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What we learned on NFL's first day of minicamps

The 2013 NFL Draft is a little more than a week away. The schedule is released on Thursday. And yet, I can't help but get more excited about the "voluntary" minicamp stories coming out of seven NFL cities this week.

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Actual footballs are being thrown on actual football fields this week, even if "football" isn't exactly being played. (Forget tackling. Heck, forget the offense and defense even playing each other.)

Still, there are nuggets to glean as seven new head coaches put their stamp on their organizations. Here's what I learned from Tuesday's practices:

1. New Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith connected on a deep touchdown to Terrance Copper over new Chiefs cornerback Dunta Robinson during Smith's first day at the helm.

"He puts the ball on the money," cornerback Brandon Flowers told the Kansas City Star.

Translation: At least he's better than Matt Cassel.

2. New Chiefs pickup Akeem Jordan lined up as a starter at linebacker, according to the Kansas City Star. Dunta Robinson lined up as a starter at cornerback, with Sean Smith the third cornerback. Flowers moved inside to the slot in the team's nickel package.

3. As expected, Chiefs left tackle Branden Albert was the only player not in attendance for Kansas City. Tight end Tony Moeaki was the only player not on the field; he's coming off another knee surgery. The Chiefs signed Anthony Fasano this offseason, possibly because they can't count on Moeaki.

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4. Michael Vick and Nick Foles split reps at quarterback at Philadelphia Eagles' practice, which isn't a surprise. New coach Chip Kelly is using this week to evaluate, telling reporters that what he gleans will lead to some draft decisions. Danny Watkins lined up as the team's starting right guard, with Todd Herremens at right tackle. Jason Peters, recovered from his torn Achilles tendon, was on the field at left.

5. The Buffalo Bills see second-year pro Nigel Bradham as a three-down linebacker that can cover and blitz. He's going to be a starter.

6. The Bills are trying to salvage cornerback Aaron Williams by moving him to safety. Tim Graham of the Buffalo News pointed out that the Bills took Williams at No. 34 in the 2011 draft; Andy Dalton went No. 35 and Colin Kaepernick No. 36.

7. The Chicago Bears are moving 2011 first-round pick Gabe Carimi to guard. They can spin this any way they want, but this is a disappointment. They drafted him to be a tackle. Carimi was lining up as a backup at guard.


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8. Devin Hester didn't take a single snap at wide receiver in the minicamp. He's all special teams, all the time now. As expected.

9. Two mainstays from the offseason: Coaches talking about practice "tempo" and "aggressiveness." I read multiple accounts that said Marc Trestman's Bears practice was faster paced than anything under Lovie Smith.

10. The most interesting thing to come out of Chicago on Tuesday: Jay Cutler saying he's going to play out his contract year, just like Joe Flacco last year. That's no surprise, but it raises an interesting subplot to the Bears' season. Cutler has to prove himself to the new coaching staff.

11. It only took one day for the Associated Press to say Blaine Gabbert "struggled" in his first minicamp session. We'd warn against any evaluations on performance until training camp. These are teaching sessions.

Sorry, Arizona Cardinals and San Diego Chargers fans. I looked for nuggets from your camp. There wasn't much to pass along yet. It's early.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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