On a gloomy, wet and cold day in Kansas City, the Chiefs wrapped up preparations for the Broncos inside the team’s training facility. Though wet conditions are anticipated in Denver, and Todd Haley traditionally uses Friday practices to mock game conditions, the coach opted for an environment more suitable for daily progress instead.
“It’s critical for us to make progress every day,” Haley said. “We are going on the road, in the division and we have to be ready for everything. I’m sure Denver’s looking for a fresh start of sorts. Their record is not a direct indicator of how good a team they are. We have to be ready to go, in a great environment and there’s a chance of weather.”
With Oakland sitting idle this weekend just a half game behind Kansas City, a first place standing in the AFC West is on the line this weekend in Denver. The Chiefs hold a final walk-thru on Saturday morning before departing for Denver in the afternoon.
Four Questionable For KC
Of the four, McCluster and McGraw were noticeably limited on Friday afternoon during drills that were open to the media. However, Lewis and Waters both took regular duty with the first-team units on their respective sides of the football.
McCluster has missed the past two games due to his ankle injury and appeared to take his biggest step forward during Thursday’s practice session. Lewis is riding a one-game inactive streak while neither McGraw nor Waters have missed any recent game action.
Injury Report – Denver
Broncos RB Knowshon Moreno has been nagged by hamstring injuries in both legs throughout 2010, but appears to be plenty healthy heading into Sunday’s game. Moreno wasn’t listed on the Broncos’ injury report this week and all indications coming out of Denver suggest he’s ready to carry the football 20 times on Sunday if need-be.
According to the Denver Post, head coach Josh McDaniels said that Moreno is “as healthy as he’s been” all year and is expected to carry the brunt of the Broncos rushing load this weekend.
While Moreno’s be slowed, Denver’s traditionally consistent running game has been the weakest point of the Broncos offense. The Broncos dead last in the NFL with just 67.3 rushing yards per game and Moreno has eclipsed the 15-carry mark only once in 2010. Denver is also 0-4 in games this season that Moreno doesn’t log more than 15 carries. Last season, the Broncos were 2-5 when Moreno couldn’t break that same barrier.
Maybe the Broncos’ days of plugging in seemingly any rusher to see 100-yard games and/or 1,000-yard seasons is over?
Here’s the full injury report out of Denver.
OUT: LB Robert Ayers (foot), CB Andre Goodman (hip)
QUESTIONABLE: S Darcel McBath (ankle), DL Kevin Vickerson (groin), LB Wesley Woodyard (hamstring)
The Dex Factor?
Kansas City’s drafting of Dexter McCluster was part of an overall draft strategy to make the Chiefs a faster, more dangerous football team for 2010 and beyond. Simply speaking, the Chiefs lacked overall team speed a year ago and didn’t have enough play-makers in space to stretch the field offensively. Defensively, too many teams were able to stretch the Chiefs.
With McCluster inactive the past two, and once again questionable for this Sunday, it’s easy to say that opposing defenses haven’t had to play the Chiefs as honestly as they might have had McCluster been in the lineup. McCluster is the type of player who can force a defense horizontal when lining up out of the slot.
Since McCluster has been out of action, the Chiefs appear to be seeing a steady influx of extra linebackers stacked inside the box in run support. It’s something that head coach Todd Haley has taken notice of, but it isn’t something that Haley necessarily attributes to the absence of McCluster.
“Dexter brings another set of issues because teams have to decide whether he is a running back or receiver, or what he is,” Haley said. “That’s one of the good versatility things about Dexter, but I wouldn’t tie that with us seeing linebackers. I think it all depends on the personnel groups that we’ve had in there, when he’s been in there and when he hasn’t been in there.”
Haley pointed to the Chiefs recently extended use of heavy sets (three tight ends, one wide receiver) as part of the reason that opposing defenses are approaching Kansas City with extra linebackers.
“We’ve had three tight ends in the game and one wide receiver; teams have been bringing extra linebackers into the game,” Haley explained. “You can’t go by only one player. You just have to go by who you’re playing and what they do.”
The Chiefs have also tried some trickery out of the set, splitting the tight ends out wide and trying to exploit a mismatch third-down mismatches for
“There’s definitely some copying going on and I’m guilty of some plagiarism for sure,” Haley said.
DJ Williams Sunday Status Uncertain
Broncos Pro Bowl LB DJ Williams faces likely suspension after his being handed a second DUI arrest since entering the NFL in 2004. Williams, who leads the Broncos in both tackles and sacks this season, was arrested at 2:50 AM Friday morning in Denver. His first arrest for DUI came in 2005.
Broncos Coach Josh McDaniels told Denver reporters that he is still gathering facts and is unsure if Williams will play on Sunday against the Chiefs. Williams did not practice with the Broncos on Friday afternoon.
While missing Williams would certainly create an edge for the Chiefs offense on Sunday, it also forces coaches and players to spend extra time studying the game film.
“The one thing that it does do is that it causes a little bit of guessing,” Chiefs offensive coordinator Charlie Weis said of Williams’ status. “They’ve gone back and forth between the 3-4 defense and the 4-3 defense; within the last month even. Then they’ll interchange inside of a game going back-and-forth. That causes your players to do some extra mental preparation because you have to be ready within a game to face multiple fronts based on the personnel that’s out there.”
The Broncos represent the second team in the past three weeks that uses multiple fronts. Buffalo represented the other.
“We’ve been through it a little bit,” Haley said. Teams will change for one reason or another and they obviously had some injuries early that forced them into doing some things that maybe wasn’t their intended plan. But in this league you have to be able to adjust. It’s been part of my thought process the entire year, doing a lot of different things to force our guys to not be in a routine, to be able to adjust and adapt and be ready for anything.”