Inside Skinny: Woods Will Be Ready for Mr. Smith

Jerome Woods has heard that the date of birth on Jimmy Smith's driver's license shows the Jacksonville receiver to be 35 years of age this season.

Woods isn't sure he believes it.

"Jimmy Smith, to watch him running on film, he looks like he's about 23," said Woods, the Kansas City free safety who will provide the over-the-top help the Chiefs will need in trying to contain Smith when the Chiefs and Jaguars meet Sunday in Alltel Stadium. "He's running by a lot of good corners, including one game against (Denver's) Champ Bailey.

"It's going to be a test for us in the secondary. Hopefully, we can pass the test."

Smith has had his share of big games against the Chiefs, who this year bring the league's eighth-ranked pass defense into the game.

In four previous games against Kansas City, three of them Jaguar victories, Smith has caught 18 passes for 303 yards with two touchdowns. In 1997, against a Gunther Cunningham-coached defense that was one of the NFL's best in a 13-3 season, Smith caught four balls for 112 yards with a 75-yard touchdown in a 24-10 KC loss in Jacksonville. He was 5-83 with a 37-yard touchdown in 2002 when the Jags won at Arrowhead 23-16.

The Chiefs aren't real eager to be defending Smith all day should young quarterback Byron Leftwich throw 54 passes like he did last week in a loss in San Diego.

At the same time, however, they knew that Leftwich had to throw that much only because the Chargers put the Jags down 21-0 early and Jacksonville had to throw its run-pass game plan out the window. That's also what the Chiefs need to do if they hope to pull out a second straight road victory over a tough opponent.

"If he has to throw that much, that means we've shut down their running game, which is pretty much what we hope to do," said cornerback Eric Warfield, who is tied for the NFL lead in interceptions with three. "Fred Taylor is a great running back, and if you can shut him down and place the game in Leftwich's hands, that's better than having to deal with them when they're running and throwing the ball."

Even if that means that Warfield spends the day chasing after Smith, a prospect he doesn't relish.

"I really believe he looks faster this year," Warfield said, echoing Woods' thoughts. "Last year wasn't a very good one for his team (5-11) or him personally. (Smith had only 54 catches, his lowest total since his rookie season.) I don't know if that was because of the loss of Keenan (McCardell) or his legal problems (a four-game league suspension), but this year, honestly, it looks like he's faster and quicker.

"He's still a playmaker."

To have a chance against the 3-2 Jags, the 1-3 Chiefs have to do many of the same things they did in winning their first game in Baltimore. Run effectively, control the clock, stop the opposing run -- all things easier said than done. But at least the Chiefs understand the challenge facing them in Florida, a state in which they've won one game since 1993.

"We've got to go out and play smart, don't give up big penalties or big plays and ride the momentum of what we started in Baltimore on down to Jacksonville," Woods said.

Fifth meeting. Jaguars lead 3-1. KC won only game in the series 30-26 in 2001, but Jacksonville avenged that loss with a 23-16 victory at Arrowhead the next year. Three of the four meetings have been at Alltel Stadium.

Prior to winning in Jacksonville in 2001 (30-26), Kansas City had lost 11 straight games (preseason and regular season) played in the state of Florida. The last victory came in 1993 on Joe Montana's debut with the Chiefs in the season opener at Tampa Bay.

The Florida frustration factor was so keen, especially in the minds of KC's oldest player who experienced it, that long-time safety Jerome Woods had to be reminded that the streak was over.

"Our track record whenever we go to Florida seems like we always come back with a loss," Woods said. "We can't think about that anymore."

Reminded that the Chiefs won at Alltel in 2001, Woods' outlook brightened some.

"I forgot about that," he said. "I guess I was still remembering how they came up here and won (in 2002)."

Jacksonville coach Jack Del Rio, on coaching his first game against the Chiefs, a team he played for in 1987-88: "I played for so many teams (four) it's hard to keep track of all of them. I can't get sentimental about coaching against every team I played for."

Del Rio's short Chiefs career was forgettable except for one incident he would just as soon forget.

It happened during the 1987 strike season. Del Rio, a starting outside linebacker that season, was walking the picket line at Arrowhead Stadium when he became involved in a verbal confrontation with a member of the Chiefs' scouting department who was escorting a replacement player into the stadium. Del Rio and the scout tussled and ended up wrestling on the ground in a widely reported incident.

Turns out the scout was Otis Taylor, the most revered wide receiver in Chiefs history.

Priest Holmes distributed white T-shirts with a "Keep the Faith" message to all his teammates after Wednesday's practice. Included with each shirt was a letter from Holmes reminding his teammates to keep believing that their preseason goals of reaching the playoffs remained alive.

Chiefs guard Brian Waters, on Jacksonville's talented defensive tackles Marcus Stroud and John Henderson: "These guys are behemoths, man. You see these 6-6, 6-7 guys weighing 325 pounds and moving as quick as they do, you wonder what the NFL is coming to. A little guy like myself (6-3, 318) doesn't have a chance!"

Here's where Waters is sandbagging. In the Chiefs' last game on Monday night against Baltimore, NFL Films captured Waters pancaking miked LB Ray Lewis, who was speechless for once after getting knocked on his back in a one-on-one effort.

"We've just got to hope," Waters said, "that some of the things we did last week can continue this week."

The average number of rushing yards given up by the Chiefs defense in its first two games. 78 -- The average number of rushing yards given up by the Chiefs in the last two games.

"Before the season we're (talked about as) a Super Bowl team, then we lose three and we're the most disappointing team in the NFL. Now we win one game and we're back in the playoff race? Man, that's a roller coaster ride we can't get on. At 1-3 you ain't that much better than 0-3. It was good to get that first win, but we're still looking down the barrel." -- Chiefs guard Brian Waters, on the perceived turnaround in Chiefs fortunes following a 27-24 Monday night win in Baltimore before the bye week. Top Stories