Kansas City, Mo. One Pro Bowl guard was finally back Saturday as the Kansas City Chiefs went through their first practice since returning from training camp, but another was in a walking boot.
Brian Waters, the left guard who injured his foot the first day of camp in River Falls, Wis., finally got back on the practice field and may be ready to play Saturday night against St. Louis. But 11-time Pro Bowl right guard Will Shields, who sprained his left ankle on Thursday night against the New York Giants, is out for at least a week or two.
Shields should be ready by the regular-season opener Sept. 10 against Cincinnati, coach Herm Edwards said.
"We've got three weeks before the opener. We're not in a panic mode by any stretch of the imagination," Edwards said.
Shields declined to discuss his situation.
"I'm not allowed to talk about it," he said as he walked past a knot of reporters.
Aside from Shields, the injury situation seemed much improved. Also back on the practice field were running back Michael Bennett, defensive back Lenny Walls, and rookie defensive end Tamba Hali, the No. 1 draft pick who missed the first two preseason games because of sore ribs.
Hali, being counted on for immediate help on a defensive line which seems to be in need of help, could see his first action against the Rams.
"Some of these guys are getting healthy and coming back and really, in the nick of time," Edwards said. "This is the third preseason game. This is the one where your veterans are going to play most of the game, probably into the third quarter."
Edwards was not sure how much work Waters might get. He missed virtually the entire three-week camp.
"We'll see how he does this week. If he can get in condition, if he can get some reps in that will be good," Edwards said. "He won't play as much as the other starters."
Three starters - cornerback Ty Law, defensive end Jared Allen and safety Greg Wesley - all were excused from practice to attend to personal business and will be back on Monday, Edwards said.
Shields' absence is a continuation of a series of problems which have plagued the offensive line and probably contributed to poor play in an 0-2 start to the preseason.
The day before camp opened, Pro Bowl left tackle Willie Roaf announced he was retiring, although he has hinted he might be back next year. Then Waters went out just as Kyle Turley, attempting to come back after a two-year layoff because of a back injury, was inserted into Roaf's spot.
But having Waters on the field, Turley said, "was a good boost."
"It was just great to see him out there moving around and finally being under the helmet," Turley said. "He's been on the bike for a while doing the Terrell Owens thing. We're excited to have him back. I know he wants to get out there as well."
Everyone was glad to be back home after three weeks of sleeping in the dorm rooms at River Falls, a quiet little college town about 500 miles north of Kansas City that offers little in the way of recreational activities. The Chiefs are one of the few NFL teams that still trains far from home.
"Any time training camp is over, you know you're a step closer to the regular season. So that's always good," said cornerback Patrick Surtain.