Focus On Practice Squad … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs

How about some football talk? Not draft talk. Not lockout talk. Just plain old football talk.

We are 50 days away from the NFL Draft. Little has happened with the Chiefs roster in the 65 days since they were overwhelmed by the Baltimore Ravens in that first-round game in the playoffs. That’s because all that decertification and lockout nonsense has postponed free agency and brought a shutdown on signings with the end of the labor agreement last week. The Chiefs signed just 10 players in this off-season. All were with the team in some fashion last year.

In the next couple of weeks, we are going to dig through the players still on the roster and identify players that could advance to help the Chiefs in 2011, and those that will likely find themselves rolling on down the road to another team or their life’s work.

Our starting point will be the practice squad, the eight man developmental team that saw a lot of action in the 2009 season, but was very quiet in 201810 as Pioli/Haley became more comfortable with the bodies around them like WR Verran Tucker (left).

Here are the numbers over two years:

 

Season

Total Players On P.S.

Promoted From P.S. to Active

Demoted From

Active to P.S.

Players Released

From P.S.

2009

18

8

0

2

2010

14

4

3

2

Promoted from practice squad to active roster: (2009) OT Barry Richardson, WR Lance Long, WR Quinten Lawrence, RB Javarris Williams, DE Dion Gales, DT Derek Lokey, S Ricky Price, G Darryl Harris; (2010) QB Tyler Palko, S Ricky Price, WR Verran Tucker, WR Quinten Lawrence.

Demoted from active roster to practice squad: (2009) none; (2010) WR Quinten Lawrence, WR Jeremy Horne, LB Justin Cole.

Players released from practice squad: (2009) TE Tom Crabtree, DT Marlon Favorite; (2010) DT Garrett Brown, LB Eric Bakhtiari.

——–

Those are the names and numbers for two seasons. Obviously there has been help from the practice squad with the performances of Richardson at RT and Tucker at WR. There are players like Lawrence and Price who have bounced back and forth in both seasons and produced very little on the field.

The Chiefs resigned nine players who were essentially practice squad players from last season. Along with second-year LB Cory Greenwood, those are the only new contracts in the building. Let’s take a look at those nine players in the developmental ranks and what their futures may mean to the Chiefs.

LB Justin Cole – (6-3, 242) spent 11 weeks on the active roster but did not play; then spent five weeks on the practice squad. Physically gifted in size and good speed (4.7 seconds in the 40-yard dash coming out of San Jose State) he struggled through training camp and the pre-season with picking up the defense. There were some questions during the season about his maturity, as the 23-year old was always one of those guys who got caught talking in the library. Cole has a shot if he gets stronger between the ears.

DL Dion Gales – (6-5, 310) spent the entire season on the practice squad and didn’t appear to be a threat to be activated at any time, including early in the season when Tyson Jackson injured his knee. Gales played three games in the ’09 season. He has been a hustle guy, but his upside is limited.

OT Bobby Greenwood – (6-5, 280) made the difficult move during training camp last year of going from the defensive line to the offensive line. That switch so late in the pre-season figured to be a ticket to the waiver wire. Greenwood didn’t make the active roster, but was signed to the practice squad for the second consecutive year. He spent all 16 games there and won over a big fan in Todd Haley who after watching him practice all year says he can play tackle in the league. This pre-season will be very important to Greenwood and his chances. Listed at 280 pounds, he’s probably put on some weight since that number from early ’09.

G Darryl Harris – (6-4, 300) was on his way to making the active roster in 2010 training camp before a knee injury shelved him and sent him to another season on the practice squad like ’09. Harris seemed to recover from the injury, but there was no room on the active roster for him and he spent all 16 weeks on the practice squad. He can also play center and in many ways is a poor man’s Brian Waters.

WR Jeremy Horne – (6-2, 193) made an NFL opening day roster in the hardest route possible, an undrafted free agent rookie. Horne ended up playing three games and going inactive for two games before he was released and then signed to the practice squad. He was demoted when Verran Tucker was promoted. Horne has nice speed and the ability to run with the football. Consistency and special teams work will give him another chance to play on Sundays.

ILB Micah Johnson – (6-2, 258) has a stout, powerful frame that he used working at inside linebacker for four weeks in practice. Johnson is not especially fast (4.9 in the 40-yard dash), but it was easy to see on tape that he arrived at the spot of the ball with the ability to deliver a big hit. Coming out of Kentucky, he was medically red flagged for recurrent knee injuries. Johnson has got to improve his speed if he’s going to be a factor on defense or special teams.

TE Cody Slate – (6-4, 229) was with the Chiefs in the pre-season and then came back and signed with the practice squad for the post-season game. He ended his college career at Marshall as the program’s all-time leading tight end receiver with 199 catches and 23 touchdowns. After second-year man Tony Moeaki, Slate is the best pass catching TE on the Chiefs roster right now.

LB Pierre Walters – (6-5, 269) spent all of the ’09 season on the Chiefs active roster. But he could not duplicate that effort in the ’10 pre-season and ended up working the practice. Walters has an NFL body and good speed for a man his size at 4.78 in the 40-yard dash. This will be a very important off-season, training camp and pre-season for Walters; he’ll need to amp his production.

LB Eric Bakhtiari – (6-3, 259) has bounced around the NFL for the last two seasons and he’ll apparently start his third year with the Chiefs. On the college level at the University of San Diego, he was a pass rushing machine off the corner but he’s not displayed those traits in his time with a number of teams – last year alone Bakhtiari was with seven different teams including a short period with the Chiefs.


10 Responses to “Focus On Practice Squad … Wednesday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • March 16, 2011  - Justin D says:

    Not sure what to make of this…would hope to find a gem but it sounds unlikely. The loss to the Ravens showed we still have a long a way to go but I do not feel confident we are going to be able to address our needs and fill the pipline.


  • March 16, 2011  - napahank says:

    I like that we are practice squad heavy with the big guys…OL,DL and LB’s (and even TE).

    If it is possible to develop even half of these guys into role players on the active roster (and maybe even one or two future starters) what a gift that would be and what a help that would be to saving draft choices.

    If Slate could chip block good enough to take Popes spot it would a big advantage for the passing game in the two TE set packages and with DMC lining up as a slot receiver it could prove big problems for defenses to cover.


  • March 16, 2011  - BayourCityChief says:

    So is Cory Greenwood expected to be on the active roster this year? If I’m not mistaken that’s where he was headed last year before the neck injury.


  • March 16, 2011  - teambalco says:

    Micah Johnson has the most upside of any player on this list, reminiscent of Mr. Lorenzo Levon Kirkland.


  • March 16, 2011  - teambalco says:

    Micah Johnson has the most upside of any player on this list, reminiscent of Mr. Lorenzo Levon Kirkland. He’s followed in a close second by Mr. Pierre Walters.


  • March 16, 2011  - el cid says:

    I have hopes for the group because they were the best available at the time of their joining. That said I figure only 2 will make the every day roster, probably role players. May have to make due with situation this year.


  • March 16, 2011  - rufus says:

    hey Bob, did year “201810″ pass us already?? lol

    It would seem time is running out for some young chiefs players for sure. I had hope for Walters, Gales & Cole but it sounds like they are gonna need to put up this season. thx 4 the article


  • March 16, 2011  - Michael says:

    Cory Greenwood was on the active roster last year. He was a key special teamer, and saw some time on defense as well. He has a chance to be a good player; he’s got size, speed, athleticism and a great work ethic. If he continues to develop he will push Belcher for playing time. I think maybe the player BayourCityChief is thinking of is LB Cameron Sheffield. He was looking good in the preseason, showing some pass-rushing ability, before he got hurt. By all accounts, he’s now healthy and ready to go whenever football gets going again. He should win a spot as a rush linebacker if he stays healthy.

    Coach says you’re either getting better and moving forward, or you’re going backward and out. That applies to Cole, Gales, Walters and Harris. To me, Tucker, Horne and Slate are the most interesting; a late bloomer and two small school guys who have flashed talent and could find spots on the team if they show that continued improvement.

    Micah Johnson is a thumping run-stuffer, no doubt, but do the Chiefs have room for him? I still dream that Quinten Lawrence matures enough to take advantage of all that speed he has. He appears to be a hard-working kid who doesn’t give up easy, so we’ll see.

    It helps a team tremendouly if it can find and develop a few good role players and a few core special teamers from undrafted free agents, so lets hope some of these players and a few from the 2011 group are good enough to beef up the bottom end of the roster for KC this year.


  • March 17, 2011  - el cid says:

    Michael, as usual we do not entirely agree. You are so correct about undrafted free agents stepping up on team that are better than most. But come on, last year’s practice squaders should have stepped up by the end of the year. Seldom do habitual practice squaders become dominate types, more like one year wonders.

    As for Lawrence and your day dreaming, more like a nightmare to me. He has been cut at least 2 times and no one else wanted him. Just a waste of space, especially if there is a signing period for undrafted college free agents because just about anyone could replace him.


  • March 17, 2011  - Michael says:

    Dude, I said it was a dream. It’s not like it’s never happened; a small college player taking time to develop. You can’t teach speed, so when I see guys like Lawrence who have it, I’d like to see them be able to use it.

    If you’re looking for dominate types from the practice squad, you’re probably looking in the wrong place. Once in awhile, someone like Waters emerges, but not usually. If you can get a group that can excel on special teams and be good role players on offense or defense, you’re doing pretty good. I didn’t say anyone in the current group will make it there or beyond, just that Tucker, Horne and Slate intrigue me the most.




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