Next week will be bring the end of the road to some players trying to make the Chiefs NFL roster. Kansas City has 91 players on its roster and the team must trim down to 76 players on Tuesday. This week in practice 11 of them misseed parcitce with injuries. One of them was wide receiver Johnny Morton, who is recovering from an Achilles injury will not play.
It remains a strong possibility despite the cap implications that Morton could be cut as the Chiefs may opt to offer him an injury settlement. With the surprise addition of undrafted rookie Richard Smith and draftee Samie Parker, the Chiefs have options. Marc Boerigter is looking to back up his strong performance against the Rams with another solid game tonight against the Cleveland Browns. Still this game will make the end for 17 players who have been vying to make the roster.
"It's too early for guys to assume and it's not too late for a guy to go from on the bubble to making it." Head coach Dick Vermeil said on KC Chiefs.com "I've seen it happen. I've seen guys assume they're going to make it and didn't make it. There's more competition than we've ever had since I've been here, more competition than I've had since I came back in '97 to the National Football League."
Today's game will also be the most the starters play during the regular season; they should play into the third quarter. The Chiefs coaching staff will rotate first and second team to get everybody playing time.
The game will also feature one of the greatest tight ends ever to play the game of football Tony Gonzalez and the up and comer Kellen Winslow II. The Chiefs will also show case their rookie tight end Kris Wilson who has been impressive thus far for the Chiefs.
Vermeil this week has seen another rookie that will be playing a lot tonight, defensive linemen Jared Allen. He was a big part of the Kansas City's defensive pressure on Monday night against the St. Louis Rams.
"He's competing to start, not just for a roster spot," Vermeil said this week on the Topeka Capital Journal. "I see in him the same thing I saw in Grant Wistrom. He's got a passion to play football, and when a guy has that before you ever get him in your program you're one step up."
This could very well be the Chiefs best rookie class ever to grace the team. Wilson, Parker, Smith, and Allen are all fighting starting time, and on opening day against the Broncos two of them could line up as starters.
"I know I can't just run through people anymore," Allen said to the Topeka Capital Journal. "But I've got some great teachers in (fellow ends) Eric Hicks and Vonnie, and when you work against (Pro Bowl tackle) Willie Roaf every day, you get better even when you get beat."
The Chiefs must cut their roster to 76 players by Tuesday, and then cut the remaining players by next Sunday after the Dallas Cowboys game. The rookies and veterans will have tonight and Sept. 2 to prove they can hang with the big boys of the NFL.
In other Chiefs News:
Despite the addition of free agent quarterback Jeff Garcia, the Browns feature a trio of running backs that have shared the rock thus far in the pre-season. William Green, James Jackson and Lee Suggs have carried the load on offense. Garcia has yet to establish any offensive consistency through the air and tonight it should be interesting to watch how well he does with the Chiefs improved pass rush. Unlike last week, when the Chiefs defense faced an immobile quarterback in the Rams Marc Bulger, Garcia can get out of the pocket and run.
With so much talk of about wide receiver Richard Smith from Arkansas, the Chiefs have another possible gem at cornerback. Benny Sapp, another undrafted rookie, has played very well for the Chiefs and could be the teams nickel back especially if Julian Battle does not make strides toward understanding Gunther Cunningham's defense. Sapp the cousin of Warren Sapp, now with the Oakland Raiders, does not have the size that Cunningham prefers but he's a player and he has great instincts. Watching him play, he reminds me of a raw Kevin Ross.
This will be a big game for the Chiefs defense. Coming off their impressive performance against the Rams on Monday Night; fans, players and coaches are all eager to see if they can improvement in this game. Tonight's game will be the starting debut for Monty Beisel. He's taking the place of the injured Kawika Mitchell who took over for Mike Maslowski.
Tonight's game will mark the last time the Chiefs will play at Arrowhead until they play their 2004 home opener against the Carolina Panthers on September 19th.