to spend some time on the field with coach Andy Reid and his new teammates, even if it came during a voluntary three-day minicamp — without pads, in the middle of April, in the echoing quiet of an indoor practice facility.
“It all seems like a blur,” Smith said, “but I think we’ve gotten in great work. We got a ton of reps in, practices were non-stop, there was no wasted time, and I felt like we took advantage of these days. We got better.”
The three-day minicamp is allowed under terms of the collective bargaining agreement to teams that underwent an offseason coaching change — a sort of get-to-know-you kind of workout, one that just happens to be invaluable to teams also undergoing an offseason quarterback change.
Everything has been theoretical for Smith since the trade that sent him from San Francisco to Kansas City. There have been thick binders full of plays, and film of the offense that Reid and new offensive coordinator Doug Pederson intend to run with the Chiefs.
But there hasn’t been an opportunity to get on the field until this week.
On Tuesday, Smith finally got the chance to have Reid and Pederson stand over his shoulder as he unloaded passes to Dwayne Bowe, Dexter McCluster and the rest of his wide receivers. The work continued on Wednesday and wrapped up with some red-zone work on Thursday.
“Before now, everything’s been in the classroom,” Smith said. “We haven’t been able to come out here with coaches, so it’s all been white-board and film-room talk. This is where all the teaching goes on, where all the executing goes on.”
Bowe, who signed a five-year deal to remain with the Chiefs, said he’s already noticed a difference in practices under the new regime.
Things move a bit quicker, for one thing. There is no wasted time, no idle minute. And Bowe said the play-calling is totally different — “This guy likes to go down field, take the top off, and that’s something we haven’t done in the past, score a lot of points,” he said.
The guy taking the snap from center is different, too.
Matt Cassel was released not long after Smith was acquired in the trade, so Bowe and the rest of the wide receivers have a new voice barking out signals at the line of scrimmage.
“Matt was a great quarterback, not taking that from him, but Alex has been in an offense that’s pretty successful year in and year out,” Bowe said, “and just working with someone who has confidence like that, it gives you some confidence.”
Smith isn’t the only new quarterback in the huddle, either. The Chiefs also acquired free-agent Chase Daniel to serve as the backup, and he’s been trying to get up to speed, too.
“They’re really stressing us and making us work. That’s what this job is about,” Daniel said. “If you can’t handle it, you don’t deserve to be here.”
The offense that the Chiefs intend to run should resemble the offense that Reid has run the last few years in Philadelphia. But both quarterbacks said there are elements to it that they’ve seen elsewhere — terminology and basic formations, for example.
“There’s some similarities in the sense that it comes from the West Coast world,” Smith said, “so the structure of the offense, the way we speak, there’s a lot of similarities there, but we’re still learning new terms, new terminology. But the structure is the same.”
Reid acknowledged that the Chiefs are only scratching the surface of what they plan to do on offense, and with Smith, but the three-day head start has proven helpful.
The Chiefs have a rookie minicamp scheduled for May 10-12, but they won’t be able to have competitive practices again until organized team activities begin May 14.
“The guys that were here before us did a good job. We’re just picking up where they left off,” Reid said. “The bottom line is there are some good football players here, and they want to learn, and we want to teach them, and we’re all in this boat together.”
Notes: The Chiefs signed LB Orie Lemon, who worked out with the team during the minicamp. He entered the league as an undrafted free agent with the Dallas Cowboys, and appeared in five games last season with three tackles and one fumble recovery.