Arrowhead Report: Friday, October 29th

Posted Oct 29, 2010

WR Dexter McCluster and RG Ryan Lilja both questionable for Sunday

The Chiefs finished a week of Buffalo game-planning with two major offensive contributors nursing injuries. WR Dexter McCluster, who left last week’s game in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury, was in full dress for practice, but headed to work out on the stationary bikes following the conclusion of stretching. The ankle injury has limited kept him limited all week.

Veteran WR Chris Chambers (finger) is expected to play this weekend and could see his role in the offensive game plan expand, particularly if McCluster is unable to play. Chambers has been inactive each of the past two weeks, but was a healthy scratch last Sunday against Jacksonville.

“I know how to rebound and I know how to come back from it,” Chambers said. “I’m just looking forward to having those opportunities again. When my chance comes and the window opens, I just have to take advantage of it.”

Starting right guard Ryan Lilja (thumb) is also fighting through injury and has been limited throughout the week. Lilja took mental reps next to offensive line coach Bill Muir during Friday’s practice while rookie Jon Asamoah handled the first-team duties at right guard.

“Jon’s got a bunch of reps through the pre-season and regular season,” head coach Todd Haley said. “He gets consistent reps along with other guys who aren’t in there. Whoever is playing should be prepared. That’s our job.”

Most of Asamoah’s offensive snaps have come as an extra lineman in goal line and short-yardage situations.

The Chiefs have yet to rule out Lilja or McCluster for this Sunday’s game. Both are officially listed as “questionable,” alongside reserve safety Reshard Langford (ankle).

Tucker Contributes Immediately; May be In Line For More

Last weekend, less than 24 hours separated rookie WR Verran Tucker from seat on the practice squad and his NFL debut. Tucker, undrafted out of California, was promoted to Kansas City’s active roster last Saturday evening and then found himself in the lineup for Sunday’s game.

Haley said today that Tucker’s promotion was primarily the result of an ability to play on special teams, but the rookie receiver ended up playing some offensive snaps as well.

“That gameday 45 is critical to us having any kind of chance to compete on a weekly basis,” Haley said. “We need to have the best possible mix and a big factor in that is special teams. We need to win on special teams every week, in my opinion to win these games.”

Tucker tallied over 20 snaps last Sunday and actually finished with more offensive repetitions than special teams.

At 6-1, 204, Tucker is a bigger receiver who can make an impact on coverage units, but it’s his mismatch problems as a wide receiver that have had Kansas City’s defensive backs talking. Even prior to his promotion last weekend, a few DBs had raved about Tucker’s ability to make plays in practice. Today, Haley pitched in today with some complimentary words as well.

“He’s got some skill as a receiver,” Haley said. “I’ve been quietly excited about him from a week or so into training camp,” Haley said. “He’s got some unique skills that are not coachable.”

Tucker was targeted one time last week in the passing game, but did not record any statistics. With McCluster’s health is question this weekend, there’s a good chance that Tucker will get another chance to contribute this weekend.

Weis Remembers Fallen Videographer

The tragic death of Notre Dame videographer Declan Sullivan sent shockwaves across the country earlier this week. Sullivan was killed when the hydraulic lift he filmed practice atop collapsed during a period of high winds in South Bend, Indiana.

The 20-yaer old Sullivan entered the Irish football program when Chiefs offensive coordinator Charlie Weis was serving as Notre Dame’s head coach.

“I know that my family, we’ve been a little bit in the tank about this for a couple of days now,” Weis said. “Obviously the Weis family thoughts and prayers are both with Declan’s family but the whole Notre Dame family, in addition. It’s just awful.”

Crennel Eyes Experience in Simoneau Signing

When the Chiefs signed veteran LB Mark Simoneau earlier this week, the move was somewhat surprising. Not necessarily surprising because of Simoneau’s ability as a player, but rather the Chiefs current situation at linebacker.

From a numbers perspective, inside linebacker is one of the deepest positions on the team. The Chiefs were already three-deep at the position before Simoneau was added to the roster and no one in the position group has been fighting injury.

The numbers game at inside linebacker has also factored into rookie LB Justin Cole being the only player on the roster to have been a healthy scratch in each of the six games this season. Adding Simoneau to the mix brings the position’s tally to seven players.

Even so, defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel feels that Simoneau’s brings both physical traits and intangibles that are important to the Kansas City roster.

“We have a young team and Simoneau brings a lot of experience,” Crennel said. “His experience and knowledge can help these young guys. You always try to improve your team however you can. Veteran players who can still do can really improve your team and we’re always looking for guys that can help us.”

Simoneau is currently listed as fourth on Kansas City’s depth chart at “Mike” linebacker behind Jovan Belcher, Corey Mays and Justin Cole, but could also be a candidate to play weak-side insider linebacker as well. Currently, no players on the Chiefs roster double as both strong and weak-side linebackers.

Behind The Scenes: Thomas Jones

Chiefs RB Thomas Jones seems to leave a lasting impression anywhere he goes.

His new teammates constantly recognize the impact that Jones’ arrival has made on the organization and Jones’ former employer, the N.Y. Jets, took out a full-page ad in the Kansas City Star shortly after his signing to thank him for his contributions to that organization. Everywhere he goes, people say the same thing about him: “he’s a special teammate.”

Today, Haley gave us a behind-the-scenes story about Jones following the Chiefs painful 35-31 loss in Houston several weeks ago.

“I don’t like to talk about guys’ private stuff, but this to me is such a clear picture of Thomas: after that Houston game, we’re flying home and like I said you could tell that we were making progress as a team by how the players were acting on the plane, you could see that it was a painful, painful flight home but I made a couple passes back through there just to talk to all the guys just like I usually do and Thomas is watching a DVD, he’s got a DVD with headphones on and I just took a peak to see what movie he was watching and he was watching high school football. And I was like, ‘What are you watching?” He said, 'I’m watching my brother.' I’m like, 'Your brother? You just have Julius, right?'

“We had drafted Julius in Dallas and I’m doing the math quickly of knowing when Julius was a high school player and I’m going, ‘You’re watching Julius?’ So he’s got a bag full of DVDs of his brother playing high school football. He said, ‘This is what cheers me up.’

“That’s pretty unique and it tells you so much about the guy and on top of all the other things, he does a lot of work with the mining and things like that. Here’s a guy, of all the options to keep your mind active after a difficult loss, he said this is what gets me in a good mood when I’m down and it’s his brother from the ’90s playing high school football and he’s got DVD after DVD and he’s rewinding it watching runs. Amazing. Amazing.”

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