KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:15 ET
TV: CBS, Jim Nantz, Phil Simms
SERIES: The Chiefs hold a 51-41 (.554) all-time advantage, although the Broncos have won the last five meetings in Denver, including a 30-10 win at Invesco Field last season.
2006 RANKINGS: Chiefs: offense 18th (11th rush, 16th pass); defense 5th (23rd rush, 6th pass). Broncos: offense 24th (5th rush, 31st pass); defense 20th (24th rush, 18th pass)
KEYS TO THE GAME: Don't expect a four-hour game with both offenses looking
to run the ball significantly. The Chiefs will come out pounding away with
RB Larry Johnson to help QB Damon Huard get into the flow in his first start
in place of injured Trent Green. But Johnson could find the plowing tough
since Denver is confident CBs Champ Bailey and Darrent Williams can handle
Kansas City's receivers -- freeing a safety to help in run support.
The Broncos' offense struggled in the passing game last weekend, but Denver has always run the ball effectively against the Chiefs. Look for the Broncos to feature RB Tatum Bell early, provided he can protect the ball. He upset coach Mike Shanahan with a fumble in St. Louis, but fellow RB Mike Bell could be limited by a fractured tip in a finger.
FAST FACTS: Home team has won 10 of the past 11 meetings. Chiefs: Huard is 5-1 in his career as a starter, but his last start came in 2000. ... TE Tony Gonzalez needs one touchdown pass to break Otis Taylor's (57) franchise record. Broncos: Have a 10-game home winning streak, tied for best in the NFL with Seattle. ... QB Jake Plummer is 3-0 with Denver at home against Kansas City.
--WR Rod Gardner continues to work with the Chiefs after signing a two-year deal Wednesday, but coach Herm Edwards said this week that he doubted Gardner would be ready to play this week in Denver.
--WR Chris Hannon, an undrafted rookie who was one of the surprises on the final 53-man roster, will likely be waived and asked to return to the practice squad as the Chiefs open a roster spot for newly acquired Rod Gardner.
--T Kevin Sampson continued to work Thursday despite missing last week's season-opening game with Cincinnati with a hamstring problem. Coach Herm Edwards said he expects Sampson to be ready for this week's game in Denver.
--K Jason Elam was added to the injury report with a left hip injury. Elam was listed as probable and will likely play against Kansas City.
--DT Demetrin Veal was added to the injury report Thursday. He is probable with a calf injury and should play. Veal is an effective interior pass rusher and a big part of Denver's defensive line rotation.
--WR Brandon Marshall has practiced all week. He did not play last week after sitting out most of the preseason with a knee injury, because the Broncos were concerned about his conditioning. Marshall has a chance to make his NFL debut this week.
--FB Cecil Sapp is behind Kyle Johnson on the depth chart, and didn't play against the Rams. Sapp held the starting spot all offseason but injuries in training camp gave Johnson a window of opportunity to take back the job.
--TE Chad Mustard saw some action on special teams and could be a factor in Denver's running game this season. Mustard is a massive tight end who could be like a third tackle in the running game.
INSIDE THE CAMPS:
Leaving more questions unanswered than addressed, Willie Roaf made his retirement official Thursday. The 14-year left tackle, a player voted to the all-decade team of the 1990s, read a three-page retirement announcement, then left without answering questions about precisely when he told the Chiefs of his plans. His unanticipated retirement left the Chiefs with a gaping hole at both left and right tackle. Quarterback Trent Green had to scramble several times in the season opener against Cincinnati and sustained a severe concussion at the end of one of those runs.
Roaf, who told the team last winter that he intended to play in 2006,
said it became obvious to him during organized training activities in May
that his body would not be up to the challenge. But the Chiefs went into
training camp hoping that he might change his mind. It was only on Wednesday
that they changed his official status from reserve/did not report to
"It's been difficult for me to accept that my body could no longer do the things I once took for granted," said Roaf, who missed all of six games and most of a seventh last year with a hamstring injury.
"As a young player, my body would heal much faster. After a Sunday game I would feel good by Monday. But last year my body never felt good, and the hamstring injury affected that. For the first time in my career, I really believed that my talents had declined and I was unable to play at an acceptable level.
"During the off-season I began to feel better and truly believed that I could play one more year. But during OTAs in May, I knew my body would not allow me to play at a level that was acceptable to me.
"I now accept the fact that I cannot play football again. I'm sorry that I did not address this earlier, but my main focus has been coming to grips with that fact. It was very painful but I now accept it."
A No. 1 draft pick of the Saints in 1993, Roaf thanked the late Jim Finks and former Saints president Bill Kuharich "for taking a chance on a funny-walking kid from Louisiana Tech." He thanked the Chiefs for taking a chance on a player coming off major knee surgery when they acquired him in a 2002 trade. Roaf said he will forever be proud of playing on the first Saints team to win a playoff game (in 2000), and for being part of a Chiefs offense that led the league in total yards in both 2004 and '05.
The Denver Broncos aren't quite sure what is wrong with defensive end Courtney Brown's knee or when he'll be back. Brown had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in early August and was expected to be back for Denver's first regular-season game. Brown practiced last week but was held out of Sunday's game against St. Louis, mainly because it was on artificial turf.
But this week, Brown's knee didn't feel any better and the Broncos
downgraded him from questionable to probable.
"He hasn't made strides like we were hoping," Shanahan said. Brown has dealt with plenty of injuries during his career, but had a relatively healthy year last season in Denver. The Broncos re-worked his contract in the off-season because they were pleased with how he played. But this year Brown is injured again. Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said the team will re-evaluate Brown on a week-to-week basis.
"We'll keep our fingers crossed and hopefully at some time this season he comes back and he's ready to go," Shanahan said. Kenard Lang will take Brown's spot in the starting lineup while he is out. Brown didn't have any idea when he'd be ready to return.
"I'm just taking it one day at a time and trying to get better," Brown said. "I don't have a whole lot of answers."
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