Arrowhead Report: Wednesday, November 17th

Posted Nov 17, 2010

Matt Cassel is free from injury, Tony Moeaki misses practice and Ken Whisenhunt tells stories of pick-up basketball vs. Todd Haley

A local comeback story came to an end on Wednesday morning when Chiefs LB Mark Simoneau (pictured) was placed on injured reserve. Simoneau, who missed the past two seasons with New Orleans because of injuries to his back and triceps, was a product of Smith Center, Kansas and played collegiately at Kansas State. He made suburban Kansas City his off-season home three years ago and signed with his hometown team as a free agent on October 27th.

“It’s a dream come true,” Simoneau said shortly after his signing.

Simoneau was injured in the first half of Sunday’s game while covering a kickoff on special teams. After absorbing a hit, Simoneau was escorted into the Chiefs locker room and did not suit out for the second half. Simoneau’s active status in Denver ended a span of 1,050 days (or 2 years, 10 months and 15 days) without a game appearance.

LB Charlie Anderson was signed to take Simoneau’s place on the 53-man roster. Anderson was originally released on Saturday afternoon to make room for the promotion of Ricky Price from the practice squad. Kansas City’s practice squad still has an opening.

Cassel Not On Injury List

Matt Cassel hobbled his way throughout the second half of Kansas City’s blowout loss in Denver and, despite the lopsided score, never came out of the game. The environment was one that sees many quarterbacks head to the bench before the final horn based off injury concerns. But for Cassel, coming out of the game wasn’t an option.

“In this profession you’re paid to play for 60 minutes and that’s what I was doing,” Cassel said. “It goes back to being a player and being competitive. I want to be out there every snap and until somebody tells me that I’m coming out I’ll be out there every single play.”

Cassel’s attitude was one of the deciding factors that convinced Haley to keep his quarterback in the game.

 “Matt was in that group of guys that said, ‘I’m part of this and I want to end part of it. I’m part of why we are in this situation and I want to end part of it,’” Haley said. “I will always have great respect for the players that feel that way and feel strongly about it.”

With the gimp in his step to close out Sunday’s game, eyes were turned towards Cassel return to the practice field on Wednesday afternoon. There wasn’t much evidence of a lingering injury other than a last-place finish during warm-up jogging. Cassel went on to practicing with the team in full and did not appear on Kansas City’s injury report released later in the day.

Moeaki Misses; Lewis Returns; McCluster Unchanged; Waters Ailing

The Chiefs haven’t confirmed whether or not rookie TE Tony Moeki suffered a concussion last weekend in Denver, but they did note that his absence from Wednesday’s practice was due to a head injury. Moeaki suffered a hit to the head from Broncos LB Joe Mays while covering an onside kick and went on to have an unsightly fall as he attempted to get up from the hit. There’s no word as to whether or not Mays will be fined by the NFL for the hit.

Positive news on the injury front came in the form of rookie safety Kendrick Lewis practicing in full on Wednesday. Lewis has missed the previous two games with a hamstring injury and the Chiefs were down to their third and fourth options last weekend with veteran Jon McGraw also ailing (knee/head). McGraw was limited in drills Wednesday afternoon.

To complete the rookie tri-fecta on Kansas City’s injury report, WR Dexter McCluster once again practiced in a limited capacity. McCluster’s workload didn’t appear to be much different than it was last week as he continues to rehab from an ankle injury suffered October 24th vs. Jacksonville.

Rounding out the Chiefs injury report is Brian Waters. Waters left Sunday’s game in the first half with a groin injury and did not return to action. During the portion of practice open to the media, Waters watched as rookie Jon Asamoah took reps with the first-team offense at left guard.

Also of note is right tackle Barry Richardson. Richardson was removed from Sunday’s game in favor of 2009 starter Ryan O’Callaghan. It appears that Richardson’s removal was not injury related. Richardson returned to the first-team at right tackle position during drills open to the media.

Remember 2007?

Remember the 2007 season when the final pieces of the Chiefs once dominant offensive line fell apart? Would you rather forget?

Will Shields’ retirement was the final piece removed before a Jenga-like collapse occurred along the Chiefs offensive front. The Chiefs were aged across their offensive line and had three players starting that season who are no longer in the league today. Behind those starters were no viable prospects and the offensive production that season resembled a plunging stock after a poor earnings announcement.

Kansas City suffered through a 4-12 season that year. It was a bad season all around for the Red and Gold, but a sticking point was the offensive line becoming one of the oldest in the league and Chiefs quarterbacks getting sacked a league-high 55.0 times.

This year, Arizona has the NFL’s oldest offensive line and, like Kansas City in 2007, have yielded a league-high 33.0 sacks. The sack tally is uncharacteristically high for a team that has previously done a nice job in protecting a quarterback not known for his mobility. Arizona allowed just 26.0 sacks during all of 2009.

So what’s the problem in Arizona? Is the high sack number due to the retirement of future Hall of Fame QB Kurt Warner, or is it because the offensive line is just getting too old? Is there another factor involved? Here’s how Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt answer the question in his conference call with the Kansas City media on Wednesday…

“Obviously Kurt was very good at getting the ball out quick and he protected us a little bit,” Whisenhunt said. “When you look at the sack total a lot of times that goes on the offensive line and a lot of times it isn’t necessarily just the offensive line. We’ve had more than our share of mistakes by our backs when they’ve gone out in protection and a guy comes free. We’ve had tight ends getting beat four or five times that have led to sacks.

“It’s a combination of all those things,” Whisenhunt continued.  “I don’t necessarily think that our line has gotten older, from that standpoint, I just think that we haven’t done a very good job overall offensively.”

As a whole, Arizona has struggled mightily on both sides of the football in 2010. The Cardinals rank 31st in total offense, 29th in rushing offense, 30th is passing offense, 30th in total defense, 28th is rushing defense, 27th in passing defense, 29th in turnover ratio, 23rd in points per game and 32nd in points allowed per game.

One-on-One: Haley and Whisenhunt

Whisenhunt spent a few minutes of his Wednesday afternoon conference call telling stories from when he and Haley had worked together in Arizona and New York. One of the stories involved Haley stranding Whisenhunt on a basketball court after the two got into a argument while playing in a pick-up basketball game.
“We used to play one-on-one basketball when we were in New York together and we had to drive over in a car because it was a little ways away,” Whisenhunt explained.” It wasn’t’ too far, but it was more comfortable riding over in the car. But there were a few times when we would get into arguments on the court and maybe throw the ball at each other and one of us would end up walking back rather than riding the car back with the other.”

Whisenhunt claims that his basketball skills reigned supreme over Haley during those one-on-one matchups in New York and the Arizona head coach went on to say that he and Haley have stayed close since Haley left Arizona for the head job in Kansas City.

“I was lucky to get the opportunity to get Todd in here,” Whisenhunt said. “When I got the job Todd was one of the guys that I wanted to bring in here as a coordinator because of the time we spent working together so long before. When we got that opportunity I was excited because I knew the type of coach that Todd was and he was a good fit for what we were trying to get done in Arizona.

“One of the great things about this business is the relationships that you build,” Whisenhunt continued. “I think that spending a year in the office with Todd; we became great friends. We did a lot of things together and our families are friends. When you come to Arizona and go through the experience that we did going to the Super Bowl, all that does is build that bond very strongly.”

The two have managed to talk football with one another even since they left the Jets. During Haley’s stay in Dallas, he and Whisenhunt (who was then in Pittsburgh) would catch-up on the phone every Friday afternoon.

“We’ve always been friends and I’m very thankful to have Todd as a friend and to have worked with him,” Whisenhunt said.

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