Archive for Monday, May 6, 2002

Green feels like new man

QB has healthy knees, new wide receiver

May 6, 2002

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— Trent Green is eager for a second chance in Kansas City.

A year ago at the Chiefs' minicamp, their gimpy-kneed new quarterback could only watch.

Now he has two strong knees, an exciting new wide receiver and a fresh boost of confidence. It's like those NFL-high 24 interceptions last season never even happened.

"It's night and day," he said.

This is the way minicamp is supposed to be.

"Yes, it's a new experience for me," Green said as the Chiefs completed their three-day camp on Sunday. "It's been a couple of years since I've been able to participate in minicamps."

Thirteen months ago when the Chiefs gave the Rams a first-round draft pick for Green, the stitches were still fresh from his latest knee surgery.

"There's no comparison between this year and this time last year. There's just no comparison," coach Dick Vermeil said. "He didn't work in passing drills into training camp. He's more like he was in 1999 prior to his first knee operation."

Green spent much of the minicamp completing passes to Johnnie Morton, who was signed as a free agent from Detroit and will be counted on as the No. 1 wide receiver.

"It's refreshing. I can't even explain," Green said.

With a tender knee and a weak corps of receivers, Green struggled while Vermeil installed his system in his first year as coach. Green did not seem to find a comfort zone until the final month of the Chiefs' 6-10 season.

But judging from the way he was moving around and throwing the ball during minicamp, things may be different in 2002.

"When you spend as many hours and as much time doing all the rehab and everything else it really gets old, especially when you look at it in a two-and-a-half-year time frame," he said. "It just feels so good to be able to be doing the stuff you're supposed to be doing."

With two healthy knees, he's also able to go through his regular conditioning work. He's even added about 10 pounds of lean muscle.

"I'm much stronger now than I was at any point in time last year. That's just because from a recovery standpoint in terms of the surgery, I'm able to do more in the weight room," he said.

The 24 interceptions last year were particularly out of character for Green, who always had counted accuracy among greatest strengths. It often appeared that he was not getting much zip on the ball because he didn't want to step up and plant on the sore knee.

Now that is no longer a problem.

"Physically, I was able to do everything that I could," he said. "This year I'm able to do it better. I was able to do everything, I just wasn't able to do it at the level I expect myself to play."

His teammates noticed a difference during the minicamp.

"He's a lot stronger," said running back Priest Holmes. "He's gained the confidence to be able to come in his second year and do the things that are necessary for him to do at his position."

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