Albert rejoins Chiefs as offseason workouts begin
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
KANSAS CITY (AP) — Any question about whether Branden Albert would fit right back in with the Kansas City Chiefs was put to rest when new quarterback Alex Smith greeted his left tackle with a smile.
Albert rejoined the Chiefs on Tuesday after missing several weeks of voluntary workouts and team meetings — and after a lengthy and sometimes acrimonious back-and-forth with the franchise — for the start of three weeks of organized team activities.
He was back at his familiar spot at left tackle. The Chiefs moved Eric Fisher, the first overall pick in the draft, to the right side of their new-look offensive line.
“I feel pretty good. Happy to be back,” Albert said. “I’m a little rusty, but I knocked a lot of the rust off. ... I’m just happy to be back. I’m here now, and I’m not worried what I thought before. I’m happy to be here with my teammates and I’m ready to work.”
That should come as a relief to Smith and the rest of the Chiefs.
“I’m glad he’s here, no question,” Smith said. “For a quarterback, those guys are your best friend. I told him that soon as I saw him.”
A former first-round pick, Albert has developed into a dependable protector of the QB’s blind side, and was hoping his production the past few years would land him a long-term deal.
When the two sides failed to come close to an agreement, the Chiefs used the franchise tag on Albert, agreeing to pay him about $9.3 million this season. But despite signing the tender rather than holding out, Albert had stayed away from the team during voluntary workouts.
He also took to Twitter to voice his displeasure with the way things were going, and the Chiefs began discussions with the Miami Dolphins to trade Albert during the draft.
When those talks fell through, the Chiefs made sure no bridges had been burned.
“Everybody makes mistakes. Through this whole process, I realized I made mistakes,” Albert said. “I shouldn’t have said certain things. That’s part of the game — learn from it and move on.
“I’m just happy to be here. I’m here right now, and this is God’s honest truth, I wanted to a Chief. I had to go through the process and now I’m here.”
Albert admitted he was a bit behind in learning Andy Reid’s offense, but he appeared to move around well and took part in the full practice despite temperatures in the 90s.
“I thought Branden came in in good shape,” Reid said. “We moved at a pretty fast clip today and he was able to hang in there. I felt like he held his own.”
Reid said the offensive line he put on the field for the roughly two-hour workout is what he plans to take into training camp, with Albert at left tackle and Jeff Allen at guard. Rodney Hudson worked out at center, Jon Asamoah at right guard and Fisher at the other tackle.
The common belief is the Chiefs drafted Fisher with the intention of eventually using him to replace Albert on the blind side. But for now, he’s playing on the right side for the first time since his sophomore season at Central Michigan.
“It’s starting to set in more and more every day, and it’s only going to start setting in and becoming more natural,” Fisher said. “I’ve been in a left-sided stagger for the last few years, so I think my muscles need to make the adjustment.”
Both players said there wasn’t any awkwardness to being on the field together.
“I’m going to try to learn everything I can from him,” Fisher said, “and do everything I can to be a better player. ... Football is football, and that’s what I’m here to do.”
The Chiefs had a special, voluntary minicamp several weeks ago that was afforded to teams that have a new head coach. But Tuesday’s workout was the first time rookies and veterans had been on the field together, and there were clear changes from the previous regime.
Things moved along at a quicker clip under Reid than they did former coach Romeo Crennel, and more than once, Reid encouraged players to speed things up. There was also a certain element of professionalism that had been absent: Players tucked in their jerseys, for example.
“Little things are very important, and the little things add up if you don’t take care of them and become big things,” Reid said. “So we’re going to make sure we focus on those things, and we’re not going to let those things slide. The players don’t want that. They don’t want things to slide. They’re trying to do things the right way.
Notes: The Chiefs released DB De’Quan Menzie and OL Lucas Patterson. ... DL Marcus Dixon (lower back spasms), RB Shaun Draughn (sports hernia) and TE Tony Moeaki (left knee surgery) did not participate in the practice.
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