Behind enemy lines: Kansas City

His team is giving up only 16 points a game, and Chiefs coach Herm Edwards believes that will win a lot of NFL games over the long haul. But not when your team also is averaging only eight points a game on offense and has scored only one touchdown in its first two starts.

That's why the 0-2 Chiefs, who played an intentionally close-to-the-vest game in their 9-6 loss at Denver prior to last week's bye, know they need to open some things up offensively when they come back from the break for a home game with 1-2 San Francisco.

They should feel better about trying to do so for two reasons. One, backup QB Damon Huard, who hadn't started an NFL game since 2000 before getting the call for the injured Trent Green in Denver, has a game under his belt now. Two, and perhaps most important, he's at home. The Chiefs should be able to try some things at Arrowhead that might have gotten them beat well before overtime in Denver.

"You've got to play the cards you're dealt, but you also got to know where you're playing," Edwards explained. "Are you playing in Vegas, or are you playing in your own backyard?

"I know we have to open the offense up a little more than we did (in Denver)," Edwards added. "But the thing (Huard) has to realize is that he doesn't have to win the game. Sometimes you look at your quarterback and go, 'Hey, you've got to win the game.' But all he has to do is manage the game and don't turn the ball over. We've turned the ball over too many times in the first two games, and we haven't won."

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"Offensively, we don't want to kick what?" he asked as his news conference earlier this week.

"Field goals," came the answer from the press.

"You want to hold them to what? You know what it is? My supposedly favorite deal ..." came another Edwards quiz.

"Field goals," answered the chorus.

Edwards' intent was to shed the perception that he cautiously plays for field goals on offense. He wants touchdowns as much as Dick Vermeil did. The correlation between his arrival and the Chiefs offensive downturn, he says, does not equal causation.

Nonetheless, the Chiefs have scored 16 points in two games. And that equals 0-2.

"For some reason, people think I'm getting labeled a field goal kicker," he said. "I want to score touchdowns, I really do. You can't average eight points a game and win a whole lot of games in this league."

To break into double digits Sunday, the Chiefs will need to remove the straight jacket from Huard, who was so conservative against Denver, he made Rush Limbaugh looked like a tree-hugging hippie.

The Chiefs say they will do so, but the difference between saying and doing might be Kansas City's ability to protect Huard, a stationary object in the pocket who, when hit, has had difficulty holding onto the ball in Weeks 1 and 2. With left tackle Kyle Turley nursing a sore back, Huard could be doing the same Monday morning.

Running back Larry Johnson has been steady, if unspectacular, in Kansas City's first two games, rushing for 194 yards. He said he has felt some big runs coming on, though none bigger than his 24-yarder at Denver have materialized.

In the end, though, the Chiefs have been in position to score, but haven't.

"We've got to continue to hold the points down and score some points, especially in the Red (Zone) area," Edwards said. "We're not very good in the Red area. We've turned the ball over and we haven't scored points. We've been down there and we've left some points on the field."

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Green was back in the Chiefs locker room Thursday, but he's still a long way from getting back in the Kansas City lineup.

Green, sidelined since the third quarter of the season opener with a severe concussion, will miss a second game Sunday when the Chiefs return from their bye week and host San Francisco.

But while Green can finally drive himself to Arrowhead and attend team meetings with the hope of being a non-active advisor on the KC sideline Sunday, he said during his first meeting with the media Thursday that there is no timetable yet for his return. Green said it was "unreasonable" to think that he could return to practice next week and be ready to play in Arizona on Oct. 8.

Green, 36, said he had been cleared to resume some light cardio work, but he cannot yet run or lift weights.

"I know that at some point in time I'm planning to come back and play," Green said Thursday.

"I've got the support of my wife and kids on this. They've just asked me to be honest with them, because from everything I've heard about concussions, if you come back too quickly from one, you're more susceptible to another one. And sometimes you can have irreversible damage if you get one stacked on another.

"But if you wait until you're healed, or at least until the CAT scans are clear, your body is no more susceptible to getting a second one than it was before. But as to when that day is, no one knows, and I've asked 100 times."

Green began his career under San Francisco offensive coordinator Norv Turner when the two were with the Washington Redskins.

Green drove to Arrowhead Stadium and visited with teammates Wednesday, though he did not practice, attend meetings or speak on record with media. The injured quarterback, dressed in sweat pants and a Chiefs T-shirt, appeared in good spirits and joked with reporters about a beard developing on his face.

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Fans closely following the Chiefs may recall TE Tony Gonzalez's frustration at his lack of red zone calls last year, when he caught just two touchdown passes.

Because he's a weapon, and because he is unhappy with his contract, the Chiefs promised Gonzo more TD chances this season, though in two third-and-5 situations inside the opponents' 11-yard line, the Chiefs have run both times. Gonzalez has one TD this year.

"We like to get him the ball, yeah, but there are some other guys we'd like to get the ball to, too," Edwards said.

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The Chiefs are 0-2, a fact that has the team expressing shock and disappointment. But the general feeling at 1 Arrowhead Drive is that, given the circumstances, it's not a terrible 0-2.

Consider the following: After two games, Kansas City was No. 10 in total defense. The Chiefs held Carson Palmer to 127 passing yards. They went to overtime at Denver, a place that had been a slaughterhouse for past Chiefs teams. And that was with a quarterback who hadn't started a game in six years.

Plus, the two teams the Chiefs have lost to -- Cincinnati and Denver -- are a combined 5-1.

"I told our football team that, to be honest," Chiefs coach Herman Edwards said. "We lost to two pretty good football teams and both went on the road this week and won. So, it kind of tells you what we've faced the last two weeks. That's what I told our guys: you can't get down on yourselves."

The Chiefs' problems have almost all been on the offensive side. Other than a no-huddle drive by the Bengals and an overtime drive by the Broncos, the Chiefs defense has appeared to have the advantage over the offenses it has faced.

Offensively, Kansas City has been ultra-conservative, partially because Green has been out since the third quarter against the Bengals and partially because Edwards favors that approach, particularly on the road.

Edwards said the Chiefs would open up the playbook this week at home against the 49ers, even with Green sidelined.

"We've got to score some touchdowns," he said. "We've only scored 16 points in two games. That's not a lot of points. I think we're giving up 16 a game and defensively if you can hold teams to 16 points every week you've got a chance to win in this league."

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When the schedule came out, Kansas City's Week 4 matchup with the 49ers looked like an easy win.

Not so anymore.

"They've won a game already and we haven't," Edwards said. "So we've got to find a way to win a game. We're playing a team that's a lot better than they were last year."

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PLAYER NOTES
--- QB Damon Huard is the 10th-rated quarterback in the NFL with a 92.5 rating, one spot above 49ers QB Alex Smith, and one spot below the Chiefs Week 1 opponent, Carson Palmer. Huard, in starting for the first time since 2000 in the Chiefs loss at Denver, is now 5-2 as a starting quarterback. He completed 17 of 23 passes for only 133 yards in the limited game plan he was presented in Denver.
--- RB Larry Johnson leads the Chiefs in both rushing yards (194) and receiving yards (121). Johnson has rushed for 100 or more yards in six of eight career starts at Arrowhead. The Chiefs have won nine consecutive home games when featuring a 100-yard rusher, and Johnson was the man in seven of those. San Francisco has lost 19 consecutive games when yielding a 100-yard rusher.
--- TE Tony Gonzalez will break the franchise receiving touchdowns record with his next touchdown grab. He is tied with Otis Taylor for first with 57 career TD catches. The 57 touchdowns also place him third on the franchise overall touchdowns list behind Taylor and Priest Holmes.
--- P Dustin Colquitt is the NFL's 18th rated punter with a 44.6 average, but his left-footed blasts have been effective. The Chiefs are third in the league in punt coverage, allowing three yards per return and Colquitt's 39.7 net average is No. 10 in the NFL.
--- WR Rod Gardner, acquired as a free agent earlier this month, may be available Sunday, coach Herm Edwards said. "He's a fast study and could be playing this week," he said. "No doubt about it."
--- WR Eddie Kennison recorded the Chiefs' longest play from scrimmage this year with a 37-yard completion in the last game against Denver. But Kennison finished that game with only two catches for 39 yards.
--- WR/KR Dante Hall had eight touches for 137 yards against Denver. He averaged 29.5 yards on two kickoff returns and 14.4 on five punt returns.
--- DE Tamba Hali, a rookie from Penn State, is Kansas City's leading tackler through two games, his 16 stops topping second-year linebacker Derrick Johnson's 14.
--- DT James Reed, who followed Edwards to Kansas City from the New York Jets, has been KC's most productive defensive tackle, registering 12 tackles, which ranks fifth on the team.
--- LB Boomer Grigsby, who did not play against the Broncos on Week 2 with a foot injury, has recovered and should be available Sunday.
--- T Kyle Turley missed a second straight day of workouts Thursday while experiencing soreness in his back, a condition that kept him out of football for nearly two years before joining Kansas City this season. Turley, the Chiefs' starting left tackle, was downgraded from probable to questionable and likely won't play against San Francisco on Sunday if he doesn't practice Friday.
--- T Jordan Black will get the start at left tackle against San Francisco should Kyle Turley not be available because of his sore back. Black started six games at left tackle last year when Willie Roaf was down, and pass protection was a key issue when he played the position.
--- TE Jason Dunn should see plenty of action against San Francisco as the Chiefs will use two- and sometimes three tight ends sets to provide better pass protection with Kyle Turley hurting at left tackle. The Chiefs offense likely will be more limited with multiple tight ends, but it's the best alternative to providing pass protection for Huard.


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