Johnson Could Be One Player on the Bubble

Sometime later today the Kansas City Chiefs will notify fifteen players that they won't be a part of the teams plan for 2004. Who gets cut and who stays is currently being deliberated by the Chiefs this morning. Their may be some surprises today but one thing is certain this is an uneasy time for the players on the bubble. Here's a look at our projected cuts.

1. (G) Tim Stuber - The Chiefs are looking for debth at Gurad but with Chris Bober versatile enough to play both guard and center positions, Stuber appears to be the odd man out. That means local feel-good story Ryan Lilja has made the team. The former Kansas State Wildcat has come out of nowhere and in the opinion of some in the NFL, could be a solid starter now.

2. (T) Thomas Bennett - With the emergence of seventh round draft pick Kevin Sampson, Bennett's chances appear slim to none to make the final roster. Last year the Chiefs drafted two tackles, Bret Williams and Jordan Black. Both have had their moments but Black appears to have moved ahead of Williams for playing time. Sampson played well early in camp but struggled in the game against the Cowboys.

3. (TE) Aaron Golliday - Right now is the teams third tight end by default. With the injury to Kris Wilson, the Chiefs have no other tight end option besides Tony Gonzalez and Jason Dunn. The Chiefs have carried two tight ends in the past and they might do so again this year and hope that Wilson can come back in the second half of the season. This could be a situation where Kansas City looks at the waiver wire for a solid third tight end.

4. (NT) Eddie Freeman - He has been injured virtually entire NFL career with the Chiefs and this season is no different. Freeman's most significant contribution to the team was his fight with former Chiefs tackle John Tait in training camp a year ago. Freemen is likely headed to the injured reserves list but he could be cut outright. The Chiefs have solid depth along the defensive line and Freeman just can't get on the field long enough to prove he is worthy of keeping on the roster.

5. (NT) Montique Sharpe - A surprise performer last year at nose tackle Sharpe is defiantly on the bubble. He played well last year and has showed some signs of maturing on the field during training camp. But with the addition of Lional Dalton and draftee Junior Siavii, Sharpe appears to be out.

6. (LB) Mike Maslowski - It's very obvious that the Chiefs are a better defense with Maslowksi in the middle of their defense but with his setbacks after knee surgery last January, the Chiefs are faced with putting him on injured reserve or agree to an injury settlement. Either way its virtually certain that Maslowski will not be a Chief much longer.

7. (LB) Fred Jones - A solid special teams performer could find his way outside looking in today after the cuts are announced. Jones has had an up and down career with the Chiefs but he's in a roster spot battle with Quinton Caver. Based on special teams ability and experience as a back-up linebacker Caver should get the nod over Jones despite the injuries to Maslowski and Kawika Mitchell. The Chiefs also have been pleasantly surprised with third round pick Keyaron Fox and his play should relieve any stress over cutting Jones. Fox is a tackling machine and he needs to play now.

8. (CB) Cliff Crosby - With back-up cornerback Julian Battle struggling on defense, the Chiefs need another cornerback and Crosby is fighting for the last corner spot with unrestricted free agent Benny Sapp. The younger cousin of Warren Sapp, Benny has played well for the most part. He struggled some in the Cowboys game but he has solid closing speed and Crosby seems to still be feeling his way around the position.

9. (SS) Lyle West - Another secondary battle between the incumbent West ad undrafted free agent Scott Connott. West has played parts of the last two seasons with the Chiefs but he does not have the nose for the football or the feel of the game like Connott. Though a rookie Connott has been impressive and can be a solid back-up along with Shaunard Harts to fill the void if Greg Wesley needs a breather. That means West could be heading out of town.

10 & 11. (FS) Willie Pile & Clint Finley - Neither has looked good all camp and it would appear that both could get a visit from ‘The Turk' on Sunday. That means that the aforementioned Wesley and Connott will have to be a back-up for Jerome Woods.

12. (NT) Eric Downing - Despite being injury free for the first time in his career with the Chiefs, Downing appears to be on the outside looking for a roster spot. With Siavii, Ryan Sims, Jimmy Wilkerson and John Browning ahead of him at this point, Downing no longer fits the Chiefs plans. Until now the cuts projected have been relatively simple but the last three as is on any roster can be the deepest and hardest but a necessary evil on cut down day. So here are my painful three that could cause Chiefs fans to stir.

13. (DS) Kendall Gammons - By far the best deep snapper in NFL history and quite likely a cut the Chiefs don't want to make. With the release of Punter Jason Baker and veteran kicker Morten Andersen already announced, Gammons has been battling with rookie defensive end Jared Allen. Gammons understands that this is a business and has been operating on one-year contracts his entire career but there is little doubt that Allen can do the job and he simply needs more experience. This won't be a move defined by the money that Gammons makes but instead by the fact that Allen can play two spots. But in a pinch Gammons can play tight end as he did at times in training camp. He has solid hands.

14. (RB) Larry Johnson - It became apparent that all the progress that Johnson made from the beginning to training camp through the Cowboys game last Thursday; appears all but gone. Derrick Blaylock, though not the same runner as Johnson, appears locked and firm at being the back-up to Priest Holmes. Though I strongly believe that Johnson can be a solid running back in the NFL, the Chiefs might not have room for Johnson this season. That means the Chiefs could release him or trade him sometime today.

15. (DE) Jimmy Wilkerson - This is by far the toughest cut for the Chiefs. Wilkerson has proven that he can play in the NFL but Kansas City needs a pass rusher and R-Kal Truluck and the emergence of Jared Allen, could put the former Oklahoma standout as the odd man out. But the Chiefs have to way another factor and that is the potential of Wilkerson. It's no secret that the Chiefs have not been enamored with the play of veteran defensive end Vonnie Holliday so he could be the man released and Wilkerson could survive.

In all we shall soon see which players the Chiefs cut to get down to the league limit of 53 players. Some of the players cut today and earlier in the week, will end up on the Chiefs practice squad.

Stay tuned to Warpaint Illustrated for the latest on the Chiefs cuts.


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