The Chiefs will travel to St. Louis tonight to face the Rams in the final exhibition game of the 2003 season. Head Coach Dick Vermeil has already announced that Priest Holmes will not play nor Tony Gonzalez and that Trent Green will only play one or two series.
Tony Gonzalez has a slightly torn MCL in his knee and there is no word yet from the Chiefs if Gonzalez will be ready for the home opener on the 7th of September.
Holmes will not even warm up before the game as Vermeil and the Chiefs brass are convinced that Holmes is ready and he's set to start on opening day. Holmes did indicate that the status of his new contract would not prevent him from playing against the Chargers.
Holmes indicated that as long as the negotiations were progressing and he felt comfortable a deal would get done, that he'd play without the contract extensions that he's been seeking all off season.
Green looked sharp the last two exhibition games and the Chiefs don't want to take any chances with him. The Chiefs are hopeful that Jonathan Quinn will get some playing time but he's been recovering from a sore back.
The Chiefs stand 2-2 in the exhibition season and tonights game is primarily to evaluate a few back-up positions. The Chiefs have to decide how many wide receivers they are going to carry as well as linebackers, fullbacks and tight ends.
Wide receivers Joe Horn and Snoop Minnis are vying for the fifth wide spot on the roster. The Chiefs are contemplating carrying six at the position but if push comes to shove, Minnis is a better wide receiver who can start. But the Chiefs like Horn who has been stellar in camp and in the exhibition games.
The Chiefs need to decide what to do about their back-up linebacker position. The team cut Larry Atkins on Tuesday and Quinton Caver, the former Philadelphia Eagles is in a tangle with Tony Newson and Fred Jones for one of the two back-up positions.
The Chiefs will have to make a final decision on fullback, Joe Hall. Hall has been slightly injured in camp but should get some significant playing time against the Rams. The Chiefs are fearful if he does not make the final roster that another team will claim him. There is no way the team will cut Omar Easy but the Chiefs really like Hall. If he has a huge game, then he could make the team.
On defense the Chiefs cornerbacks should get a test from the high powered Rams offense. The Chiefs need to get some steady play from Dexter McCleon, Eric Warfield and William Bartee. Rookie Julian Battle should get some work. He's vying to be the fourth cornerback ahead of Corey Harris.
For the Rams, they won't play many of their starters either. Kurt Warner has had an excellent camp and played well in the exhibition season. The Rams appear to be in a groove offensively but their defense, especially their secondary is in shambles. Injuries and poor play has Rams head coach Mike Martz concerned. Chiefs back-up Todd Collins should exploit the St. Louis corners often.
Collins has been the most impressive Chiefs player in the exhibition season. He has moved the team up and down the field and ran the two-minute offense to perfection last weekend against the Seahawks.
But the primary goal tonight is to get in and out of St. Louis without any injuries. The Chiefs don't need any of their starters to get injured so don't expect many of them to play more than a series or two. The Chiefs will be trimming their roster down to 53 players on Sunday and tonights game will be the last for at least 21 players.