Arrowhead Report: Run First

Posted Oct 20, 2011

Defending Oakland's rushing attack is Chiefs top priority

Carson Palmer’s status as the Raiders starting quarterback might be the biggest national storyline surrounding Sunday’s rivalry meeting between Kansas City and Oakland, but its run second-fiddle at One Arrowhead Drive this week.

Oakland’s quarterback situation is definitely on the Chiefs radar, but finding a way to stop the Raiders’ punishing rushing attack is Kansas City’s top defensive priority.

Darren McFadden currently leads the NFL in rushing and is averaging 6.4 yards per carry at home. In addition, Oakland’s four victories have been defined by the run with the Raiders averaging over 30 rushes per contest for more than 167.0 yards.

“It doesn’t matter,” DE Wallace Gilberry said of the Raiders quarterback situation. “When you’re running like that, it makes the job easy with a guy like McFadden in the backfield. It’s going to be a challenge, but we’re definitely up for it.”

The Chiefs allowed Oakland to run the ball at will in last year’s Week 17 loss and McFadden didn’t even play in that game because of a lingering toe injury. Michael Bush got the start in McFadden’s place and powered Oakland with 137 rushing yards on 27 carries.

Bush is currently the Raiders second-leading rusher with 138 yards on 43 attempts.

“I think first and foremost we’ve got to stop one of the best running attacks in the league and one of the best backs in the league,” Chiefs head coach Todd Haley said. “If we don’t do that, it will be a long day for us and it won’t matter really who is playing quarterback.

“We’ve got to stay focused on the strengths of their team, specific strengths of their team, knowing that they have a number of receivers that have hurt us and can hurt you, especially vertically and after the catch. But, first and foremost, each and every week for us, and it just becomes even a greater importance and emphasis is we must slow down their run game, some way, somehow.”

Haley hammered home his point again Thursday afternoon.

“We’ve just got to prepare and have an idea of what to expect regardless of who plays (quarterback), and also understand that this is one of the best running teams in the league, the best that we’ve seen to date,” Haley said. “That’s first and foremost. What we have to do defensively is slow the run game down.”

It’s clear what the defensive point of emphasis is this week.

On the defensive line, Kansas City is plenty familiar with McFadden. Glenn Dorsey, Tyson Jackson and Wallace Gilberry first squared off against McFadden as Southeastern Conference foes.

“He’s been doing it since he’s been in college,” Gilberry said. “I played against him in the SEC for a couple of years and he’s the same back that runs hard and runs with a passion. It’s up to us up front to try and get to him and make it difficult on him.”

Baldwin Making Debut?

Todd Haley opened the week with a sound bite that raised a few eyebrows. He warned not to assume that first-round draft pick Jonathan Baldwin would make his NFL debut this Sunday in Oakland.

It’s not physical anymore with Baldwin, who missed nearly six weeks because of a preseason thumb injury. Baldwin was declared healthy the week leading up to the Chiefs visit to Indianapolis. Mentally, Haley says that the rookie is fine too.

What may keep Baldwin from playing this Sunday is the current makeup of the Chiefs roster and his ability to play special teams effectively.

“How many plays are players contributing on special teams? How many plays will he play? I have to think about Steve Breaston and Dwayne Bowe a little bit because they’ve been playing really well these last couple weeks specifically,” Haley explained.

“I really don’t want to disrupt them a whole but, but at the same time, if we’ve got a guy that can help us – which I believe he’ll be able to help us – we’ve got to make sure we do what’s best for the team and gives us the best chance to win.”

Offensively, Bowe and Breaston have served as the Chiefs first and second receiving options with veteran Keary Colbert working effectively out of the slot.

Baldwin would likely have to replace either Jeremy Horne or Terrance Copper on the gameday roster, but both are core special teams performers. Jerheme Urban has been inactive of late.

“It’s not like you just say, for instance, Jeremy Horne’s playing 23 snaps a game on special teams and being productive and you just pull somebody like that off the roster or off the gameday [roster], you’ve got to have somebody that can take those 23 plays effectively,” Haley said.

 “I understand,” Baldwin said of his role following Thursday’s practice. “What can I do other than continue to work hard? Whenever they need me to go, that’s when I’ll be ready.”

Interestingly, Baldwin also said he’d never been asked to cover on special teams before. Not even when he was in high school.

“I just want to be out there helping out my teammates any way that I can,” Baldwin said. “If they need me to go out there and do things like that, then that’s what I’ll do.”

Baldwin has not missed any practice time since Friday, September 30th. It looks like his active status will be in question leading up to Sunday’s inactives deadline 90 minutes prior to kickoff.

Injury Report

The Chiefs injury report saw no changes Thursday afternoon. RB Jackie Battle and FB Le’Ron McClain continued to practice fully after suffering minor neck injuries against Indianapolis.

Chiefs Injury Report

RB Jackie Battle – Full Participant (Neck)

FB Le’ron McClain – Full Participant (Neck)

Raiders Injury Report

Oakland added K Sebastian Janikowski to the injury report Thursday afternoon with a left hamstring injury. Janikowski’s participation was limited.

DID NOT PRACTICE: QB Jason Campbell (Collarbone, Foot), RB Rock Cartwright (Calf), CB Chimdi Chekwa (Hamstring), CB Chris Johnson (Groin, Hamstring), LB Rolando McClain (Ankle), RB Marcel Reece (Ankle)

LIMITED PARTICIPANTS: K Sebastian Janikowski (Left Hamstring), TE Richard Gordon (Hand), S Michael Huff (Ankle), C Samson Satele (Ankle)

FULL PARTICIPANTS: TE Brandon Myers (Ribs)

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