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Chiefs buckle up, knuckle down in tough practice

Chiefs coach Todd Haley (right) talks with quarterback Matt Cassel during the first half of a game last month against the Bills at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs are looking to bounce back Sunday at home against the Cardinals.

Chiefs coach Todd Haley (right) talks with quarterback Matt Cassel during the first half of a game last month against the Bills at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs are looking to bounce back Sunday at home against the Cardinals. Photo by The Associated Press.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — When he mapped out long-range plans for rebuilding the Kansas City Chiefs, Todd Haley never figured on spending November practices retracing steps covered in training camp.

But neither did he plan on getting blown out in Denver and preparing for Arizona this week on the heels of a two-game losing streak. So in their first post-rout practice since 2009, the Chiefs buckled up, knuckled down and “went back to basics” on Wednesday.

Players said a tough workout was exactly what they needed after Sunday’s 49-29 flop to the Broncos, a game in which they set a team record by falling behind 35-0 in the first half.

“Today was just a ‘put-your-head-down-andgo-hit’ day,” said fullback Tim Castille. “Hitting helps a little bit. You get to take your frustrations out on each other a little.”

Haley, limping noticeably from an injury or procedure he refused to disclose, agreed with players who said it was a good, energetic practice.

“We got a bunch of base work,” he said. “We were in pads, just trying to get back to fundamentals, fundamentals of doing things the right way — offense, defense, special teams. I thought we had a good day’s work. I thought we made progress.”

Progress seemed urgently needed after the Denver loss. In fact, after a 3-0 start to their second year under Haley, the Chiefs (5-4) have played poorly their last three in a row.

They got lucky and beat Buffalo in overtime, then had no luck in losing in overtime to Oakland. Against Denver, they looked like the 2008 team that finished 2-14 and got the coach and general manager fired. Instead of leading the AFC West, they’re tied with Oakland, although the Raiders hold the tiebreaker by virtue of beating them head-to-head.

“There was a lot of energy out there,” said linebacker Derrick Johnson. “I thought it was going to be one of those days when everybody was trying hard to get in a groove. But everybody was up. That’s a good sign for a Wednesday. Coach has us mentally tough.”

The Cardinals (3-6) are on a four-game losing streak, just as the Broncos were last week. Haley’s old boss and Arizona counterpart did the same thing as the Chiefs on Wednesday.

“Exactly the same thing,” said Whisenhunt, who hired Haley as his offensive coordinator and went to the Super Bowl in the 2008 season. “That’s been our bugaboo. Too many mistakes. Too many self-inflicted wounds. We’ve had that discussion as well here.”

The Chiefs are trying desperately to avoid the snowball affect that seems to have gripped the Cardinals.

“Things started to pile on us,” Whisenhunt said. “It’s tough when you have a couple of (tough losses) back-to-back. It really taxes you confidence-wise, mentally.”

Haley appears to have a heavy brace on his right leg. He cited team policy of not talking about injuries when refusing to say how he got hurt. Offensive coordinator Charlie Weis has been limping around since training camp with a knee problem he intends to correct through surgery when the season is over.

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