Finishing With The Offense … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs

When it’s a team that does not win many games, no matter when they are scheduled, every opportunity to score a victory is important.

So it is with the Chiefs on Thursday night, when they host the Green Bay Packers at Arrowhead Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. and the local TV blackout has been lifted.

Nothing gets forgotten faster than the outcome of the final pre-season game. But it’s an important night for a handful of players that were trying to earn their spot on the roster. By 5 p.m. on Saturday, the Chiefs like the rest of the NFL, must have its roster down to 53 players.

Over two days we are providing the lay of the roster land, or at least the look from our eyes after watching every practice of the pre-season and every play of three exhibition games. Today is the offense and here’s the defense. There are three different levels in our guess work evaluations:

  • RED means they are a lock to make the roster.
  • BLACK means they are sitting in a good position.
  • BLUE means they are on the bubble.

Here’s the offensive side of the roster. With each position are the range of spots that group should have on the final roster. I’ve also listed the players at each position in a ranking of where I think they stand within the group.

QUARTERBACK (2 or 3)

  1. Matt Cassel – It seems that some in the red and gold nation have decided to cut the cord on Cassel and his future as the Chiefs franchise quarterback. Near as I can tell, those that have jumped the ship are unhappy with his pre-season performance on top of his play from last year. Such is the life of the quarterback. There is no quiet way to earn the job and improve in the NFL. Cassel seems equipped to handle this type of pressure, but there’s no question his improvement is key to the success of the ’10 season for the Chiefs.
  2. Brodie Croyle – There’s one thing we know about Croyle – he will get hurt. Little bumps, big bruises and everything in between, one of the abilities that Croyle hasn’t shown is availability. The Chiefs invested a tender offer in him, so there’s no question that Croyle will stay. But he needs to play well and play a lot against Green Bay. Most of all, he needs to get through the evening without any new injuries.
  3. Tyler Palko – Because of Croyle’s injury, Palko got more practice and game snaps than usually go to the No. 3 quarterback in pre-season. He improved throughout the schedule, but then he had nowhere to go but improve by what he showed in the off-season. Palko’s roster spot will be lost if a better prospect or more experienced QB pops up on the waiver wire.

RUNNING BACK/FULLBACK (4 or 5)

  1. RB Jamaal Charles – Whether he is the starting QB or not really doesn’t matter; Charles will be the engine that pushes the Chiefs offense forward. The job for Charlie Weis and Cassel is simple – get him the ball, and do it often.
  2. RB Thomas Jones – At 32, it’s hard to know when that moment comes that Jones’ long career is over. But for older running backs, it happens fast. It can come down in the span of a month, let a long a season. By not being the featured back, Jones may be able to have a very productive season.
  3. RB Jackie Battle – In his previous two pre-seasons with the Chiefs, Battle started strong, and then tailed off due to injuries or just being beaten up. This year, it’s been the opposite; he didn’t start well, but he’s come on strong in the last few weeks. He’s more power than speed, and he doesn’t run from contact. His work on the special teams pretty much guarantees him a 53-man roster ticket.
  4. FB Tim Castille – The FB in this offense isn’t going to be on the field a lot, probably less than 30 percent of the time. Castille has been Todd Haley’s favorite since he signed on last year. He’s a mediocre runner and blocker, but does contribute on special teams. That’s where he has an edge on the competition
  5. FB Mike Cox – A slow start in the pre-season put Cox in a competitive hole, but he’s fought out of that over the last couple weeks and is now in the discussion for a possible roster spot. It’s hard to see them carrying two fullbacks, especially with Battle around. The Green Bay game will be a big one for him.
  6. RB Javarris Williams – After a very non-descript rookie season, Williams really took a step forward in the off-season and training camp. He’s shown good power, a little wiggle in his running style and he can catch the ball. Practice squad could be where he lands.

WIDE RECEIVER (5 or 6)

  1. Chris Chambers – The veteran receiver had a fairly quiet pre-season, and that’s good if he was resting up and preparing for the regular season. If something else is at work there – nagging injury or depreciation of ability – then that’s not good for the Chiefs offense.
  2. Dwayne Bowe – What Haley has wanted from Bowe is reliability and consistency and for the first time in his four-year career, that’s what he is providing. The coaches are not taking any of that for granted right now, because Bowe’s personality means he could revert back to the DBowe Show at the drop of a pass.
  3. Dexter McCluster – No matter where he has been placed on the field in the pre-season, McCluster has produced. That means he’ll just continue to get his chances at both wide receiver and running back on offense.
  4. Jerheme Urban – His addition is quite an upgrade in talent when compared to Bobby Wade, who was essentially the No. 3-4 receiver spot last year. He’s a very good athlete and can produce on special teams.
  5. Terrance Copper – Work in the kicking game is going to be Copper’s ticket to the active roster. Last year, he was one of the team’s best on special teams whether it was blocking or coverage.
  6. Jeremy Horne – The undrafted rookie free agent out of UMass has flown up the charts in the last few weeks and we see how the coaches feel about him when he’s starting to pop up on the No. 1 special teams units. If he doesn’t stick, they’ll try to push him to the practice squad.
  7. Quinten Lawrence – A draft choice from last year, Lawrence really hasn’t developed much in the 18 months that he’s been around the team. He remains one of the fastest players on the roster and that could keep him in business.
  8. Rich Gunnell – Depending on what happens above him among receivers, Gunnell may get a shot at the practice squad.
  9. Verrand Tucker – It’s hard to see where he fits in on the 53-man roster.

TIGHT END (2 or 3)

  1. Leonard Pope – He’s primarily a blocker, but Cassel has shown the willingness to look for Pope down the field as a receiver. As long as he keeps moving defenders out of the way for the running game, he’ll have a spot on the roster.
  2. Tony Moeaki – It’s so disappointing that injuries slowed down his pre-season development. Since that is the profile he displayed at Iowa, there’s a real concern that availability is the concern with him. If he can stay on the field, he will provide another weapon for the offense.
  3. Jake O’Connell – If it came just to his ability to catch the ball, O’Connell would have been cut weeks ago. He has the most inconsistent hands on the club and drops way too many passes. But O’Connell has bulked up and he can provide help as a blocker and on special teams.
  4. Leroy Banks – Built more along the lines of a big wide receiver, Banks would need a miracle to make the final roster. He’ll receive consideration for the practice squad.

OFFENSIVE LINE (9 or 10)

  1. LT Branden Albert – For the most part, the young veteran had a good pre-season and seems ready to pick up where he left off last season. Albert was a much improved player in the second half of the schedule, especially down the stretch. No one has challenged him for playing time on that corner.
  2. RG Ryan Lilja – So far he’s been a step forward at the position from what the Chiefs plugged in there last year. Lilja’s ability to move is something that Weis/Haley will try to take advantage of in the running and screen games.
  3. LG Brian Waters – The team’s most tenured player has at times looked like he’s in Pro Bowl form this pre-season. He certainly is moving far better than he was last year with the foot injury he suffered on the first day of camp.
  4. C Casey Wiegmann – Veteran center doesn’t appear to be anything but two years older than the last time he was in the K.C. lineup. There are some DTs that he can handle because of his knowledge and ability to get leverage. There are others that will blow him up because they are so much bigger and more powerful. Haley likes his mobility.
  5. C/G Jon Asamoah – Third-round draft choice has shown good athletic skills and he’s improved throughout the pre-season with his techniques and fundamentals. He’ll be in the starting lineup somewhere, maybe as early as the end of the ’10 season.
  6. C Rudy Niswanger – Veteran center has been in a fight for his life to keep the job he grabbed two years ago when Wiegmann left the team. With Wiegmann back, it presents and interesting battle for playing time. Niswanger can play guard as well.
  7. RT Ryan O’Callaghan – Average at best, O’Callaghan looks like he’s going to start the season with a groin injury that will limit his mobility. Unfortunately, nobody challenged him for the starting spot there before he was hurt.
  8. OT Barry Richardson – The Tampa Bay and Philadelphia games may have saved his chances with the Chiefs. Until then, he was headed out the door. But against the Bucs and Eagles, he got a lot of snaps and played both the right and left sides.
  9. G/T Ikechuku Ndukwe – His ability to play both guard and tackle will get Ndukwe’s ticket punched for a roster spot.
  10. C/G Lemuel Jeanpierre – Versatile undrafted rookie out of South Carolina, he has the skill to grab a practice squad spot. Just 23 years old, there’s some potential there.
  11. G Darryl Harris – A left knee injury destroyed any chance that Harris had of making a roster splash. Given the fact that he was moved into the starting lineup when Waters was injured, it tells you the coaches think highly of him. That might get him a roster spot.
  12. G Dan Santucci – Signed as an injury replacement, he has shown some skills during his short time with the club.
  13. G/T Colin Brown – Last year’s draft choice out of Mizzou, Brown has struggled, whether he’s worked at guard or tackle. If he survives, it should only be on the practice squad.
  14. T Bobby Greenwood – After moving over from the defensive line, he’s going to need practice squad time to have a legitimate shot as a blocker.

TOTALS: 20 locks, 6 looking good and 10 players riding the bubble. There are 36 offensive players on the roster right now.

NFL PERSONNEL FILE FOR WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 1

  • BEARS – claimed C/G Edwin Williams off waivers from the Redskins; released RB Brandon Minor.
  • BUCCANEERS — assistant defensive line coach Chris Mosley was arrested on DUI charges on Tuesday evening
  • CARDINALS – signed DT Darnell Dockett to a 4-year contract extension worth nearly $50 million, with $31 million in guaranteed dollars. The extension pushes his contract into the 2015 season.
  • CHARGERS – claimed CB Fred Bennett on waivers from the Texans.
  • RAVENS – placed FB Mike McLaughlin on the injured-reserve list (hip), ending his season.
  • REDSKINS – signed QB John Beck to a 2-year contract extension worth $2.25 million; released CB Byron Westbrook.
  • SEAHAWKS – placed CB Josh Pinkard (knee) on the reserve/non-football injury list.

11 Responses to “Finishing With The Offense … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • September 2, 2010  - el cid says:

    Two good articles, some roster spots I like and some I don’t. Do not really question anything because Bob know more than me. But overall, this roster while better than last year, will not scare anyone in the NFL. Who would you have to gameplan against? Arenas on special teams? Who on offense, ignor WR and stop the run? Tamba on defense, maybe you just run wide and let the Chiefs try to catch you? Let’s get this season started.


  • September 2, 2010  - Paul says:

    Meh … I still think we get 6-8 wins with this group. FYI we play the Packers tonight, whom I think are making the Super Bowl this year. Their offense is as good if not better than any offense in the league. It will be a great test of our defense tonight.


  • September 2, 2010  - Jimbo says:

    Good analysis Bob. A player here, a player there, maybe. Tonights game will determine the fate of the bubble players ( like maybe 2 or 3 of them).

    I think the depth of our team is much better this year. Thus far I’ve noticed our second team has kept pace with the oppositions second team through 3 games and at times we were better. A encouraging sign at this point.

    I really like Brodie Croyle, his arm is a thing of beauty. It’s just a crying shame he can’t stay healthy. Cassel will have no excuses this year. I for one, hope he does’nt need any. Needless to say, I am excited for the games to begin on Sept. 13th.
    Go Chiefs.


  • September 2, 2010  - Dave says:

    Great thing about Cassel is that he’s tough and he showed it every game last season. If he remains healthy and gains experience I think he will be very good for us.


  • September 2, 2010  - el cid says:

    Paul, supposedly GB has issues G-C-G. But they really got a QB. Just nobody get hurt. Wins?, I wanted 8 but just do not see enough talent on the offense, short passing game can clog the defenders so it effects the running game. The front 7 on defense have to earn their money this year or Haley will have to blow it up in 2011.


  • September 2, 2010  - Jimbo says:

    el cid, Agreed. The front 7 are a make or break group this season. Does’nt really matter which 7. (except: Dorsey,Jackson & McGee) If they mature & continue to develop, I envision an 8 win season.
    Go Chiefs.


  • September 2, 2010  - jim says:

    Lot of you guys think I put toooo much emphasis on this, but I can’t let myself ignore the Weiss/Crennell factor. I personally think their planning is worth 3 games this year ——– I put us at 8-9 wins. Our running game opens up so much, even if it is what some call a dink and dunk passing game. Special teams coverage will be greatly improved, along with field position with better returns.

    Our D seems to be MUCH quicker this year, and absent a brain fart or two with rookies, we should make people actually take our defense serious.

    Somebody shoot the gun, and lets get this season started.


  • September 2, 2010  - dan in joplin says:

    I am HOPING for 9 wins, because I think that will win the West! When reality sets in, I will say 7 and we are improved, but fall short. I hope that if any of the youngins are remotely close to being ready to be on the field, that they go ahead and get them out there! What would we have to lose? Plus, it will only make us that much better for next year! Sorry elcid! It’s called a process! I believe the offense will be improved and I agree with you jim, our defense is quicker and special teams.


  • September 2, 2010  - Don says:

    Since I’m a long suffering Chiefs fan I get a chuckle when we talk about getting 8-9 wins in a year. If we do most of us will feel like it’s Christmas! 2 wins, then 4 wins. Now 8 this year? I’d be digging it! That would mean 16 wins next year, right? Seriously though. I’m foaming at the mouth just to get the real games started! I don’t have a clue how we’ll do but 6-9 wins seem to be the range most expect. Since I just scored some killer MNF tickets I’d love to kick the season off with a win! I’m tired of the sad 3 hour rides home in past years. My buddy who’s coming with me says I’d better have bail money if we win! I told him to have smelling salts for me too! Just Do It!


  • September 2, 2010  - Ben says:

    Why is Urban projected to make the team? What exactly has he shown so far this offseason/preseason, I don’t remember much. I’ve seen/heard more from Lawrence. I hope the Chiefs carry 6 wideouts (Chambers, Bowe, McCluster, Horne, Lawrence and Copper).


  • September 2, 2010  - el cid says:

    Right question but then you added Lawrence to final roster, Why again? How about but them both and see who is available after other teams get to 53?




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