The Chiefs’ Justin Houston may have held out for a while, but he stayed in shape

Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston was determined to come to camp in shape.
Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston was determined to come to camp in shape.

A cool, overcast day would have been ideal for the Chiefs conditioning drill on the day of the first full-squad practice. No such luck.

Saturday dawned hot and humid, but Chiefs coach Andy Reid happily reported all 90 Chiefs passed the test. And linebacker Justin Houston wanted everybody to know that despite missing team activities while seeking and eventually landing a six-year $101 million deal, he was prepared for the exercise.

“I didn’t want to show up out of shape,” Houston said. “I made sure I was ready. I wasn’t sitting around not working. I love working out. I love doing this. It’s what I live for.”

Houston could have held out for more than half the season and still earned an accrued season toward free agency. But he didn’t want that, and the Chiefs were confident they’d see their defensive leader — who set a franchise record with 22 sacks last season — sooner rather than later.

“He makes all of our jobs easier,” linebacker Tamba Hali said. “He’s a dog. He comes out and works every day. He’s a leader.”

The conditioning test was the talk of the day. The test occurred in the morning, and allowed Reid to shorten the afternoon practice. Reid wasn’t specific about the distance, but Hali provided some insight.

“It’s probably one of the hardest things to pass or do, 15 half-gassers (sideline-to-sideline sprints) in 18 seconds with a 45-second rest,” Hali said. “But we pushed through it and got it done.”

It’s not the running. Players are in shape, Hali said.

“Guys get to eight, to nine, to 12, it become mental,” he said. “It’s a mental toughness type of test. Physically, we can run all day. You’ve got to get over the hump in your mind.”

There’s pressure to succeed, or to not fail.

“Look, these guys work the whole offseason, too,” Reid said. “They have a pretty good idea. And I’ve been there as a player. You don’t want to be embarrassed in front of your teammates.”

Saturday, nobody was.

To reach Blair Kerkhoff, call 816-234-4730 or send email to Follow him on Twitter @BlairKerkhoff.

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