Horn Impressive

Wide Receiver Chris Horn turned some heads on Saturday with his three catch performance and his 76 yards receiving against the Vikings.

BATTLE OF THE WEEK: No. 5 receiver. First-year pro Chris Horn, a former Arena Leaguer, made a case for himself to win the fifth receiver position with a solid performance Saturday night. Horn is battling with Marvin "Snoop" Minnis to win the job and helped himself by catching three passes for 76 yards, including a 35 yarder.

The 5-foot-11, 185-pound Horn is quick and has shown good hands throughout camp. The Chiefs like him because he can play multiple special teams units and would give them roster flexibility. Remember, he also had to play linebacker in the two-platoon system of the Arena League. However, Minnis, who led the team's wide receivers as a rookie in 2001, has also turned in a solid camp.

The potential problem for Minnis is that the fifth receiver is typically inactive unless he is a special teams player and Minnis is not prominent on any special teams units. Minnis will have to show that he can make the team purely as a receiver. Doing that will require him to beat out Horn as well as Curtis Jackson. Undrafted rookie free agent LaShaun Ward figures to be a solid practice squad candidate.

OTHER BATTLE FRONTS: Is it a sign of things to come that starting right cornerback William Bartee was replaced for a couple of series' by free-agent signee Dexter McCleon against Minnesota?

Bartee, who was beaten badly for a touchdown by San Francisco rookie Brandon Lloyd last week, is being watched closely by Vermeil. McCleon, who played for Vermeil in St. Louis, was brought in to push Bartee and left Eric Warfield.

Warfield broke up a deep pass to Randy Moss in the end zone Saturday night and has had a solid preseason. However, Vermeil has made it clear that nobody's job is safe.

"He'll either make them better or replace them," Vermeil said of McCleon. "Competition is good for everybody."

The team also received its first look at rookie third round pick Julian Battle. Battle, who played safety and cornerback at Tennessee, is in the running for the fourth cornerback position along with Corey Harris.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Ryan Sims. Sims lived in Minnesota's backfield Saturday night and dominated the line of scrimmage despite not recording a tackle.

Sims, the team's first round pick out of North Carolina in 2002, showed quickness in beating Vikings center Matt Birk and guard Chris Liwienski into the gaps and flushed Culpepper from the pocket on several occasions.

On one play, Sims shot through the line forcing Culpepper to his left. Randy Moss was breaking free deep downfield but Culpepper was unable to turn his body and make the throw because Sims was in hot pursuit.

It's the kind of play the Chiefs want to see out of Sims.

"You can just see how focused he is on having a big year," said Chiefs defensive end Vonnie Holliday. "He's starting to show why he was such a high pick."

Sims, Holliday, McCleon and Shawn Barber are major parts of what is a much faster defense than the 32nd-ranked unit that coughed up yards and points in 2002.

"Whether I make the play or not, all that matters is that we get after the offense" Sims said. "We're trying to make plays and get after the quarterback and that's only going to help our secondary out. It all works together."

ROOKIE REPORT: Sixth-round pick Jimmy Wilkerson, who is backing up Eric Hicks at left defensive end, recorded a sack against the Vikings and continued to show why the team is so pleased with his rapid ascension.

First-round pick Larry Johnson turned heads with his longest run of the preseason, a 13-yarder in which he was stopped behind the line of scrimmage, made a move and then darted into a hole before being taken down. Johnson continues to mix such flashes of excellence with plays in which he looks hesitant and sloppy. That inconsistency combined with the need for Chiefs' backs to fully understand pass protection has kept him in a battle for the backup

Second-round pick Kawika Mitchell saw his first action of the preseason after missing more than two weeks with a hamstring injury. He scored well in applying pressure on Minnesota QB Daunte Culpepper on his first play. Right now, though, he's running behind special teams standout Monty Beisel in his bid to become Mike Maslowski's backup at MLB, though when he gets on the field full time he's expected to move up rapidly

Third-round pick Julian Battle saw his most extensive time against Minnesota after battling sore obliques for two weeks. The Vikings picked on him pretty good, but he gave up no big plays. He'll make the team and appears to be the strongest candidate for the No. 4 CB spot.

INJURY REPORT: The Chiefs post-game injury report after Minnesota listed offensive tackle Willie Roaf (wrist contusion), linebacker Mike Maslowksi (elbow contusion) and linebacker Larry Atkins (calf strain). None of those injuries appears serious.

Starting fullback Tony Richardson (hand), No. 3 quarterback Jonathan Quinn (back), defensive end Gary Stills (ankle) and offensive guard Victor Allotey (back) did not play Saturday night. Richardson has practiced in a limited fashion and will see his load increase as the regular season approaches.


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