By TEREZ A. PAYLOR
The Kansas City Star
After an uneven start that began with several incomplete passes, the skill players really picked it up despite a faint drizzle that never really stopped. WR Donnie Avery kicked things off by catching a pass on a slant route in front of S Neiko Thorpe and broke for a big gain. On the very next play, Avery made a diving catch near the sideline on an out route that drew applause from the crowd. He caught another deep ball from quarterback Alex Smith and finished off the practice with an over-the-shoulder catch near the sideline in which he may or may not have managed to keep his feet inbounds.
Other players who made highlight-reel catches included rookie TE Travis Kelce, who reached up and caught a wobbly pass by Smith with one hand, and WR Tyler Shoemaker, who caught a pass near the right sideline over a defender who had his back turned to the ball downfield. FB Anthony Sherman proved to be a tough runner to bring down, as he reached the second level on time and collided with safety Quintin Demps, causing Demps’ helmet to fly off. Rookie RB Knile Davis also delivered some punishment when he took a handoff, sped down the right sideline and bowled over a defender over a gain of around 20 yards.
RB Jamaal Charles showed his trademark skills, using his speed and moves to avoid big hits and gain extra yards. But he drew an audible groan from the crowd when he dropped a toss that was recovered by the defense. WR Jon Baldwin dropped a pass that hit him directly in his chest.
Rookie LB Nico Johnson, who gained a reputation as a solid run defender during his time at Alabama, showed FB Anthony Sherman what the hype was all about in 11-on-11, as he chased Sherman to the sideline and delivered the first big blow of the day. Demps, who was filling in at first-team safety for the injured Eric Berry, made a similar hit when he flew in from the secondary and smashed Dexter McCluster in the right flat, breaking up a pass. Rookie CB Otha Foster intercepted a Ricky Stanzi pass. The play would have likely been returned for a touchdown if the coaching staff had not whistled the play dead.
S Eric Berry left practice with a sore hamstring. G Jeff Allen (shoulder), CB Dunta Robinson (hamstring), FB Braden Wilson (hamstring), DL Marcus Dixon (hamstring) and CB Sanders Commings (collarbone) were out.
Practice starts at 8:15 a.m. and is free and open to the public.
37: The number of minutes defensive end Tamba Hali stayed after practice to sign autographs for fans. He later said he did it because it was raining and he wanted to thank them for their support.