Red Zone

Pioli sees fewer distractions, more competition at camp

The news that Dwayne Bowe had decided to sign his contract offer and rejoin the Chiefs put a fitting end to training camp.

This year’s camp was, for the Chiefs, one positive after another. Their ACL club got back to work, there’s no more apparent distrust between the head coach and general manager and the Chiefs played their best preseason game in several years in last week’s win over Arizona.

The only major stains during the Chiefs’ three weeks in St. Joseph were the absence of Bowe, now resolved, and the persistent foot injury to cornerback Brandon Flowers that has kept him from their lineup for more than two weeks, longer the Chiefs initially anticipated.

General manager Scott Pioli gave credit for the tranquil camp to the Chiefs having a better working environment as they prepared for their regular season opener on Sept. 9 against Atlanta at Arrowhead Stadium.

The preseason hits the halfway mark for the Chiefs with Saturday night’s game against the Rams.

Pioli described a camp that was free of unnecessary distractions.

“Chaos is a waste of energy,” he said. “There’s a difference between pressure and chaos. Pressure-filled situations don’t need to be (chaotic). There’s pressure here right now. There’s urgency. There’s competition. There are all of those high-level, important things. It’s just being done without (chaos).

“I want us to embrace pressure. Pressure is great. There are guys on this team fighting for their jobs. There is pressure in practice. There is pressure for them to perform because there are only 53 that are going to make it.

“But it doesn’t need to be chaos.”

Pioli declined to discuss former coach Todd Haley or cite specific incidents from Haley’s three camps with the Chiefs. But the biggest change at Chiefs camp in their previous three seasons with Pioli to this year is that they are now coached by Romeo Crennel.

When asked about Crennel’s role in this, Pioli became passionate.

“He has a critical role in this,” Pioli said. “Look at Romeo and how he is. People misunderstand Romeo’s calmness and his kindness and the fact he’s so genuine for a guy who’s a flat-line guy. He is not a flat-line guy. He is not non-competitive. He is not Joey Chuckles. He is all business.

“People don’t understand the hours Romeo Crennel works. Even when he was the defensive coordinator he was the last guy out of the office every single night. Every single night. So he’s responsible and teams tend to take on the personality of their leader.”

The Chiefs in recent seasons departed camp with a long list of unresolved issues. This year’s list isn’t so long.

One is to now teach Bowe the offense installed by new coordinator Brian Daboll. Bowe missed all of the offseason practices as well as the three weeks of camp, so he will be starting fresh.

Others are to get Flowers healthy — he will miss his second straight game Saturday — and identify top reserves at some crucial spots. One is quarterback, where Ricky Stanzi and Brady Quinn are competing behind Matt Cassel.

Stanzi will be the first quarterback off the bench against the Rams.

“It has a chance to be the most complete roster we’ve had since I’ve been here,” Pioli said. “There are fewer glaring holes. I think it has a chance to be, a chance, to be a deeper roster than what we’ve had. I’m being intentionally measured with my words because we don’t know what’s going to happen (Saturday).

“This has a chance to be our best roster, on paper. The players still have to go out and play or it doesn’t matter. That’s the cynic in me. I still see holes. I’ve been with bad, below-average, average, good and great teams. We are a long way from great.”