Just days away from the 109th matchup against the Oakland Raiders, the Kansas City Chiefs returned to the practice fields Thursday, but not before the team's coordinators, OC Doug Pederson, DC Bob Sutton and special teams coordinator Dave Toub addressed reporters about what will soon become the latest chapter in the team's storied rivalry.
Coach Toub stepped to the mic first on Thursday, describing the Raiders special teams unit in two words.
"Very good," Toub said. "We think they're one of the best, right now; they're playing really fast. (Raiders ST) Bobby April is a great coach; he has them playing fast. They have good returners, obviously a good kicker and a good punter; so, we have our hands full this week, for sure."
The Chiefs special teams unit has scored twice in 2013, marking the first time Kansas City has had multiple special teams touchdowns in one season, since the team recorded three special teams touchdowns in 2009.
In addition to the punt return score by Chiefs WR Dexter McCluster and the fumble recovery score by Chiefs CB Marcus Cooper, Chiefs K Ryan Succop has been better than advertised in 2013, converting 10 of 12 field goals for the season (83.3%) and all 14 PATs for 44 points for his team.
"I just want to keep getting better," Succop said. "Having Thomas Gafford and Dustin Colquitt is huge; people don't understand how much goes into the snap and the hold and if that's a little bit off, then what that can mean for me. Those guys have done a great job; hopefully, that will continue and we'll keep getting better as a unit and continue to help our team win some games."
When Succop kicks off to the Raiders, Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton's defense will take the field, focused on trying to stop an Oakland offense, led by QB Terrelle Pryor.
"It's obviously a major concern," coach Sutton said. "Terrelle's a really good football player. He's playing the quarterback position very well, he's right at around 68% [for completions]. He's doing a great job of taking care of the football from a security standpoint. Anytime you add that other dimension, where you can extend a play, escape out of the pocket, and the thing he's doing a great job of is he's escaping and extending the play to throw the ball, that's where he's making a lot of plays. Obviously, he can take it and run upfield, any moment he desires to run, because he's one of these elite speed guys. He's a long-strider and you don't appreciate how fast he's running, until he goes by you; then you realize, that's trouble."
One of the many chaos creators on the Chiefs defense is Pro Bowl LB Tamba Hali, who in 2013 has 13 tackles, four sacks, one pick-six, two forced fumbles and one pass defensed. Hali emphasized the priority of containing Pryor, whose numbers on the year include 71-104 for 845 yards, four TDs, two INTs (97.6 passer rating), as well as 37 carries for a team-leading 229 yards.
"Yeah, we want to make sure we can keep him in the pocket and force him to throw the ball," Hali said. "We don't want him running around. Michael Vick is a different type of runner, but he's [Pryor] a long-strider. He reminds me of Cam Newton, when he came here last year and was running the option."
When it was Chiefs offensive coordinator Doug Pederson's time to address the media, it didn't take long, before he was asked about Pro Bowl RB Jamaal Charles' status and whether or not rookie RB Knile Davis may get some more looks.
"Jamaal's the guy," Pederson said. "He's going to go; he's a tough guy. Will we spell him from time-to-time with Cyrus (Gray) and Knile (Davis), yeah, we'll do that and give him a blow; we did it last week and we'll continue to do that. We'll just monitor his progress, throughout the game. Jamaal's very explosive and we need him on the football field; he understands that and he'll be ready to go."
Following the Chiefs afternoon practice, the team announced that Pro Bowl LB Justin Houston has been cleared to practice with the team, which will take place tomorrow, beginning at 11:45 AM CDT.
Before Chiefs fans attempt to break a Guinness World Record at Arrowhead Stadium, click here for something to keep the excitement and anticipation building, right up to game day.
RB - Jamaal Charles (toes) - limited participation
P - Dustin Colquitt (right knee) - limited participation
LB - Justin Houston (concussion) - limited participation
OL - Jeff Allen (groin) - full participation
WR - Donnie Avery (shoulder) - limited participation
TE - Anthony Fasano (ankle/knee) - did not practice
OL - Eric Fisher (concussion) - full participation
TE - Travis Kelce (knee) - out
S - Kendrick Lewis (ankle) - did not practice
TE - Sean McGrath (knee) - full participation
LB - Dezman Moses (toe) - full participation
OL - Geoff Schwartz (tricep) - full participation
RB - Anthony Sherman (knee) - full participation