The offensively-potent Chiefs, who set the NFL record for first downs last year (398), go into 2005 with nine of 11 returning starters. It will be, in essence, the same group that has finished among the league's top five teams in total offense every year since Dick Vermeil's 2001 arrival in Kansas City.
It also will be a group with five players who either are or will turn 32 during the '05 campaign. Of that group, four Pro Bowl-level players -- quarterback Trent Green, left tackle Willie Roaf, right guard Will Shields and fullback Tony Richardson -- will be 34 or better.
Kansas City's only youth movement in '05 is reflected in the two potential new starters.
>BR>Samie Parker, a wide receiver limited by nagging injuries through much of his 2004 rookie campaign, will go into training camp as the heir apparent to departed flanker Johnnie Morton. Parker, who caught only nine balls in the four games he played late in the '04 campaign, has yet to show that he can stand up through an entire 16-game season.
If Parker goes down or isn't up to the challenge of being a starter, newcomer Freddie Mitchell may get his long-awaited chance to either become a starter or at least a more regular contributor. Mitchell will compete with Dante Hall and Marc Boerigter for the third receiver spot. The Chiefs would like to limit Hall's participation in the offense this season and hope that somebody can step up so he can concentrate on the return game.
The right tackle spot also will be manned by a youngster.
The Chiefs have given up -- for now -- on last year's attempt to move former Philadelphia guard John Welbourn to right tackle. After missing six games last year with a knee problem, Welbourn spent the spring working at guard, a spot where the Chiefs have two Pro Bowlers in Shields and Brian Waters.
Jordan Black, a second-year player last year, played adequately at right tackle after Welbourn's loss. Either he or second-year player Kevin Sampson will man the position at the start of training camp. The Chiefs think either can do the job, but if they can't, Welbourn remains available as an established bailout.
With the signing of veteran cornerback Ashley Ambrose to a one-year contract, the Chiefs' interest in unsigned corner Ty Law likely will be moved even further back on the stove. That doesn't mean, however, that they don't still have a simmering interest. The Chiefs remain in regular touch with Law's agents, the Poston brothers, in inquiring about Law's recovery from the foot injury that ended his '04 campaign and his career with the Patriots.
They were even more interested back in March when they visited with Law and actually talked money. But Law wasn't even running then, so the Chiefs, like all other NFL teams, weren't ready to actually offer a contract until they saw how Law's recovery would progress.
Law told Sports Illustrated recently that Kansas City had talked about an incentive-laden contract with a prospective total value of $42 million.
"But it was structured so bad that I'd probably only make $10 million before they'd cut me, so I didn't take it," Law told the magazine. The Chiefs dispute the offer and claim the offer was hatched by his agents the Poston Brothers.
The Chiefs have since signed younger, healthier corner Patrick Surtain to a big-bucks deal. Consequently, they simply don't have the kind of cap money available that Law is seeking now that he's running again and saying he'll be fully ready by the start of training camp.
If, however, training camp beckons and Law is still without a job and he's looking for a one-year situation in which he can prove to the rest of the league that he can still be one of the game's premier corners, the Chiefs want his representatives to know that they're still in the game, even if not a big-money player.
The Chiefs addressed their cornerback depth concern on July 1 by signing veteran free-agent cornerback Ashley Ambrose to a one-year deal for what is believed to be near the NFL veteran minimum.
Ambrose, 34, played the last two seasons in New Orleans, his fourth NFL team in 13 seasons.
A second-round pick (29th overall) of the Indianapolis Colts in 1992, Ambrose had his best season in 1996, his first year in Cincinnati, when he was named a Pro Bowl starter after intercepting a career-high eight passes. The NFL Players Association named him the AFC Defensive Back of the Year that season.
Ambrose has played in 192 career games with 141 starts through four years in Indianapolis, three in Cincinnati, three in Atlanta and three in his native New Orleans. He saw limited action in nine games with New Orleans last year, but still had three picks -- part of his 42 career total. It was the first time since 1996 that he was not a full-time starter.
Ambrose was a member of the 1995 Indianapolis team that upset the 13-3 Chiefs in a playoff game in Kansas City when the Chiefs had the home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
The Chiefs went looking for veteran help at corner after losing youngster Julian Battle for the season with a torn Achilles tendon during a spring workout. Battle had been working in Eric Warfield's starting spot to prepare for the likelihood that Warfield will be suspended after his third DUI incident in a three-year period.
Chiefs Report: Offense Remains a Question for KC
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