Arrowhead Report: Friday, November 26th

Posted Nov 26, 2010

Kansas City lists CB Brandon Flowers doubtful for Sunday; have multiple options in place should he not be able to play

Following three days of practice inactivity, CB Brandon Flowers’ status for Sunday has come into question. The Chiefs have officially listed Flowers as doubtful for this Sunday, meaning that there is at least a 75% chance that he won’t play.

With an injury designation clouding the status of a top defensive player, the focus immediately shifts to who Flowers’ replacement would be on Sunday? The Chiefs have a number of potential candidates to play left cornerback if Flowers can’t go. The route that the Chiefs will choose to take, however, is unclear.

“What we need to have is guys ready for the call of duty, so-to-speak and that’s part of the development of your younger group and I don’t know how game day will go for sure – who will be up and who won’t be up – but the good thing in having some of these things go on is some younger guys get a bunch of reps one way or another,” Coach Todd Haley said.

One of those young players is first-year DB Ricky Price. Price finished last Sunday’s game at cornerback after Flowers had left with a hamstring concern and would obviously be an option to replace Flowers again this weekend, though there is more to that story. Haley said today that veteran CB Travis Daniels was unavailable last Sunday when Flowers became injured. Daniels would obviously be another option at left cornerback as well.

Then there is another young player in rookie Javier Arenas. The Chiefs got plenty of looks at Arenas as an outside cornerback this preseason, but have kept him as a nickel corner since the regular season started. Haley touched on possibly moving Arenas to the outside position after practice on Friday.

“That goes with the theory of don’t weaken two spots,” Haley said of moving the primary nickel cornerback outside. “This is a good thing that you get into these situations from the standpoint of then it makes you work even a little harder at it in some of those scenarios and going through them. Sometimes when everyone is 100 percent it is easy to kind of keep that one over here and you just talk about it, which we do every week regardless. It is a little different when you actually have to practice it and get guys showing what they can do.”

The Chiefs also have Jackie Bates as an available replacement. Bates was inactive last weekend, which made him unavailable to fill in for Flowers against Arizona. Bates has played in one game this season, but only saw special teams snaps in that appearance.

Donald Washington also has previous history at cornerback despite playing safety in 2010.

“We have a couple different plans in effect each and every week, and some of those may involve a little smaller nickel package,” Haley said. “We’ve repped a bunch of different scenarios to try to be ready one way or another and one of those may, like I said, LB Cory Greenwood shows some skill as a nickel backer. LB Demorrio (Williams) has nickel backer ability, focusing in on that portion. We’ve practiced a bunch of different scenarios to make sure we have all bases covered.”

Defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel indicated after practice today that he feels comfortable with the ability of his reserve defensive backs to adapt their roles on Sunday. We’ll have to wait to see what happens.

Rise of Tucker

He’s quietly gone from camp body to starting wide receiver; at least for a week anyway.

Undrafted rookie WR Verran Tucker logged his first NFL start last Sunday against Arizona and is expected factor into the receiving mix for Kansas City this weekend in Seattle as well.  Tucker’s rise has literally been a step-by-step process, beginning as a long-shot to make the roster out of training camp, to currently seeing his offensive snaps grow on a weekly basis.

The Chiefs had already begun training camp by the time Tucker was added to the roster. Tucker had gone through an offseason program with Dallas, but was released prior to the start of the Cowboys training camp. A week or so later, Kansas City decided to lift the rookie off the street and give him a look.

“You bring a guy in and he’s a little rusty and dropping some balls, running around pretty good, run routes pretty well, but you’re just saying here’s a guy that’s a candidate for the practice squad,” Chiefs offensive coordinator Charlie Weis said.

Most players that join a team in a similar fashion to Tucker don’t even make it to the practice squad. They’re typically camp legs…camp bodies…call them what you may. Most are back on the free agent market in early September.

Tucker was an exception.

During his truncated training camp with the Chiefs, Tucker showed enough promise to earn a spot on the eight-man practice squad once camp broke. In essence, Tucker’s tryout was extended.

“All of a sudden, every day he goes out there he’s getting better and better and better and better, to the point where now you’re starting to, hey maybe this guy can get on the field,” Weis said.

On October 23rd, the Chiefs decided that they’d seen enough of Tucker on the practice field. He’d continued to show progress and it was time to get him a look on the active roster. The Chiefs flipped Tucker into the roster spot held by current practice squad WR Jeremy Horne in a move looked to be more about special teams than anything else at the time.

“He starts playing some special teams and they put him out there as a gunner and he’s out there making some plays, so now as you’re looking at your receiver corps, when you’re bringing a limited number of receivers to a game, he’s playing himself into a guy that not only got onto the team but now is a contributor on the field,” Weis said.

“Really, here’s a case where he showed improvement as a receiver, but his improvement on special teams was really what got him on the field first.”

Tucker made his NFL debut on special teams against the Jaguars, but also saw offensive snaps in his first game as a pro. Over the past month, Tucker’s looks in the receiving game have increased. His first career reception was an 11-yard TD catch in Oakland, coming on a day where he also recovered a fumbled punt and notched a special teams tackle as well.

Whether or not Tucker is able to take hold of the club’s number two wide receiver position remains to be seen. In the meantime, he’s showing more progress each and every week.

“Now all those nice routes he was running and the ball was on the ground because he was a little rusty (aren’t) on the ground anymore,” Weis said. “All of a sudden he’s catching those balls and running good routes. He’s far from a polished product, but from where he was when he got here in training camp until now is night and day.”

The Chiefs have to be pleased with the development that they’ve seen from a player who looked to be a roster long shot back in August.

Kansas City Injury Report

In addition to Flowers, the Chiefs listed five other players on their final injury report of the week.

DOUBTFUL CB Brandon Flowers (hamstring)

QUESTIONABLE – S Jon McGraw (head); WR Dexter McCluster (ankle); TE Tony Moeaki (head); G Ryan Lilja (foot); T Branden Albert (groin)

All questionable players outside of McGraw were full participants in practice on Friday afternoon. McGraw was listed as limited.

Seattle Injury Report

OUT - G Chester Pitts (ankle); TE Anthony McCoy (knee); DT Colin Cole (ankle)

QUESTIONABLE - WR Mike Williams (foot); FB Michael Robinson (hamstring)

PROBABLE - G Mike Gibson (ankle); WR Golden Tate (ankle); C Chris Spencer (finger); QB Matt Hasselbeck (left wrist); WR Brandon Stokley (calf); DE Chris Clemons (ankle); LB Lofa Tatupu (knee); CB Marcus Trufant (concussion)

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