Chiefs' Poe is playing leaner and meaner than ever before
SEP 11, 2013 8:49p ET
Before long, a small crowd gathers to watch the big men do their thing.
Genesy goes first.
Polite applause. Burns like sin, but he feels like he's got the thing moving at a decent clip.
Poe goes next.
Metal scrapes. Jaws drop.
"Was I moving as fast as he was?" Genesy asks a friend.
And the friend just shakes his head.
"Compared to him? Naw, man, you weren't moving."
"I knew, that day, not only was he fast, he's extremely powerful," Genesy says now. "He's a freak of nature. A freak. And I know he's got what it takes to definitely continue to excel."
Genesy had worked for years with Poe at Transforming Bodies, off and on, but most intensely in the months leading up to the 2012 NFL Draft, where the Kansas City Chiefs took the former Memphis Tigers standout at No. 11 overall. You call to ask if Roland saw a day like the one in Jacksonville coming, an afternoon in which Poe picked up five solo tackles, 1.5 sacks and bent the Jaguars pocket the way Superman bends a crowbar.
And Genesy laughs again.
"I think he's definitely, right now, a lot more powerful and explosive than he was last season, no doubt," Roland says. "I'm expecting some great things out of him this season. I'm already seeing a difference.
"He's got some fast hands, man, extremely fast. I've never seen that out of a guy his size ... and I think he's taken a lot of what I taught him about nutrition, training and techniques. He calls me and tells me all the time he's taking a lot of that and applying it to what he's doing now.
"I know some people, when they go into the league, they were at their best and they slowly diminish. (With Poe), you're going to see increased persistence and drive and determination ... I think he's better-equipped to go ahead and explode and drive and take off. I think the best is yet to come."
A good nose tackle is easy to miss. A great one? A great one is almost impossible to look away from.
"His mental game is also very good," Chiefs linemate Mike DeVito told reporters last month. "He's able to read backfield sets, understand the defense, and that allows him to play at the high level that he's playing at. If he's sitting around thinking, he's not going to be able to play at that level. But he knows what's going on. He acts like a true vet, and you would never know that this is his second year of playing. I think we've seen a big jump (in) him from last year."
For six weeks, from St. Joe to EverBank Field, Poe has acted as a singular agent of disorder, a creator of an almost beautiful chaos, a five-car pileup in cleats.
"The one thing I tell him is to find a focal point, something that drives you, something that moves you. Something that makes you want to be better than anybody on the field," Genesy continues. "I told him, ‘If you grind when nobody's looking, you're going to shine when everybody's looking.'
"That's the quote I always used with him and I think he understands that. It means that hard work and determination, nobody's catching that, it's not being featured. But it's out there on the field, when you handle your business."
And business is good. According to FootballOutsiders.com, Poe played on 62 of the Chiefs' 72 defensive snaps, a rate of 86 percent. That was the 11th- highest percentage of snaps for any NFL defensive lineman during Week 1; Poe appeared in 74 percent last fall.
"Nothing ever stops," Poe says. "I have nothing perfect. Anything that can be made (to) look good, it can be bettered. Anything that doesn't look good, obviously, it can be better. Pretty much my whole game, I've got to work on."
Still, little by little, the rough edges are being whittled away. The Memphis native is playing leaner and meaner than he ever has before; after trying to hold down the anchor of the Chiefs' 3-4 front as a rookie 350-pounder a year ago, he's moving the pile at a more svelte 340-ish now. Poe even declared at training camp last month that he was eschewing beef, pork, fried foods, and that holy culinary staple shared by both Memphis and Kansas City -- barbecue.
"I think the thing right now is, he knows the philosophy of better nutrition," Genesy says.
"I think a lot of the guys, they feel that they can get away with eating whatever they want, as long as they have the strength, and this is something I talked to him about early on quite a bit. I said, ‘You have to eat healthy and you have to eat clean ... in order to get performance on the field.' I think he understands that, too."
Genesy, whose clientele has included Dallas Mavericks guard Monta Ellis and mixed martial artist Brian Hall, was first introduced to Poe while he was collegian at Memphis. After Roland had helped to train Dontari's aunt, Sabrina Clark, she recommended he have a crack at her footballing nephew.
It was love at first lift.
"Dontari's a guy that, No. 1, he loves weight training; he loves to work out," Genesy says. "And I love working with athletes that want to work out and really want it. So that made it really easy for him. His size and his speed is something I'm still amazed at. He's one of the few athletes I've worked with at his size to have that type of agility. It was great working with him. Makes me extremely proud of him."
The legend grows, one week at a time. So does the fan club.
You can follow Sean Keeler on Twitter @seankeeler or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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