Arrowhead Report: Tebow x2

Posted Dec 28, 2011

Chiefs hope second meeting with Tim Tebow yields different results, Kyle Orton isn't biting on headlines, Hali won't skip this year's Pro Bowl and more...

The Chiefs won’t be the first team to face Tim Tebow twice in the same season, but they’ll be the first to see Tebow twice since Denver re-tooled its offense into a run-heavy, college-like attack.

Tebow replaced current Chiefs starting quarterback Kyle Orton as the Broncos starter midway through an October 9th loss to San Diego, coming off the bench to throw for one touchdown and rush for another. The Chargers faced Tebow again on November 27th, but Tebow was operating out of a much different offensive package than San Diego saw in its first meeting with Denver.

Kansas City defenders are hoping that a second look at Tebow provides an advantage in preparing for Denver’s unorthodox play-calls. Tebow accounted for both of Denver’s touchdowns as the Broncos posted 244 rushing yards against Kansas City in a 17-13 victory last month.

“It causes problems because it’s different,” cornerback Javier Arenas said of Denver’s offense. “But this is professional football, so we’ll have to adjust. We’ll probably have some new responsibilities in terms of guys having the pitch-man or quarterback. We just have to execute.”

It took a full half of football for the Chiefs defense to adjust in their first meeting with Denver. The Broncos took an early lead and were able hold that advantage behind 55 rushing plays.

Tebow completed just two passes in the victory, but Denver was able to dictate the tempo of the game.

The Broncos also churned out the road victory behind third-string running back Lance Ball’s career-high 30 carries. Primary running backs Willis McGahee and Knowshon Moreno both left the game with injuries, but the Broncos were still able to run their way to victory anyway.

The Chiefs made several in-game adjustments that contest, one which included the promotion of rookie outside linebacker Justin Houston to a full-time role. Andy Studebaker had been playing base defensive snaps while Houston focused on sub-package rush situations.

Houston’s insertion on the edge midway through the second quarter immediately helped defend Tebow’s ability to turn the corner. After Houston made several impressive plays against the option, Denver re-focused its rushing attack on zone and power plays between the tackles.

Houston has been a fixture for the Chiefs at outside linebacker opposite Tamba Hali ever since.

“If you have guys who are capable of taking the pitch, taking the quarterback and then taking the guy and if you feel good enough about the guys you have doing that then you can change it up,” head coach Romeo Crennel said when asked if he’d switch Kansas City’s defensive assignments against the option this week.

“But if you assign somebody to the pitch who can’t catch the pitch man that’s not very good football either. So we might change up some coverage but our assignments on the dive, quarterback, and pitch probably won’t change a whole lot.”

Orton Keeps Quiet

Kyle Orton is a seasoned professional. He’s played in 70 NFL games, started 68 of them and thrown for more than 14,000 career yards.

With Orton’s experience in the spotlight, it’s not surprising that he hasn’t bit on an opportunity to make headlines leading up to Sunday’s game against his former team.

“You only get 16 weeks to prove yourself to your teammates and that’s how I’m going to look at it,” Orton said. “This is just another week for me to come out and prove my preparation and my play to my teammates.”

Orton started 33 games for Denver, including the first five games of the season, before Tim Tebow replaced him as the Broncos starting quarterback. Orton later asked for and received his release when it became clear that Denver was committed to Tebow and implemented a new offensive scheme.

A win on Sunday could bring everything full circle and knock Orton’s former team out of the playoffs.

“Every player that I know wants to play good against their old team,” Chiefs head coach Romeo Crennel said. “So he would like to play good and I’m sure he would like to win the game. And that’s what I told him this morning, I said your job is to help your team win.

“It’s not Kyle versus the Broncos; it’s the Chiefs versus the Broncos so I think guys have to be reminded of that sometimes.”

Hali Accepts Pro Bowl Invite

After declining last year’s Pro Bowl invitation as a first alternate, Chiefs sackmaster Tamba Hali plans to play in this year’s game.

Hali called it a privileged to be named to the AFC all-star roster and said he was honored by the recognition as one of the league’s top-flight players.

“I’m going to make it there and hope for the best,” Hali said. “We hoped to be going to the playoffs, but that’s not the case. But it’s good that your colleagues around the league are able to recognize you as a good player, as well as the coaches and the media.”

San Diego’s Shaun Phillips played in place of Hali last season after Hali cited personal reasons for not playing in the game. As the first Pro Bowl alternate at his position, Hali was originally asked to replace James Harrison when Pittsburgh advanced to Super Bowl XLV

The game will no doubt present an unfamiliar environment for the high-motor Hali. In an effort to add safety to the game, blitzing is prohibited in the Pro Bowl and defenses must run a 4-3 scheme at all times.

Battle Likely Out

Running back Jackie Battle wore a walking boot Wednesday after injuring his foot in Saturday’s loss to the Raiders. The injury kept Battle out of practice and is expected to keep him out of Sunday’s season finale as well.

“We are doing x-rays, MRI’s, second opinions to try to figure out what his situation is,” head coach Romeo Crennel said. “Right now, if I had to list him, I’d list him as doubtful. Until we can get a determination from the doctors, I’ll make a determination at that time about what we need to do if anything as it related to the roster.”

If Battle is unable to play, he’s a likely candidate for the injured reserve list. Thomas Jones, Dexter McCluster and Le’Ron McClain are capable of sharing the rushing load, but Battle’s absence would still create a shortage of rushers.

At 33 years old, Jones has yet to log more than 16 carries in a game this season and the Chiefs prefer limiting McCluster’s workload to 10-15 touches per game. McClain is the only fullback on the roster.

“I thought Jackie Battle has done a good job this year,” head coach Romeo Crennel said. “He plays on special teams and when he’s come into the game he’s been productive because he is a big back, can make good cuts and break tackles so I think he’s brought a lot to the table at his position.”

If Battle heads to injured reserve, the Chiefs may opt to promote a player from the practice squad. Rookie Shaun Draughn is on the only running back on Kansas City’s eight-man practice squad roster.

Chiefs Injury Report

Did Not Practice: RB Jackie Battle (Foot)

Limited Practice: S Jon McGraw (Ankle)

Broncos Injury Report

Did Not Practice: S Brian Dawkins (Neck)

Limited Practice: S David Burton (Achilles), CB Chris Harris (Neck)

Full Practice: S Quinton Carter (Hip), LB Von Miller (Thumb)

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