Chiefs Visit Seattle in Hopes of Finding Depth

Dick Vermeil mentioned all last week that all games are important. But this weeks exibition game against the Seattle Seahawks is significant for some Chiefs who are awaiting the Turk on Tuesday in the NFL's first mandatory roster cuts.

Seriously jobs will be on the line for back-ups as the Chiefs look to find answers on the in the secondary and fifth wide receiver slot. This might be a big game for cornerback William Bartee who is fighting off Dexter McCleon for a starting spot. The word starter means very little since, both Bartee and McCleon will be on the field most of the time as opposing teams generally have three wide receivers in the game for most offensive sets.

But Bartee has continued to struggle in the exhibition season and though McCleon has not looked much better, the Chiefs are hoping one of them takes charge. Both of them, along with the Chief other starting cornerback, Eric Warfield can thank the defensive line for not making them look all that bad.

Vonnie Holliday, Ryan Sims and Eric Hicks have been impressive in getting penetration on the quarterback and that has masked some of the short comings for the cornerbacks.

The Seahawks offer some imposing challenges for the secondary this week. Koren Robinson and Darrell Jackson are capable receivers who lit the Chiefs secondary up last year during the regular season.

Seattle Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck had his best day as a professional last year against the Chiefs. But the Chiefs pose a better defensive line and faster linebackers so that success is not likely to be repeated this weekend.

But on defense there are other concerns about Mike Maslowski and his effectiveness thus far. Rookie Kawika Mitchell is gaining ground and was impressive in his debut last week against the Minnesota Vikings. Maslowski is the slowest of linebackers and the Chiefs defense is going to rely heavily on speed.

When Mitchell gets up to speed on the defense, he will see more playing time along side Shawn Barber and Scott Fujita. That speed and his nose for the ball will help the Chiefs secondary. Maslowski is a warrior but he is somewhat limited in pass coverage and has a tendency to over pursue the ball.

The Chiefs will have their hands full with Seahawks running back Shaun Alexander. He might be the NFC's leading rusher this year if Seattle can continue to develop a strong passing game. Alexander is best when he's complimenting the offense and not the primary focus of the offense. When that happens, teams gets lazy and Alexander excels.

On offense the Chiefs will be looking to get their offense in the end zone. They finally did last weekend against the Vikings while amassing over 400 yards in total offense. But they still looked a little rusty and with a short preparation week ahead, the Chiefs probably will play the starters the entire first half.

Trent Green has to find Tony Gonzalez in this game. Gonzalez has had an amazing off-season, camp and no one is more focused going into this season than the Chiefs all pro tight end. The Chiefs need to feature him this week just to give opposing teams more to worry about especially if Priest Holmes is on the opening day roster.

As for Holmes, the Chiefs are in a critical week with him. He wants to get a new contract extension, he's irritated some of his teammates and the Chiefs have yet to see the burst that he showed last year.

Though he was productive last week, he still needs to gain some significant yards against a Seahawks defense that he shredded last season for over 200 all purpose yards. He does not have to score touchdowns but I think the Chiefs and especially management would like to see one of those vintage 35-40 yard runs.

This is also a big game for some bubble players. Though his position is secure running back Larry Johnson has a good opportunity to secure the second running back slot ahead of Derrick Blaylock.

I'm not sold on Blaylock and it's likely that Johnson will get some reps with the first offensive unit this weekend. As I've stated all along, Johnson has to be affective. He has much more upside and potential than Blaylock and if Holmes does not play, because of his contract or gets injured, Blaylock and Johnson will need to carry the running back load.

The Chiefs will get a look at fullback Tony Richardson who is recovered from a broken thumb but his back-ups will be even more under the microscope. The Chiefs are not impressed with Omar Easy and his ability to be the lead blocker. He has good hands but the Chiefs are thinking of converting him to the tailback position.

This leaves one of two of the Chiefs biggest question still open for debate. What to do with fullback Joe Hall.

He has caught every ball in camp, he has made all the blocks and he holds onto the football. The Chiefs believe the practice squad is a good destination for Hall but other NFL teams have already noticed Hall and he's unlikely to clear waivers if the Chiefs release him.

With the cut down to 65 players on Tuesday, he's likely to get a reprieve until the final cut down day on Sept 1st. But the Chiefs think they have a diamond in the rough and they want to keep Hall if at all possible.

This means that the Chiefs will likely only keep five wide receivers so this week either Chris Horn or Marvin ‘Snoop' Minnis will make the team. Minnis had a one on one with Dick Vermeil this week and he knows it's a make or break game for him.

Horn was incredible last week with three catches for over 70 yards so he's marginally ahead of Minnis entering the Seahawks game. The man who might decide their fate will be back-up quarterback Todd Collins.

Collins has been lights thus far and his command of the offense is impressive. I really thought that Jonathan Quinn would be better but he's injured and is not likely to even take a snap this week.

All in all the Chiefs just want to stay healthy and they don't want a repeat of what happened last year in the exhibition season against the Seahawks. It was that game that safety Jerome Woods broke his leg and he was lost for the season.

Woods has been slow to comeback from the injury and this game will be a reminder of what can happen on any given play in the NFL. That can work either way. Woods needs a strong confident game.

If he's healthy then his safety mate, Greg Wesley, gives the Chiefs the best two safeties in the division. Wesley has been impressive and should make a run at pro bowl spot in what has become his contract year. He's a free agent after this year and the Chiefs better lock him up because he will be the top free agent safety available in free agency next year.


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