Defensively Speaking Ryan Sims Gets The Message

Questions are going to be the story of the season this year for the Kansas City Chiefs.

Will the return of Gunther Cunningham improve the defense? Can the Chiefs get over the hump in the playoffs? Will Priest Holmes stay healthy again this season? Can the rookies perform well out of the gate?

All this and much more will be answered as the season moves on.

Just a few days into camp and the Chiefs coaching staff is pleased with rookie tight end Kris Wilson. The team plans to use Wilson in three different positions, tight end, wide receiver and fullback.

"Playing a lot of positions is all I've ever known since I first started playing football," the 6-foot-2, 251-pound Wilson said to the Wichita Eagle.

With an already potent offense the rest of the AFC West and NFL will have a hard time stopping a Shannon Sharpe type player. Wilson, who has a pretty good tight end to get tutored from named Tony Gonzalez.

Wilson said, "I've been picking Tony Gonzalez's brain a lot, though. He'll be tired of me asking questions before the end of camp."

With the best record in the NFL a season ago and home field advantage through out the playoffs, the Chiefs were destined to end the year in Houston. However the Indianapolis Colts made sure that dream did not happen. Chiefs' General Manager Carl Peterson wanted to correct all defensive problems by hiring Cunningham.

The re-hiring of Cunningham has sparked something special in the team's defense this summer. Third year defensive tackle Ryan Sims is hoping that the change in coordinators will help his career.

His first two NFL seasons have not been what the Chiefs coaching staff expected from the former sixth pick in the draft. His first season was cut short due to elbow injury, as Sims had six tackles. In his second year Sims improved by tackling 16 and getting three sacks.

Another thing in the past is the rip that festered between Sims and his defensive mate Eric Hicks. Any lingering aspect of that fall out was dealt with last season and now Sims looks forward to making the defense better in 2004.

"Last year I actually was told that I was too aggressive, that I got up the field too much," Sims said to the Topeka Capitol Journal, shaking his head at the memory.

Looking ahead Sims has no doubt about the impact that Gunther Cunninghan has made on him during the off-season. "Gun's going to save my career," he said.

Last season Peterson thought the signing of three key defensive free agents, Shawn Barber, Dexter McCleon and Vonnie Holliday would help get the team into the Super Bowl instead of being the 29th best defense in the NFL.

The last two times the Chiefs had home field advantage throughout the playoffs; they were beat by the Colts. The last time the team was able to play in the Super Bowl was 1970, when they defeated the Minnesota Vikings.

One of the keys to get back to the Super Bowl is Holmes. He is just the type of running-back to get the team back. Holmes rushed for nearly 1600 yards after the season before, being cut short due to a hip injury.

Holmes admitted to the Kansas City Star, his hip still bothered him last season.

"It's funny, everybody thinks because I ran on it last year, it must be fine," Holmes says. "But running on it last year obviously made it worse. I feel it on every play. But I always said the running-back position is for warriors."

The Chiefs will leave River Falls, Wisconsin in ten days to play their first exhibition game at New York to play the Giants on Aug 13. This weekend they will scrimmage the Minnesota Vikings at their training camp facility in Mankato.

Wednesday Morning Camp Notes:
Johnnie Morton and Priest Holmes did not participate in the afternoon practice on Tuesday. Morton is suffering from a sore achilles and Holmes was resting his hip.

Wide receiver Eddie Kennison tried to catch passes on Tuesday but his wrist is still too sore. Instead he did running exercises. He's not expected to be back at full speed until next week. Same goes for Marc Boerigter who is nursing a sore shoulder.

Tight End Kris Wilson continues to shine in training camp. Wilson has yet to drop a pass thrown to him in River Falls and some of his teammates were grilling Tony Gonzalez who is limited to one practice per day about getting back on the field. Wilson has been the most impressive rookie of the 2004 draft class.

Lawrence Tynes is making a successful push on veteran Morton Andersen. Tynes was perfect in all his attempts in practice matching Andersen kick for kick.

Quote of the Day:
"I love him and I hate him." Rookie defensive tackle Junior Siavii commenting on defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham.


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