KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- For most NFL teams, it's hard these days to differentiate between an OTA session and a mini-camp practice.
But that's especially true for the Chiefs in Andy Reid's first offseason as head coach in Kansas City. With almost perfect attendance during the already completed 10 organized team activities, the so-called mandatory minicamp that started Tuesday turns into just three more days of practice for Reid, his staff and players.
"The thing the guys are doing is they're challenging each other, and that's where you get better," Reid said. "I appreciate that attitude and the work ethic. They just keep on doing it, keep learning, staying in the playbook. It's been very productive."
The Chiefs roster has been between 85 and the 90-player limit for the last month, and no player missed an OTA that wasn't known to Reid and his staff before the absence. All those occasions combined totaled less than a half-dozen players that were not on the field. Even the injured players have been on site and on the field as they go through rehab.
Asked the most encouraging factor in his new assignment with the Chiefs, Reid did not hesitate with an answer.
"It's the work ethic right now, guys trying to get better," he said. "There are a lot of little things that determine whether you're going to be an average team or a good team and are you going to be fundamentally sound against all the different looks, whether you're on the defensive or offensive side, so you've got to spend time at it. It's not good enough just to learn the play. Let's learn it inside and out. Let's learn all the leverage positions you need to be in. The guys are doing that, they're working at it.
"Those little things -- that's what counts. But normally those are the things that the players will back away from. 'OK, I've got the route, but what are the intricacies of that route? I've got the coverage, but exactly how does that tie in with my linebacker or safety or whatever it might be?'
"They're concentrating on that and they're working on that very well. From a coaching standpoint, that's all you can ask for."
Luckily for the Chiefs, the list of injured players has been quite small, with only two players missing all of the OTAs -- tight end Tony Moeaki and running back Shaun Draughn.
Both are rehabbing from off-season surgery; with Moeaki it was his left knee, and for Draughn it was a sports hernia.
Wide receiver Donnie Avery has missed time with a high ankle sprain. Running back Jamaal Charles had an MRI on his right foot after a teammate stepped on him during a practice last week. The pictures came back negative and Charles was on the field for Tuesday's minicamp practice, showing the foot will not be a problem. Other players missed a practice or two, but they were on the field getting mental reps.
"This is a new defense and a new offense, so you don't want to miss anything," said veteran linebacker Derrick Johnson. "You get behind and it's hard to catch up. They aren't going to wait for you."
Reid has established in the minds of his players that there may be a new general manager, head coach, coaching staff, starting quarterback and heaven knows how many new players on the roster when all is said and done in September -- but the Chiefs are not rebuilding.
"You never look at it as a rebuilding year; that's college talk," said Johnson, the longest-tenured player with the franchise (he arrived in 2005). "You always reload. Even though we didn't win a lot of games last year, this team has some good core players that we can reload with, plus some new guys like Alex Smith that can help us win.
"We have high expectations. Andy Reid has already made it plain to us that if you are playing for anything else but a championship, you are not doing justice to the game."