It became a common sight during one-on-one pass rush drills the past few weeks of Chiefs training camp. No. 97 in the white jersey, all 300-plus pounds of him, using his comic book-ish combination of mass and strength to put an offensive lineman on skates with his bull rush.
It mattered little who was lined up across from Allen Bailey. Even Ben Grubbs, the two-time Pro Bowler who has immediately become the Chiefs’ best lineman, was put flat on his back.
“You’ve got to start off with that,” said Bailey, a defensive lineman. “I mean, you’ve always got to start off with something to make them sit. So my bull, I worked on for a good year. So once I got it right … they know it’s coming but they still can’t stop it at times.”
You might think this would cause some good-natured complaining from Bailey’s offensive line counterparts in practice.
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“They don’t really say too much,” Bailey said with a chuckle. “They’ve got to catch their breath.”
Perhaps that’s why Chiefs coach Andy Reid — when asked if he enjoyed watching Bailey’s bull rush — simply started nodding his head and chuckling before answering in the affirmative.
“Yeah, he is a bull — he’s a strong guy,” said Reid, who regularly watches the cut ups of one-on-one pass-rush drills. “To be built like he is — that big and proportional — the way he is put together is something.
“He’s a strong human being and he’s even a better person than he is a football player, which makes it great. He brings intensity every day, works his tail off, and never says anything. I love watching him.”
The offensive linemen who have to line up across from Bailey and block his bull rush are understandably less enthusiastic.
“It’s explosive, to say the least,” rookie center Mitch Morse said. “He gets down in this coil, he really does. He gets down in this (stance) and you’re like ‘Oh, here it comes, bro.’
“But he’ll do that and hit you with the quick swim, too. So if you’re not in perfect position, it’s going to be ugly.”
Part of this is, again, is because of Bailey’s combination of size and strength. A third-round pick in 2011, Bailey entered the NFL as an athletic 278-pounder. He’s always thought of himself as a smaller guy — he wanted to be an inside linebacker at Miami and moved to defensive end as an upperclassman — and even though he continues to grow larger, he’s managed to maintain most of his athleticism.
“I was avoiding 300 my whole life, honestly,” Bailey said with a cackle. “Through college, through my first couple of years in the league, I was avoiding 300.
“But my body, you know, got used to it. Made it do what it do. I couldn’t deny it anymore. I tried to deny it as long as I can.”
Now, the 6-foot-3 Bailey says he’s about 302 pounds, a little more than last year, when he opened camp at 293 pounds in an effort to be more stout against the run. And it’s all muscle.
“I carry it like a small guy,” Bailey said. “People try to guess my weight. I went to the county fair a couple years ago. You know that little game where they guess your weight before you step on the scale? A dude said I was 275. I got on there, I was 291.”
But don’t think Bailey’s bull rush prowess as simple as it being one giant guy bowling over other giant guy. Bailey’s technique with the move is there, too.
“I had to develop the hat and hand placement with the bull rush — it’s all about that,” Bailey said. “Sometimes you can be too high and you lose power, or you can be too low with your hat and it will pull you down.”
Scary thing is, Bailey — who set career highs last season with 41 tackles and five sacks — is confident he hasn’t hit his ceiling as a football player.
The Chiefs apparently agreed, signing Bailey to a four-year, $25 million deal last October that kept him from exploring free agency in March.
“He’s a young guy and every day he’s going to give you work — that’s how he approaches it,” Reid said, citing Bailey’s high-effort play. “He’s a pro and you don’t mind paying those guys. That’s what it’s about; for them to make a living for themselves and their families for now and for the rest of their life. The ones that come to work every day and prepare like he does — that’s a treat to pay those guys.”
Now Bailey has to earn his money, especially with two-time Pro Bowl nose tackle Dontari Poe out for an undetermined amount of time.
Bailey will again be a constant on the Chiefs’ interior in their nickel and dime packages, and he’s confident he won’t be a won’t be a one-trick pony on passing downs, either.
“I’ve got other things I can add to it,” Bailey said of the bull rush. “You always want three good, main rushes you can always go to. You don’t need six or seven rushes. You need three, and you’re good.”
Bailey, understandably, didn’t want to name is other go-to moves, but insisted they’re in his arsenal.
“Yeah, I’m working on them,” Bailey said. “And they’re all coming off the bull rush.”