Chiefs Practice Report: 8/31

Posted Aug 31, 2010

Pull the curtains; preseason practices are over

The Kansas City Chiefs began their final day of preseason practice by trimming their roster down 75 players. WR Lance Long was released prior to practice in order to meet the NFL’s roster mandate before the 3:00 PM deadline.

On the field, it was a day of special teams and Green Bay.

The Chiefs went through a special teams walk-thru prior to practice and then repped both the punt and punt return units at various times across the session. The rest of practice was three days of work all rolled up into one, due to the short week that presented itself.

“It was an interesting week this week and we had to be on our toes,” head coach Todd Haley said. “We tried to get in as much work as we could get done, keeping in mind that the game is coming up fast here on Thursday night.”

Although the prep week for Green Bay was a short one, the Chiefs will benefit from having a full 10 days to prepare for San Diego between the end of the preseason and the debut of The New Arrowhead on Monday Night Football.

Practice Inactives

OLB Tamba Hali

G Darryl Harris

CB Maurice Leggett

T Ryan O’Callaghan

OLB Cameron Sheffield

It’s now been a full week since O’Callaghan has practiced. He was originally injured in practice last Tuesday morning, leaving the field with an undisclosed injury. Without O’Callaghan, the Chiefs have gone with Barry Richardson as the starting right tackle, but are extremely thin at the position. Evidence of depth concerns on the offensive line came to light vs. Philadelphia when Richardson flipped over to the left side after the second-team relieved the starters of their duties.

Without O’Callaghan in the lineup, the Chiefs currently have just three players backing up Richardson and Branden Albert. Those three players are Colin Brown, Ikechuku Ndukwe and Bobby Greenwood; each of the three is relatively new to the position.

Brown – Has bounced between guard and tackle during his one-year Chiefs tenure. He missed all of 2009 due to injury.

Ndukwe – Started the first three games for Kansas City at right tackle in 2009, but primary NFL position had been guard. He worked at guard throughout most of the off-season before recently swinging back and forth between guard and tackle once again.

Greenwood – Former defensive end moved to offensive line during training camp.

“Depth is always going to be an issue and that’s just the way it is at most places,” Haley said. “Those types of players are difficult to find, particularly at the tackle position, right or left. I don’t think they’re just producing them off a conveyor belt. To be a successful and continue to try to transition into being a good team, we need to do a lot of things right and one of those things is going to be staying healthy on a full-time basis because depth otherwise will start to become a problem.”

The Chiefs were in a similar situation with their tackle position last season before O’Callaghan was claimed off waivers from New England. Richardson received an opportunity at the starting role then, but did not claim the job. A year later, Haley is happy with the progress that Richardson has made.

“What I do feel good about is that a guy like Barry Richardson, who a couple weeks ago there was a lot more unknown, now two weeks later, there’s a lot more known, most of which being good,” Haley said. “I’m excited about the development of him and a bunch of other players that it appears, across the board, it appears is occurring. That’s good. That’s what has to happen. Our second and third-year players have to develop. I think he’s showing signs that he is to this point.”

Richardson was a player whose off-season progress seemed to immediately stand out during training camp practices, primarily involving his footwork. At the moment, it looks as if Richardson is the club’s top reserve at both tackle positions.

Tough Decisions Ahead

Only three days separate us from the NFL’s final cut-down day. While it’s exciting to see the 53-man roster take shape, the day is never a bright one inside NFL locker rooms. Many players that have battled for the Arrowhead’s placed on their helmets will come to find out that they aren’t part of Kansas City’s plans for 2010.

This year, cut-down day for the Chiefs looks like it will be more difficult than in previous seasons.

“It looks like we have a bunch more guys that like to run down the field and hit people,” Haley said. “When you have more competition at positions, specifically when you start talking about the linebacker position, the secondary position, tight end and running back position, those are good signs for your special teams because those are the guys that the majority of which are going to be contributing for you.”

As we’ve been discussion throughout most of training camp, those final few roster slots are likely to be decided by the ability to contribute on special teams. Who can cover the most effectively, or protect most efficiently can be the difference between being player number 53 versus player number 54.

“On the cover teams it appears that we have more guys with the can-to and want-to to run down there like a ball of fire and hit people in the mouth,” Haley said.

A few players were specifically mentioned.

“This Cory Greenwood guy was a little bit of an unknown and has made us take notice,” Haley said. “He continues to run down on the special teams and make plays. All of a sudden, if that’s something that he ends up being real good for us at, then you have to start talking about how to get him on the team. If he’s on the team, we know that we aren’t going to carry 14 specialists. We’ll have to put guys on the team who can do both.”

Haley also mentioned LBs Justin Cole and David Herron for their special teams abilities. As always, be on the lookout as to how each player performs on special teams Thursday night.

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