The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

June 15, 2012

Chiefs' top draft pick gives 'automatic yes' concerning trip to Joplin

By Ryan Atkinson
Globe Sports Writer

— Dontari Poe was selected by the Kansas City Chiefs with the 11th overall pick in April’s NFL Draft.

He just concluded the Chiefs’ 13-practice mini camp on Thursday and has just over a month before July’s training camp arrives. And don’t forget the fact that he still has to negotiate a contract and formally sign with the team.

But the 21-year-old nose tackle was still in Joplin on Friday, helping frame a house on South Kentucky.

He was one of more than 20 Chiefs players who made the voluntary trip to take part in the Governor’s Joplin Challenge after head coach Romeo Crennel put out the word this week.

“It really wasn’t a question for me of whether I would come of not,” Poe said. “It was an automatic yes.”

Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli — who has long preached the importance of character — said that decision exemplifies the attitude he hopes all of his players have.

“We haven’t asked them or told them what they should do, they just show up,” he said. “The encouraging thing is that they are mature enough and caring enough and smart enough, they know what the right thing to do is. These are young guys, just out of college ... it shows us that we have a little less to do in teaching them.”

On the same note, Brady Quinn — who signed with the Chiefs in March — said it was impressive to see Pioli, along with team president Mark Donovan and CEO Clark Hunt donning work gloves and hard hats to lend a hand.

“You see Mark Pioli and Mark Donovan and the owner out here helping out. I haven’t witnessed that before with the two teams I was with before,”  he said. “It’s an incredible event where you can get the entire organization out helping these people.”

Pioli and the rest of the Chiefs front office hope that good will goes at least a little ways in helping bounce back from last year’s playoff-less 7-9 campaign.

The squad wrapped up what Pioli called an “encouraging” mini camp a day earlier.

“ We’re all very encouraged. I’m encouraged, Romeo is encouraged, the entire coaching staff,” he said. “The players are encouraged. We’ve seen signs of progress and we’re excited.”

Poe — a 6-foot-3, 346-pounder from the University of Memphis — said the camp was a good first step in his professional career.

“I learned a lot of things and kind of saw how things work as a professional organization and just learned what I could from the veterans,” he said. “It was a positive thing for me.”

Quinn referred to the team’s day in Joplin as its “first win” of the season. He said the bonding carried from the mini camp into the trip.

“I think mini camp went well. You know, just like building these houses, we were putting together a foundation.,” he said. “Obviously we still have a lot of work to do, but it gave us a great opportunity to mix in with some of the newer guys on the team and learn a new system.”