Longing For The Chance … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs

When Lance Long walks into the Chiefs locker room, there a sense of something out of place with his presence in the group.

NFL locker rooms are full of physical freaks. I’m not talking circus style freaks, but just remarkable physical specimens. There are little guys who have thigh muscles bigger around than some people’s waists. There are big guys who have enough fast twitch fibers in their body that they can run faster than guys who weigh 100 pounds less.

Lance Long just doesn’t fit. When he walks in the door you expect the security guard to come running in, grab him around the collar and escort him out as a trespasser.

It’s just that the Chiefs wide receiver looks so normal. The 24-year old native of Michigan is listed at 5-11, which is generous; maybe if he’s standing on his tiptoes. Long supposedly weighs 186 pounds, but he must have been weighed after a really big dinner, with a couple rocks in his pocket.

“I’m not the prototypical NFL wide receiver,” Long said with a smile.

But there he is in the Chiefs locker room, and there he is on the football field Sunday afternoon, getting more and more playing time in the Chiefs offense.

“It’s just been a true blessing what’s happened for me,” said Long. “Just to get an opportunity to come in and help the team out, to do whatever I can, whether it’s on offense or special teams. It’s been a lot of fun.

“I’m just trying to get better each day.”

The situation with the Chiefs offense all year has not been good. Nine games into the ’09 season and this attack still has no identity. From week-to-week, players start and then are not active. It’s opportunity-central for any player who wants to work hard and long.

That’s Lance Long’s game. He will scare no one with his size. But he will work and work and work.

Todd Haley has noticed, Matt Cassel as well. That’s why in the three games he’s been on the active roster (he was promoted from the practice squad on October 25th) Long has been very active. Only Dwayne Bowe was the target for Cassel passes more often in the last three games than the 21 times the ball was thrown to Long. Bowe was a target 26 times. Both Long and Bowe caught 12 of those passes thrown to them in those games.

“Obviously the coaches noticed that he had a spark and he’s definitely got a great skill-set and a great skill level,” Cassel said of Long. “He prepares hard, he works hard, he’s diligent about what he does, and he came out and he performed. Anytime he gets open and I’m able to get him the ball, that’s a good thing.”

Haley talks about the “unique skills” that Long has. What are those abilities that make Long unusual?

“He’s a great slot receiver,” said Cassel. “He’s got tremendous quickness, he gets in and out of his breaks well, he catches the ball, he’s a tough guy – he’s not afraid to lay in a block on a linebacker or a safety. He’s a great player and he’s been helping us, there’s no doubt about that.”

Calling Long a “great player” at this point is a bit of a stretch. He’s still learning the game, making mistakes like he did against Jacksonville when he didn’t run out of bounds to stop the clock near the end of the first half.

But the fact he’s even on the field, participating and making contributions on the NFL level is amazing.

“I’m very thankful for the opportunity,” Long said. “I knew my time was coming; I just had to be patient. I had to treat every day like it was my last day, but that’s nothing unusual. That’s the way I’ve been playing football for a long time.”

Long has been told many times that he was too small to make something of himself in football. He was the same size he is now when he played for the Eisenhower Eagles in Shelby Township just northwest of Detroit. His team played in the Michigan state title game in his junior and senior seasons, and in fact he caught three TD passes in a losing effort as a junior. As a senior, he caught 45 passes for 980 yards and eight touchdowns, while also contributing seven interceptions as a free safety.

He walked on at the University of Toledo, spending a red-shirt season there. Long transferred to Mississippi State, where he sat out the 2004 season and then played three years (2005-07). He appeared in 35 games, with just seven starts. He caught 46 passes for 321 yards and one TD. He also returned five kickoffs.

He signed for the 2008 season as an undrafted rookie free agent with the Arizona Cardinals and spent the year on the practice squad.

“Lance was a guy in Arizona that I think we got for about $500 right after the draft,” said Haley, who was the Cardinals offensive coordinator last year. “One of our coaches on the staff had been a college coach of his and he knew him. Lance doesn’t have a lot of college career catches but he knew him and said he would be a great guy for camp. He’ll come in and give you an honest day’s work and when the draft ends that’s always a tough deal where you’re scrambling trying to find enough guys. You have holes at certain spots. I really didn’t have any expectations for Lance and really tried to run him off for the first month or so. He’ll probably attest to that.

“But as time went on you could tell this guy wasn’t going away. His role early on and for most of the year was just a show-team player. But every day the guy made plays and the defense didn’t like him and you take notice. That’s the way guys make it and there’s never going to be a day he can ever take off. But he’s quick and he’s tough and he goes a hundred miles an hour all the time. That’s what got my attention. As we’ve said here, if we’ve got a chance to upgrade we’re going to do it every time we can.”

So what is Lance Long’s future with the Chiefs?

“I think he’s shown enough to continue trying to work him in,” Haley said on Wednesday. “He hasn’t been perfect, the out-of-bounds (play vs. Jacksonville) being a big thing and last game he missed a big block late in that game that might have given us a chance to keep the ball at the end. With each guy you’ve got to take in account all the variables and this is a guy who does not have a lot of experience. We’re trying to give him on-the-job experience; that’s the best way to describe him.”

SIGNINGS, HONORS, INJURIES & MOVEMENT AROUND THE LEAGUE

  • AFC – Colts QB Peyton Manning named offensive player of the week; Chiefs SS Mike Brown named defensive player of the week; Bengals kick returner Bernard Scott named special teams player of the week.
  • NFC – Vikings WR Sidney Rice was named offensive player of the week; Packers CB Charles Woodson was named defensive player of the week; Redskins punter Hunter Smith named special teams player of the week.
  • BILLS – will contact former Broncos coach Mike Shanahan, former Saints head coach Jim Haslett, N.Y. Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride and Montreal Alouettes coach Marc Trestman about their head coaching job; named Ryan Fitzgerald the starting quarterback for this weekend’s game against the Jaguars; placed TE Derek Fine on the injured-reserve list (foot); signed QB Brian Brohm off the Packers practice squad.
  • BROWNS – placed TE Steve Heiden and P Dave Zastudil on the injured-reserve list; claimed on waivers LB Arnold Harrison (Steelers) and WR Jake Allen (Packers).
  • BUCCANEERS – head coach Raheem Morris was fined $20,000 by the NFL for yelling at game officials during last Sunday’s game against the Dolphins.
  • CHARGERS – placed OLB Jyles Tucker on the injured-reserve list; promoted OT Corey Clark from the practice squad.
  • DOLPHINS – placed RB Ronnie Brown on the injured-reserve list (foot).
  • EAGLES – RB Brian Westbrook declared out of Sunday’s game against the Bears because of a concussion.
  • LIONS – placed S Marquand Manuel on the injured-reserve list (shoulder); signed CB DeAngelo Smith.
  • RAIDERS – announced that Bruce Gradkowski will start at quarterback against the Bengals on Sunday, replacing JaMarcus Russell; reached a tentative agreement to remain at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum through the 2013 season.
  • RAVENS – placed S Haruki Nakamura on the injured-reserve list (ankle); signed K Billy Cundiff.

FROM THE PAGES OF CHIEFS HISTORY

On November 19, 1961, the Dallas Texans fell to the San Diego Chargers 24-14 at Balboa Stadium. The Chargers jumped out to a 17-0 lead at half-time and the Texans were never able to catch up. Dallas got a pair of second half touchdowns, as QB Cotton Davidson scored on a one-yard run and RB Johnny Robinson caught a 34-yard pass from Davidson. San Diego QB Jack Kemp (left) threw a pair of touchdown bombs of 53 and 61 yards and the Chargers defense contributed a 60-yard interception return for a TD by LB Bob Laraba. Davidson threw three interceptions.

On November 19, 1967, the Chiefs were beaten by the San Diego Chargers 17-16 at Municipal Stadium in front of a then record crowd of 46,738. It was a two-yard TD pass from Chargers QB John Hadl to WR Lance Alworth in the middle of the fourth quarter that won the game. The Chiefs trailed 10-9 at half-time, but in the third quarter WR Gloster Richardson caught a 35-yard TD scoring pass from QB Len Dawson. The Chiefs also got three FGs from Jan Stenerud. Hadl was 11 of 23 for 139 yards with a TD and an interception by CB Emmitt Thomas. Dawson finished 18 of 31 for 252 yards and one TD. San Diego RB Dickie Post ran for 108 yards on 18 carries with a TD run.

On November 19, 1972, the Chiefs lost to the San Diego Chargers 27-17 at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs turned the ball over six times in front of a crowd of 79,011 on a cold, windy day. The weather didn’t bother the Chargers, as QB John Hadl threw for 216 yards and a 20-yard TD pass to WR Gary Garrison (right). Hadl also scored on a one-yard run and RB Mike Garrett found the end zone on a three-yard run. The Chiefs had a pair of TD passes, as QB Len Dawson hit RB Wendell Hayes for four yards and then replacement Mike Livingston found WR Robert West for a 36-yard score

On November 19, 1978, the Chiefs lost to the Seattle Seahawks 13-10 at Arrowhead Stadium. With 15 seconds remaining in the game and the ball at the Seahawks one-yard line, Chiefs head coach Marv Levy decided to go for the winning touchdown rather than the tying field goal. QB Mike Livingston called a sweep and pitched the ball to RB Tony Reed. When he was hit by Seattle CB Dave Brown, he fumbled and the loose ball rolled around until Brown recovered at the 17-yard line. The Chiefs only TD came on a one-yard pass from Livingston to RB Ted McKnight. Livingston was 18 of 33 for 231 yards. KC lost four fumbles in the game that was played before 35,252 fans.

On November 19, 1989, the Chiefs tied the Browns 10-10 at Cleveland Stadium as Marty Schottenheimer made his first return to Ohio after coaching the Browns in 1988. The defenses were the stars here, as they forced five Cleveland turnovers and sacked QB Bernie Kosar (left) three times. CB Albert Lewis had an interception. The Chiefs only TD came on a three-yard fumble return by DE Neil Smith. The Browns defense had three interceptions and five sacks of KC QBs Steve Pelluer and Steve DeBerg.

On November 19, 1995, the Chiefs beat the Houston Oilers 20-13 in a Sunday night game at Arrowhead Stadium. This game was tied 13-13 with time running out in the fourth quarter. The Oilers had the ball and were trying to push the game into overtime. Former Chiefs RB Todd McNair carried the ball for Houston, but fumbled and it was picked up by S Mark Collins, who returned the ball 34 yards for the winning touchdown. The Chiefs only offensive touchdown was a three-yard pass from QB Steve Bono to WR Webster Slaughter. They also got a pair of FGs from K Lin Elliott. The KC defense picked off three Chris Chandler passes: S William White, LB Anthony Davis and DT Joe Phillips.

SAY HAPPY BIRTHDAY …

Born on November 19, 1979 in Washington, D.C. was RB Larry Johnson. He was selected in the first round of the 2003 NFL Draft out of Penn State. Until he was released 10 days ago, Johnson was on the way to becoming the leading rusher in Chiefs history, but he fell 75 yards short of breaking Priest Holmes record. Over his 75-game career with the Chiefs (2003-09), Johnson ran 1,375 times for 6,015 yards and 65 touchdowns. He caught 151 passes for 1,369 yards and six touchdowns.


31 Responses to “Longing For The Chance … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • November 19, 2009  - MenInRed says:

    If Lance Long is a poor mans Wes Welker then thats better than anything else we got beside Chambers and Bowe so I think he should be a welcomed addition to KC’s WR’s. Maybe as this year rolls on he will get that experience and become our Diamond in the Ruff for years to come. I do like to see the kid play and every time he gets the ball I keep thinking he may break a big play any second.

    Go Chiefs!!!


  • November 19, 2009  - Devil Dog 1976 says:

    Lance Long………………..Rob Thomas, kinda the same just separated by about 14 years. Rob Thomas was a very tough as nails kinda guy who some how always got his job done. I hope his determination rubs off onto some of the others, soon. We have 7 games left… how many of those can the boys win?? Now that we are cancer free,(LJ) I look for two more W’s.

    It is always about the TEAM…..and the right 53!

    In Coach Haley I trust…..do you?


  • November 19, 2009  - el cid says:

    Long is one of the high points of a sad season, a feel good story. Wish he was taller, to match his heart and determination. Hope he is becomes the unknown Poili/Haley found to help this team. Like I said before without Bowe we will see just what the Chiefs have in their WR corps.


  • November 19, 2009  - Harold C. says:

    Thanks for the article on LL Bob. It’s really nice when you do a write up on a player because it makes us fans feel more in touch with the team and what they are about. Great stuff. I hope LL succeeds with the Chiefs.


  • November 19, 2009  - Tim Geary says:

    Excellent player profile!


  • November 19, 2009  - Mad Chief says:

    I like Lance Long. I’m pulling for him to be a good player for us…and I think he can be.

    That being said…

    The constant Wes Welker comparison is about to make me puke. Welker is miles above where Long is right now. Will Long get there someday? Maybe. For now, though…I wish people would just let Lance Long be Lance Long.


  • November 19, 2009  - True Red & Gold says:

    Mad Chief always has something to bitch about. When you are done puking remember to get a pail next to your computer. With your weak stomach you are going to need it plenty.


  • November 19, 2009  - Rick says:

    LOL @ true red and gold comments


  • November 19, 2009  - Mad Chief says:

    True Red & Gold says:
    “Mad Chief always has something to bitch about.”

    Thanks.

    And what exactly did YOU bring to the conversation? Bitching about my bitching?


  • November 19, 2009  - el cid says:

    Got to laugh. Mad Chief is so positive about most Chiefs things, you can get diabetes just reading it. One comment about a never was who may not be the next go to guy and he is a bitcher. Now that is funny.

    How is this for bitching? Pioli/Haley have a real problem IDing talent. Jackson, Magee, TEs have shown little talent. LJ a mistake to keep. Bowe out of shape but gets to play every game. Goff only help for OL. Just a little bitching about the genius’ who run the Chiefs.


  • November 19, 2009  - ED says:

    Good story Bob. I like the guy hope he continues to get better. Because he looks like he can be a solid slot receiver for Cassell for years to come. If he continues his work ethic I think he can be a solid receiver. Still say in mid round of next year’s draft we might need to draft a couple receivers on this team to add some depth.


  • November 19, 2009  - Joe says:

    Lance Long will always give you his best. This guy is an extremely hard worker who has been patient for years to get an opportunity. He was rarely used in college, but brought his A-game everyday. Did you know that his only TD in college was a fumble recovery? Hasn’t caught a TD pass in a game since high school, yet he has continued to work hard everyday in college and the pros with a bulldog mentality. But, like any player you can expect a few rookie mistakes. As far as his size, he is physically stronger than most receivers who weigh 15-to-20 pounds more than he does.


  • November 19, 2009  - jimbo says:

    I think the “point on” comment about Lance from coach Haley was that he is a “spark” to the team. His work ethic is second to none. Cassel says he’s quick & precise in his routes. These are a few examples of why he is even in the NFL.
    The kid has a motor that won’t quit. This to me, sets a good example for all our players. Lance has all the tools (except for his size) to be a better than expected player. Heart, Desire, Passion, these are all great mental attributes. He has so far, proved to me that he has the potential. We need to see more of Mr. Long to determine if he has the true talent & skills neccesary to be a good player.
    I am grateful that coach Haley is giving him the opportunity to play. Lance knows that this may be his only NFL opportunity to prove to himself & Chiefs Nation that he belongs.
    Good reporting Bob. I think that all of us are rooting for this kid to be a star. He just needs to do it quickly.
    Go Chiefs.


  • November 19, 2009  - Josh says:

    el cid,
    I don’t think you can say that Jackson and Magee are showing little talent. Coming into the NFL the D-Line is one of the hardest positions to get accustomed to. And Jackson is really starting to show strides. I also believe Magee had a sack last week. Keeping LJ in hindsight was a mistake sure but at the time coming in and starting fresh I don’t think running off a running back under contract is the best idea. You also mention the TE’s that got picked up – mainly FA’s filling in and brought in for blocking Pope is a good example of that. As far as IDing talent look at Cassel and O’Callaghan are good pick-ups along with Chambers and Wade – you aren’t going to get every pick or acquisition right 100% of the time especially in the first year trying to figure out what your HC wants and getting scouts to look for that kind of player. And your “bitching” about Bowe being on the field when he is out of shape? He is a play maker and if you read the article Cassel seems to agree throwing him the ball more than anyone else in the last three games. I believe your being to critical of Pioli and Haley in their respective “rookie” years at their new roles.

    JB


  • November 19, 2009  - Jim Lloyd+ says:

    Never judge anyone buy their looks ..
    If everybody did , Hines Ward would have never been in the NFL .
    Thats who Lance Long looks like ,to me !


  • November 19, 2009  - BPinKC says:

    Lance Long = Chris Horn


  • November 19, 2009  - Alexthe"GREAT" says:

    Lance Long=Powdered Turd


  • November 19, 2009  - Arrowheadlines: Chiefs News 11/19 | Kansas City Chiefs Blog says:

    [...] Longing For The Chance … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs from Bob Gretz [...]


  • November 19, 2009  - colby says:

    Lance Long is not Wes Welker. Lance Long = Devonne Bess. Not a terrible thing to be. The reason everyone compares him to Welker or Chris Horn is because he is WHITE! WHITE does not = Welker. If Long was black with dread locks, he’d be compared to Bess, which is EXACTLY who he SHOULD be compared to.


  • November 19, 2009  - arrowhead1978 says:

    LOL… cassell has yet to prove that he was a good pick, like I said before look at his numbers at the end of the year and we’ll see if he was any better then Thigpen!!


  • November 19, 2009  - Mad Chief says:

    arrowhead1978 says:
    “cassell has yet to prove that he was a good pick, like I said before look at his numbers at the end of the year and we’ll see if he was any better then Thigpen!!”

    Comparing Cassel this year to Thigpen last year is hardly fair. Thigpen had Tony G to throw to last year…to the tune of 96 receptions, 1058 yards and 10 TD’s. So, I think it would be fair to say that Cassel’s numbers would look much better this year if Tony was still here.


  • November 19, 2009  - Alexthe"GREAT" says:

    I think its fair, Thigpen was a nobody who was thrust into the starting lineup due 2 injury! Cassel is a proven veteran who can do anything with the right weapons…..is what u all say. Thigpen was a project QB that made due with what experience(None) and players he had…and never made excuses.


  • November 19, 2009  - Mad Chief says:

    I haven’t heard Cassel make any excuses, either. All I’m saying is that you can’t take a guy out of the line-up who had 96 catches for over a thousand yards and 10 touchdowns, not replace him…and make a fair comparison on passing numbers. Take away Gonzalez’s numbers from Thigpen’s production last year, and what do Thigpen’s stats look like?


  • November 19, 2009  - SG says:

    “Now that we are cancer free,(LJ) I look for two more W’s.

    It is always about the TEAM…..and the right 53!

    In Coach Haley I trust…..do you?”

    I agree with your estimate – 2 more wins. Long is one of the Right 53, LJ was not obviously. Long is another one of those Arizona-East players. I still expect more from Haley/Pioli – so we’ll let you stick with that motto for now.


  • November 19, 2009  - Behind Enemy Lines says:

    Alex the Great,
    You’re going to love this…we don’t have to wait to know if Cassel was better than Thigpen was last year. He has already doubled the number of wins Tyler gave us last year…in fewer starts.


  • November 19, 2009  - Alexthe"GREAT" says:

    He sure has……..he is definetly worth the 2nd round pick. Kudos 2 Cassel he is a Franchise QB!


  • November 19, 2009  - gorillafan says:

    you cannot compare the 2….PERIOD!!
    diff players–diff coaches–diff system

    They had to change the entire offense to a half spread half wild cat last year just to make thigpen complete some passes…

    this regime isnt going to run a SHORT TERM OFFENSE to get a few t’ds. they are going to stick with their NFL offensive scheme and get the players going with it.

    Thigpen numbers would prob be much worse this year because this offense is an NFL offense, not a DII offense…

    SO lay off on the cassel sucks, because everyone else would have sucked worse!!


  • November 19, 2009  - Bakjon says:

    I wish that all the Thigpen supporters would remember two things: first, how many games did Thigpen win? One. Secondly, Thigpen had to operate out of an offense where he didn’t line up behind center because he couldn’t operate in an offense where could line up behind center. Cassell has to deal with a lousy offensive line, a bad running game, a new system that was implemented one week before the season opener (granted he was hurt at the time), and changes in the receiving corp (he finally got some decent receivers in Chambers, Long, and Wade before Bowe was suspended). Once Cassell gets some help he’ll be fine.


  • November 19, 2009  - el cid says:

    Get off Cassel’s back. A second round pick for him and the big V, a steal. He has played an iron man role with our OL. His ability to lead this team and hit the open man will improve as the OL improves. What more do you want? Lots want to give Jackson and Magee years to develope, so cut Cassel some slack.


  • November 20, 2009  - SG says:

    “Keeping LJ in hindsight was a mistake sure but at the time coming in and starting fresh I don’t think running off a running back under contract is the best idea.”

    This is a call-out to DJ – who still has a chance to learn from the veteran leadership around him. DBowe got a 4-game time-out due to choices he made. LJ got cut (a move that cost him probably $3-million or more) due to choices he made and non-performance on the field. DJ has a veteran named Vrabel he could learn from, step up, and be a real leader.




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