Toomer joins Chiefs for practice

RIVER FALLS, Wis. -- Amani Toomer knew he still wanted to play, knew he still could play. Retirement was never an option.

So even as training camps opened around the league, the 13-year veteran kept working out, waiting to get a call.

It came this week, when the Kansas City Chiefs invited him for a workout, then signed him to a one-year deal.

"I definitely thought I was going to play, I kept working out like I was going to play," Toomer said Tuesday after his first practice with his new team. "It bothered me ego-wise, but I kept going, kept doing my thing and I'm here now."

The Chiefs didn't pursue Toomer as a free agent during the offseason, opting to head into training camp with an inexperienced group of receivers. But as those receivers continued to drop passes, they started looking for veteran help.

Kansas City brought in Toomer, David Terrell and D.J. Hackett for a workout on Monday, then completed a deal with Toomer before Tuesday's practice. The Chiefs also claimed linebacker Vince Redd off waivers from New England, creating space on the roster by releasing tight end Tony Curtis and guard Edwin Harrison.

"We'll do anything to improve the competition and obviously a guy of Amani's caliber with what he's done in the league [would do that]," Chiefs coach Todd Haley said. "We worked him out and it looked like he had a lot left in the tank, so we signed him."

Toomer spent his first 13 seasons with the New York Giants, catching 668 passes for 9,497 yards and 54 touchdowns. He had a decent season for the Giants in 2008, catching 48 passes for 580 yards and four TDs, but the team opted to let the 34-year-old become an unrestricted free agent.

Now, after playing for a team that was consistently in the playoff picture, Toomer joins one that's rebuilding after a 2-14 season.

"If you look at the situation here, with a new coach, a great quarterback, it's just a good situation for me to be in and I'm happy to be here," said Toomer, who wore No. 13 for his first practice. "It's like you can feel the excitement coming through in how the coaches are trying to change to environment."

Toomer could have an immediate impact.

Tall and wily, he should give new Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel someone besides Dwayne Bowe to throw the ball to. He also should provide a steadying and educational influence on Kansas City's inexperienced receivers, who have been plagued by dropped passes throughout offseason workouts and training camp.

Even without knowing much of the offense, Toomer's influence was apparent in his first day of practice.

"We have to eliminate drops, we have to do a better job mentally in some areas, but today was better," Haley said. "From what I could tell, it seemed like there was a little more focus. Any time you add a guy of Amani's ability and what he's done in the league, that'll do nothing but help you."