Arrowhead Report: Arenas making defensive impact

Posted Dec 2, 2011

Romeo Crennel believes Javier Arenas is playing with increased confidence, Tyler Palko will start, Chicago's 1,000-yard receiving drought and more...

Nickel cornerback Javier Arenas may have turned in his best defensive game as a pro two weeks ago when he was asked to defend New England’s Wes Welker from start to finish on Monday Night Football.

Arenas played his most defensive snaps of the season against the Patriots and helped hold Welker without a catch until the six-minute mark of the fourth quarter. Welker would finish with just two receptions for 22 yards.

For Chiefs defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel, Arenas’ performance was one he’d been waiting to see out of the 2010 second-round draft pick.

“A lot of times in this business, if you’ve got a little confidence and have a little success, you can build on that and it grows,” Crennel said. “I think that is happening with him.”

Crennel believes the solid play against Welker has helped to increase Arenas’ confidence level. He had another solid game last Sunday against the Steelers, tallying two pass breakups and his first career fumble recovery.

While Arenas has been a reliable return man throughout his first two NFL seasons, he’s taken a longer path to find defensive consistency.

“I think that when he had to face Welker, he had to make a concentrated effort to up his game and I think that he did that,” said Crennel. “I think it carried over to last week and hopefully it will keep carrying over going forward.”

Palko Will Start

Following a week of practices where Tyler Palko and Kyle Orton essentially split first-team reps, it will be Palko who makes the start under center for the Chiefs on Sunday.

“We’ve had to prepare Orton to get ready to play and he may have to, but he may not,” head coach Todd Haley said. “We’re really focused on how we want to start this game and we know what we need to do.”

The start will be Palko’s third straight since Matt Cassel was placed on injured reserve with a hand injury. Orton last played on October 9th in Denver’s 29-24 loss to San Diego.

Gaither Wasn’t Physical Enough

Chiefs offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Bill Muir gave his thoughts on the team’s decision to release veteran offensive tackle Jared Gaither earlier this week.

The move was somewhat surprising due to the Chiefs lack of experience behind starters Branden Albert and Barry Richardson, but Muir indicated that Gaither was a shell of the player who started 28 games at left tackle for Baltimore.

“The situation was pretty clear-cut,” Muir said. “Even though technically he was 100-percent healthy, physically, I didn’t see that as the offensive line coach/coordinator. I didn’t see the physicalness or the explosiveness he had when he played at Baltimore.

“There were other circumstances involved in it as you manage your roster at this time of year, so it wasn’t all about ‘can he play?’ or ‘can’t he play?’ or ‘who’s better?’ It was a tactical decision that we made.”

Steve Maneri will serve as the Chiefs third tackle against Chicago on Sunday.

“What I like about Maneri is his athleticism,” Muir said. “He’s a very good athlete who has good feet. He’s a tenacious fellow. What he lacks is game experience, so at some point in time you have to make a decision, and I think at this point when you have the comparison between choices, youth and future is something – not that I’m implying that we’re not concerned about this season; we certainly are – but just at the position, I think the athleticism and the temperament that he shows is encouraging.”

There was external speculation this week that rookie David Mims might have been targeted by another team to sign off Kansas City’s practice squad. Mims was quickly promoted to the active roster after Gaither’s release, but Muir made it clear that Mims is still a work in progress.

“He’s in that developmental stage, not ready for primetime as Chris Berman would say,” Muir said. “I think I see a future for him in the National Football League as a tackle, but its ongoing work.”

Chicago’s 1,000-yard Receiving Drought

The Bears haven’t produced a 1,000-yard receiver since Todd Haley served as Chicago’s wide receivers coach from 2001-03. Marty Booker was the last Bears receiver to eclipse the 1,000-yard barrier, hauling in 97 catches for 1,189 yards in 2002. Booker also caught 100 balls for 1,071 yards the season before.

It’s currently an eight-season drought that looks near certain to continue into 2012. Johnny Knox currently leads Chicago with 622 receiving yards through 11 games.

“It was a great three years there, our family enjoyed it, we have good friends that are still there on and off the team so it was a great, great experience,” Haley said of his time as an assistant for the Bears. “We had a little bit of success and are really looking forward to going back.”

Knox’s 51 catches for 960 yards last season is the closest the Bears have come to churning out a 1,000-yard receiver since Haley exited Chicago following the 2003 season.

In total, the Bears have produced just 11 1,000-yard receivers in the 91-year history of the franchise.

“You know as soon as you get past mid-November the field’s going to be good and roughed up and slowed down and I wouldn’t expect anything less,” Haley said.

Succop’s Streak

Lost in Kansas City’s offensive struggles over the past month is the fact that kicker Ryan Succop hasn’t missed a field goal attempt since September.

Succop was at the forefront of criticism after connecting on just two of his first five attempts during the Chiefs 0-3 start to the season. Since his early misses, Succop has made 14 consecutive field goal attempts.

Succop’s kickoffs have also been effective. Opponents’ average starting position following a kickoff is at the 20.7-yard line, which ranks as the fifth-lowest average in the NFL.

Injury Report

Starting left guard Ryan Lilja missed last week’s game with a head injury and remains questionable entering Sunday’s matchup with Chicago. If Lilja can’t play, rookie Rodney Hudson will make his second career start.

Chiefs Injury Report

G Ryan Lilja – QUESTIONABLE (Head)

LB Demorrio Williams – QUESTIONABLE (Groin)

C Casey Wiegmann – PROBABLE (Finger)

Bears Injury Report

OUT: QB Jay Cutler (Right Thumb)

QUESTIONABLE: DT Anthony Adams (Back), CB D.J. Moore (Ankle)

PROBABLE: CB Zackary Bowman (Groin), CB Charles Tillman (Knee)

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