Chiefs’ top pick Dee Ford focused on keeping a level head

Chiefs linebacker Dee Ford
Chiefs linebacker Dee Ford The Kansas City Star

When veteran inside linebacker Joe Mays was asked recently about first-round draft pick Dee Ford, he did what other Chiefs have done — praised the young pass rusher by comparing him to a highly accomplished star.

“That guy is explosive,” said Mays, a seventh-year pro. “He’s quick off the ball. He kind of reminds me of Von Miller with the way that he gets off the ball and gets around the offensive linemen.

“He’s a freak. He knows how to work angles and uses his hands real well. He can bend and do all types of stuff you don’t see in the everyday pass rushers.”

Miller has 35 career sacks in his first three seasons with the Denver Broncos. But his resume pales compared with Chiefs legend and Hall of Famer Derrick Thomas, whose name was cautiously evoked by veteran outside linebacker Tamba Hali and even team chairman Clark Hunt over the past month when asked for their impressions of Ford.

But while Ford, who made 20 1/2 sacks over his five-year career at Auburn, indeed thinks highly of his ability — remember, he boasted before the draft that he considered himself to be a better pass rusher than eventual No. 1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney — he’s now saying all the right things, at least publicly.

“I’m honored, flattered,” Ford said. “I’m just going to keep doing what I do. Hopefully I can prove it in games. It’s one thing to say it in OTAs but I’ve got to prove it in games.

“I don’t want to think too much of it and get big headed, because that’s natural to do. But I’m just going to keep doing what I do and perfect it.”

Now that he’s a professional, Ford — who, by all accounts, is a fun-loving guy — appears to be serious about the perfecting part, too. He said football takes up roughly 90 percent of his day, which he’s fine with, and added that the adjustment from college hasn’t caught him by surprise.

“No, it’s everything (I thought),” Ford said. “I listened to what people said before I got here. We’ve had tons and tons and tons of meetings about what to expect. So I’m really listening and it’s really everything I expected.”

But when asked, jokingly, if there have been too many meetings, his response proved his recent foray in the real world wasn’t dulled his sense of humor.

“Don’t get me in trouble,” Ford said with a laugh.

Mandatory minicamp starts Tuesday

Friday’s practice will mark the 10th and final voluntary minicamp practice of the Chiefs’ organized team activities. The first practice of the team’s mandatory three-day minicamp begins Tuesday — after which players aren’t required to report again until training camp in late July.

Fullback Anthony Sherman doesn’t expect minicamp to be much different from the voluntary practices they’ve been going through.

“Everyone is here, pretty much,” he said. “Everyone is working hard and we’re going to continue to do that even when we’re off in the summer, the four weeks that we have off. Everyone is still going to work hard, so it doesn’t really change anything from now to next week.”

One thing to keep an eye on next week is the whether cornerback Brandon Flowers and linebacker Justin Houston show up. Both missed their ninth consecutive voluntary practice on Thursday and it remains unclear if either will report for the mandatory camp.

Injury report

Receiver Junior Hemingway missed his third day of practice because of illness, and cornerbacks Chris Owens (hamstring) and David Van Dyke (hamstring) did not practice.

Linebacker Ben Johnson (hamstring) returned to practice, while receiver Weston Dressler missed most of practice because of a hamstring injury.

Running back Jamaal Charles was excused from practice for a personal matter.

To reach Terez A. Paylor, call 816-234-4489 or send email to Follow him on Twitter at @TerezPaylor.

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