ST. JOSEPH, Mo. – NFL training camp is a grind.
Players practice in sweltering summer heat, mental and physical fatigue can set in, and in some cases like the Chiefs, the time is spent away from home.
Most NFL players, especially veterans aren’t fond of training camp, but don’t include quarterback Alex Smith among that group.
“I am pumped that football is back around,” Smith said Tuesday. “We are reporting, this day has come and we will be practicing soon enough here in a few days. I am happy for it to be season time again. The offseason time has been cut down so short that we do not get as much as we used to. I am excited to get the pads on here and get back to football.”
Smith’s stance to camp could be considered rare among his veteran teammates.
But the 11th-year pro’s reasoning surrounds camaraderie, which he compared to a summer youth camp, and the opportunity to build relationships.
“This experience is rare I think in the working world,” Smith said. “It’s like boys camp. We are going away for three to four weeks; staying together, depend on each other and around each other 24/7. Where else do you get to experience anything like this?”
Seeing an established veteran like Smith take a positive attitude for training camp could rub off on rookies reporting for camp Tuesday along with the quarterbacks.
And Smith has a message for his younger teammates set to experience an NFL training camp for the first time.
“You try and come in and make the most of every rep,” Smith said. “The chances you do get, you have to come out prepared and try and make the most of it. You cannot dwell on it. Do not be looking too far down the road, do not be dreading camp, how long it is and do not be thinking about preseason games at this point. For us, you basically get one practice a day now with the rules and a walk through, but you just really have to go out there and take advantage of it.”
Chiefs rookies, quarterbacks and select players practice Wednesday through Friday, with veterans reporting Friday afternoon.
The team’s first full practice commences Saturday before breaking training camp Aug. 20, but the opportunity for veteran quarterbacks Smith, Chase Daniel and Aaron Murray to get in early work isn’t overlooked by the coaching staff.
“You get to knock a little of that rust off that took place maybe the last five weeks, although they’ve been throwing like crazy,” coach Andy Reid said Tuesday. “They can get back into the swing of things, get the verbiage back down. So when the veterans come in, they’re ready to go and they just jump right in it and they’re ripping it. I think it’s a nice little lead-in for them.”
Daniel agreed with his head coach.
“Alex and I were talking yesterday, I think it’s good for us quarterbacks to get in and sort of get in the groove of things,” Daniel said. “Not only mentally, but physically as well. We usually go two or three days here and it just gets us ready for the vets. When they get here, we get a dose of the install again for the second time and it just gets our mind and brain moving.”
In the meantime, some players may harbor personal feelings about going through the annual summer grind before the start of the regular season.
But Smith openly covets the opportunity to be back with teammates to develop chemistry.
“It is special,” Smith said. “Obviously, with the heat it can be tough at times, but everything around from the meetings, to the practice and all the time in between in the cold tubs, training room or locker room. It’s a really special time. I think it’s where teams become teams.”