Bob Sutton has been around football long enough to realize that every year brings turnover Authentic Jeremy Kerley Jersey , even when a team is coming off back-to-back division championships for the first time in its history.
It didn’t stop him from marveling at how different the Kansas City Chiefs look this year.
The Chiefs’ defensive coordinator focused only on his side of the ball, and counted nearly two dozen new names among guys who could be fighting for a legitimate job.
That includes five of their six selections in the draft and Kendall Fuller, the cornerback they got in the trade of Alex Smith to Washington.
”We have a lot of new dudes,” Sutton said. ”They’re all different. They’re from young rookies to guys that came here as free agents. It really is a good group of guys. And it really is early in the process, but they seemed to have meshed really good.”
It’s not just new faces under helmets, either.
The Chiefs shook up coach Andy Reid’s staff after their debacle of a playoff loss to Tennessee and following the departure of offensive coordinator Matt Nagy to Chicago.
Eric Bieniemy was promoted to that job from running backs coach with Mike Kafka taking over the quarterback coaching, while on defense, the Chiefs replaced linebackers coach Gary Gibbs with Mark DeLeone and Mike Smith.
All those changes came on the heels of a couple of offseasons with very little turnover, both on the roster and among the coaching staff.
And that makes their three-day mandatory minicamp that began Tuesday one of the most important for Reid and Co. since he took over prior to the 2013 season.
”Whoever is in the building, you teach. That’s how I look at it,” Chiefs secondary coach Al Harris said. ”At the end of the day, their performance falls on me. I take that approach.”
Well, there’s already been plenty of coaching after several weeks of voluntary workouts, and there is plenty more getting packed into the next couple of days at the Chiefs’ practice facility.
The goal is to set up the team for a productive training camp beginning in late July in St. Joseph, Missouri Daryl Worley Jersey Elite , where all those jobs that are up for grabs will get settled.
On defense, the Chiefs are trying to decide how best to fill the outside linebacker job now that Tamba Hali has been released. Justin Houston has one spot locked down, even though he’s been injury prone, while Dee Ford is expected to handle the other side despite a rough start to his career.
Then there’s Breeland Speaks, their top draft pick out of Ole Miss. He also fits in the mix.
On the inside, the Chiefs are seeking a replacement for longtime middle linebacker Derrick Johnson, who was released and then signed with AFC West rival Oakland. Reggie Ragland showed promise after arriving in a trade last season and Anthony Hitchen was signed as a free agent to stand next to him.
Justin Hamilton was signed to fill the middle of the defensive line, while the defensive backfield is a complete work in progress. Star safety Eric Berry is coming back from a season-ending injury, while top cornerback Marcus Peters was traded away as the Chiefs sought to establish a better locker room atmosphere and veterans Darrelle Revis and Terrance Mitchell are gone on the other side.
Fuller joins free-agent signing David Amerson and holdover Steven Nelson in competing for those jobs.
”They are all very attentive, working hard at it,” Sutton said. ”This is hard on anybody, but it is really hard on defensive players in this time frame. You can’t do a lot of things you want to do, but the guys have really embraced it and gotten as much out of it as we possibly can.”
On offense, the biggest question is how well Patrick Mahomes II will fare now that he’s not only the starting quarterback but possibly the face of the franchise. Mahomes spent last season learning the ropes under Smith, but he’s the clear-cut starter for a team that has playoff aspirations.
So far Da'Ron Payne Jersey Redskins , he’s lived up to the expectations.
”He’s put in a ton of hours. He’s going behind the scenes, working with guys individually. I’m really proud of where he’s at right now,” Kafka said.
The question is will he be where the Chiefs need him when the season rolls around?
Will the rest of the new faces be ready, too?
”Everything that we do now, we’re not going to take into the first game. It’s something that you can pull out and learn from, all the different schemes, fundamentals,” Reid said. ”We’re getting better every day and that’s the idea. We have a lot of new faces and we welcome new faces, and they’re learning.”
Less than two years removed from spectacular rookie seasons that transformed the Dallas offense, quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott are even more in control of the future of the Cowboys.
The team must move on without Jason Witten and Dez Bryant.
Witten retired earlier this month to join ESPN's "Monday Night Football" following 15 seasons as the Cowboys tight end.
He left as the club leader in catches (1,152), receiving yards (12,448) and games played (239). Witten was selected to the Pro Bowl 11 times.
Bryant was a three-time Pro Bowler playing all eight of his NFL seasons for Dallas before being released in April.
"As we lost those guys, the first statement coming in was we're not trying to replace those guys," Prescott said Wednesday after the Cowboys completed the second of three days of offseason practices this week.
"Those guys are irreplaceable."
Prescott knows something about replacing a big-name Cowboy. He did so after four-time Pro Bowl quarterback Tony Romo was lost to injury before the 2016 season.
As a fourth-round selection in 2016 Authentic DaeSean Hamilton Jersey , Prescott led Dallas to a 13-3 record, an NFL East title and was the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Elliott, Dallas' first-round pick that year, led the NFL in rushing yards in 2016 with 1,631. Last season, he was suspended for six games because of domestic violence allegations. The Cowboys dropped to 9-7, finishing four games behind the eventual Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles in the division.
Witten most often led quietly, by example. Bryant was vocal, animated both on and off the field.
Prescott said his leadership style probably more resembles Witten's.
"Those guys did a great job of encouraging me to be the kind of leader that I am," Prescott said. "Kind of making me take charge. Now with those guys gone, it's really no different."
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Prescott made his presence felt in the locker room immediately.
"He's had really unique leadership qualities," Garrett said. "The best leaders develop relationships with people, and he did that right from the start. It wasn't like he was banging the drum saying, 'I'm a leader. I'm a leader.'"
Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan sees a different type of leadership style in Elliott.
"Zeke sure brings a lot when it comes to his approach and how he plays, his physicality Chris Rusin Colorado Rockies Jersey ," Linehan said.
Garrett said of Elliott's season in 2017: "Obviously what went on last year was distracting to anybody. There's no question he's locked in and ready to focus on what he needs to do to be prepared to play his best football."
As for who will most likely fill Bryant's energy role, Linehan said, "We don't have a whole ton of rah-rah guys yet. They're working on getting to know their jobs and earning their keep. I think that will get developed."
Tavon Austin and Allen Hurns are among the newcomers who could fill the void of two players who combined last season for 132 catches and 1,398 receiving yards. Austin was acquired in a draft-day trade while Hurns signed as a free agent in March.
Two-time All-Pro right guard Zack Martin hasn't participated in this week's team drills so far, though he's working out at the team facility on his own, while his representatives try to work out a new contract.
Martin is in the fifth year of his rookie deal at a salary of $9.4 million. The Cowboys drafted him out of Notre Dame with the 16th overall pick in 2014. He has started all 67 games in the regular season and playoffs for the Cowboys.
"He's one of the best players we have," Garrett said. "He represents everything we want. We want him to be here for a long, long time. But there's a business side to this, and we all understand that."
"We miss having '70' out there, but 100 percent understand the situation," Prescott said. "Know why he's doing it. Want the best for him. I hope he gets everything he deserves."