Put to the test: Haley sends Chiefs through tough physicals on Day 1

RIVER FALLS, Wis. -- The Kansas City Chiefs didn't get a leisurely day of meetings and meals to kick off training camp.

They ran. Not just a shake-out-the-cobwebs run. A timed run, the last part of their pre-camp physicals. Don't make time, don't practice Saturday.

Clearly, this isn't the pat-on-the back, glad-to-see-you greeting the Chiefs got from coach Herm Edwards. New boss Todd Haley is all business, all the time. His players will be in shape or they won't practice.

"In every situation, we're competing; everything is a competition," center Rudy Niswanger said Friday. "Everything is a battle, and the guys are thriving on it."

Well, not everyone. A handful of players didn't pass their physicals and will miss Saturday's practices.

Haley didn't say which players didn't pass -- defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey acknowledged he was one -- saying only that it was a handful and not all were because of a failed conditioning test. No one was expected to be out long term.

"There were some surprises both ways, you could say," Haley said. "Overall, it was about what I expected. I was pleased. It's a difficult portion of the physical, and as a whole I felt pretty good."

The Chiefs knew what to expect.

After two years under Edwards, Haley has put his imprint on this struggling franchise with a foot to the backside. Mistakes are not tolerated. Excuses are even worse. Get it right or hear about it from Haley.

And you better be in shape.

Haley installed a rigorous offseason workout program to get players to lose weight, hoping better conditioning would lead to better results late in games and prevent a fade late in the season. The players responded by dropping their forks, peeling off 340 pounds of collective winter flab.

The key was keeping the beef at bay.

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With a little more than a month between the end of offseason workouts and the start of camp, Haley gave players a subtle-as-a-train-horn nudge toward staying in shape with the pre-camp conditioning test. So instead of getting their bearings before the first round of two-a-days, the Chiefs lined up on the field at 10 a.m. to run three 300-yard shuttle runs by an assigned time, which varied by position.

"It's all mental at the end," offensive tackle Barry Richardson said. "At the beginning, you're in shape and can do it, but the end tests your mind: are (you) going to give in or are you going to finish."

One player didn't even get a chance to attempt the test: first-round pick Tyson Jackson. The defensive end from LSU was still working out a contract with the team and hadn't arrived in River Falls.

Even as the No. 3 overall pick in the draft, Jackson has no special status with Haley. In fact, the first-year coach won't talk about Jackson until he sees him in Wisconsin.

The way Haley sees it, there's no other way to approach fixing this franchise than take a no-one-above-the-team approach.

The Chiefs won six games the past two seasons. This season, the team has a fresh start -- a new coach, a new GM and 36 new players. The offensive and defensive schemes changed, the mindset, too. There's even a refurbished Arrowhead Stadium to put it all in.

As they start the final training camp in River Falls -- next year it moves to St. Joseph, Mo. -- the Chiefs get their first glimpse of whether all those changes will do any good.

"Going into camp, there's definitely a feeling of excitement," Niswanger said. "Everything is so new for us. It's a new day, a new year, and we're excited about the possibilities."

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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