RIVER FALLS, WIS. The veterans are one year closer to being over the hill, the schedule is a meat grinder and a recycled coach was their only significant offseason pick up.
Nevertheless, Dick Vermeil opened two-a-day practices Friday insisting the Kansas City Chiefs could improve on the 2003 squad that went 13-3 and captured the AFC West.
"It has the potential to be a better football team," Vermeil said. "If we stay healthy and keep working and don't forget how we got where we are."
Unfortunately for Vermeil and the Chiefs, the first day of camp also marked the first injury. Wide receiver Eddie Kennison hurt his wrist and will likely be out for a while.
"The MRI didn't show anything, but they're going to do a CAT scan," Vermeil said.
The Chiefs do not expect Kennison to be out for more than a few days.
This camp is not expected to result in many position changes in the team that went unbeaten at home until losing to Indianapolis in its first playoff game.
Aside from injury avoidance, the main goal of Vermeil's fourth Chiefs camp will be to watch former and current defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham work his magic.
For the past two years, the Chiefs had just about the most potent offense and leaky defense in the league.
Now into the breach rides Gun, who was K.C.'s defensive coordinator for four years and head coach for two until coming back this year to replace the fired Greg Robinson.
Just his gruff presence seems soothing to veterans like defensive end Eric Hicks.
"I don't know if we have something to prove," said Hicks, who had a career-best 14 sacks under Cunningham in 2000.
"We just want to improve. We can't be ranked 32nd, 31st of whatever. We want to prove something to ourselves."