Arrowhead Report: Thursday, November 4th

Posted Nov 4, 2010

The Chiefs are once again preparing for two quarterbacks, DJ ditches the buddy tape and midseason reports begin to flow


Preparing for multiple quarterbacks is becoming a common occurrence for the Chiefs defense this season. In Week Two, the Chiefs had to prepare for the possibility of facing either Jake Delhomme or Seneca Wallace against Cleveland and, in Week Seven, Jacksonville posed three different candidates as starters before settling on Todd Bouman.

This week, the Chiefs are once again readying to face multiple quarterbacks.

Opening Day starter Jason Campbell has had the hot hand during Oakland’s two-game winning streak, posting a quarterback rating that eclipses 120.0. But Campbell is actually the backup now. He’s been filling in for the injured Bruce Gradkowski , who originally replaced Campbell as Oakland’s starting quarterback due to ineffectiveness on September 26th.

Gradkowski made three starts before suffering a right shoulder injury against San Diego on October 10th, thrusting Campbell back into the starting role. However, even during Oakland’s winning streak, head coach Tom Cable has remained firm that Gradkowski is his starter when healthy.

Follow all of that?

In short, Oakland’s annual quarterback carousel is in full swing. Gradkowski is nearing a clean bill of health and both quarterbacks have reportedly been splitting first-team reps at practices this week.

“They are both good at what they do, but (Gradkowski) is definitely more elusive, so to speak,” DE Wallace Gilberry said. “He can get on the perimeter on you and stretch the edge of the field. It’s going to be a challenge to face both of those guys; whoever they put in there.”

Add in the fact that Oakland represents the best rushing team that Kansas City has faced this season (168.5 avg. yards per game) and the Chiefs have their work cut out for them defensively.

“I think that Gradkowski, when he’s in there, there’s definitely a different tempo that you feel, just a little quicker athlete that maybe goes through his progressions a little differently,” head coach Todd Haley said. “Without getting into it too far, you feel a tempo change. When Jason’s in there, who we’ve played against a couple places I’ve been also, it’s a different tempo but he’s a big, strong, deep dropper, gets back, goes through his progressions.”

No More Buddy Tape for DJ

Before making a crack about LB Derrick Johnson’s catching ability, it should be noted that he was attempting to pick off passes with claws rather than hands last Sunday. What’s that you say?

“On Sunday, this finger and this finger were buddy taped,” Johnson explained. “I’m not going to buddy tape them anymore.”

Johnson, who has dropped multiple interceptions over the past few games, was referring to his left pointer finger and left thumb being connected together with athletic tape against Buffalo. “Buddy taping” is a common treatment for jammed fingers, protecting the injured finger with the support of its neighbor.

Buddy taping or not, Johnson admitted on Thursday that the drops have been frustrating for him. Johnson has three INT returns for TDs over the past eight games, but knows he’s left multiple pick-sixes on the table as well.

 “It’s really frustrating, especially since I’m a very athletic and talented linebacker that can catch,” Johnson said. “I play around before and after practice all the time catching balls, trick balls, anything that I can really catch. To actually have an opportunity in the game to make a big play, I’ve just got to hold onto it.”

So this week, Johnson has re-committed himself to extra drills both before and after practice. It’s all in an effort to finish off reads that have put him in the position to make a game-changing plays.

“The first thing that you realize is that if Derrick had Jerry Rice hands, he’d be a tight end,” Haley joked. “None of those (drops) have been ‘gimmes.’ They’ve all been difficult plays to make and you’re just not going to make them all.”

Johnson currently leads the team with 60 tackles and already has one INT return for a TD this year (vs. Jacksonville). He’s had an excellent season thus far in doing everything asked of him, and has stepped up to play at a high level after a very humbling 2009 season. Still, Johnson is looking to become the man who picked off 10 passes in 40 starts at the University of Texas. In fact, he still thinks he is.

“I’ve always felt like I have had good hands and I still do,” Johnson said. “It hasn’t wavered yet, but I have to start catching these balls.”

Midseason Reports Coming Out

Midseason reports are beginning to find their way into the national NFL coverage this week. With the “surprise” Chiefs leading the AFC West, plenty of players and coaches are receiving recognition for their half-season efforts.

Clark Judge of awarded Kansas City the following honors in his annual Midseason Report

Coach of the Year: Todd Haley

Assistant Coach of the Year: Romeo Crennel

Rookie of the Year: Eric Berry (runner-up)

Best Free Agent Pickup: Thomas Jones (runner-up)

Best Trend: 4th down attempts (Haley mentioned)

Judge’s colleague at CBS, Pete Prisco, also released his annual Midseason Report today. He gave members of the Chiefs mention in the following categories…

Coach of the Year: Todd Haley (runner-up)

Defensive Player of the Year: Tamba Hali (runner-up)

Assistant Coach of the Year: Romeo Crennel (runner-up)

Defensive Rookie of the Year: Eric Berry (runner-up)

Surprise Team: Kansas City (runner-up)

Best Game: Chiefs at Texans (runner-up)

Don Banks of added Scott Pioli as midseason Executive of the Year and Haley as his midseason Coach of the Year. Peter King of had Ryan Lilja and Brandon Flowers on his midseason All-Pro Team, as well as Pioli as his midseason Executive of the Year.

More midseason reports should hit the web within the next 24 hours, so keep your eyes out for more national mention of the Chiefs. It’s something that wasn’t there eight weeks ago..

“The team is not really concerned with the national media right now,” LB Derrick Johnson said. “Our job is to win the games, especially the division games, and get to the playoffs.”

Making the playoffs is the best way to fight against any shortage of national exposure; something that has been a point of contention for many Chiefs fans throughout the 2010 season.

Injury Report

Ryan Lilja (hand) continued to practice in full and worked with the first-team offense on Thursday. All indications are that he’ll be ready to return to his post at right guard this weekend.

Kendrick Lewis (hamstring) remains on the injury report as a limited participant, but went through drills with the defensive backs during the portions of practice that was open to the media.

Dexter McCluster (ankle) continues to attend practice in a limited capacity, although he has yet to run any pass routes or make any lateral movements during open portions of practice. Most of his prep appears to be mental.

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