RT John Tait looks like he won't play at right tackle against Cincinnati this week because of a sprained ankle he received against Cleveland. It will be the first time in 1 1/2 years, 25 games, that the Chiefs have opened a game without an offensive line of Willie Roaf, Brian Water, Casey Wiegmann, Will Shields and Tait.
RT Marcus Spears, who started 16 games at either right tackle (11 starts) or left guard (5) for the Chiefs in 2001, will likely play for injured starter John Tait against Cincinnati. "I feel secure with him there; we've won some games with him at right tackle," Vermeil said of Spears. "He's blocked some good defensive ends in that time. He's only had the one year of being a starter, and that's always bothered him, but when he prepares properly like he has for the past month or so, he has the skills to start and keep us winning."
Tony Richardson, who played earlier this season with a soft cast on his broken left thumb, will play against Cincinnati with a similar cast in place after breaking several bones in his hand against Cleveland. He may be limited to blocking duties -- his main assignment anyway -- as opposed to infrequent rushing or receiving opportunities.
KR/WR Dante Hall did not practice Wednesday while recovering from a badly bruised clavicle. But Hall is expected to practice either Thursday or Friday and should be available for the Bengals game.
LB Mike Maslowski, listed as questionable with an ankle injury, took a full practice turn Wednesday.
WR Johnnie Morton, listed as questionable with a groin injury, took a full practice turn Wednesday and was moving without any visible sign of injury.
CHIEFS GAME PLAN:
Jumping on the Bengals early in their home park is essential. The Chiefs have won 10 straight games when leading at halftime. The Bengals are 1-13 over their last 14 games when trailing at halftime. To get an edge and remove Cincy's belief that an upset is possible, the Chiefs better dance with who brought 'em this far -- an effective running game that sets up the play-action passing game, or vice versa.
Defensively, the Chiefs have a history with Jon Kitna. He was 2-0 against the Chiefs as Seattle's starter when throwing more TDs than interceptions. He was 0-2 when KC got more picks than gave up TDs. The Chiefs can let Rudi Johnson get going and excite the home crowd like he did a year ago, and they've got to keep Chad Johnson from making good on his guarantee.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
Bengals WR Chad Johnson and Peter Warrick vs. Chiefs CBs Dexter McCleon and Eric Warfield. The Chiefs lead the league in interceptions with 19 (McCleon 5, Warfield 4). Johnson leads the AFC in receiving yards. The Chiefs need to pressure Kitna, probably with their linebacker or safety blitz package, to help their corners here.
Bengals rush defense vs. Chiefs run offense. Bengals, like the Chiefs, have given up too many rushing yards this year. If the Bengals can keep Holmes in check with seven, they'll better be able to defend a rapidly improving KC passing attack. If they need an eighth defender in the box, Trent Green will exploit man-to-man matchups on his wideouts or TE Tony Gonzalez.
RT John Tait (doubtful, ankle) doesn't look like he'll play, but veteran backup Marcus Spears is a capable replacement who started 11 games at the position in 2001. FB Tony Richardson (questionable, hand) will play with a soft cast covering the broken bones in his left hand. He can still block (his forte), but likely won't be any factor in short-yardage rushing or receiving. LB Mike Maslowski (questionable, ankle) continues to gut it out on a sore ankle and sore knee. WR Johnnie Morton (questionable, groin) ran Wednesday without any apparent limitations. KR/WR Dante Hall (probable, clavicle) missed Wednesday's practice, but is expected to play.