From the Stables: Say What Mr. Judge!

As a Kansas City Chiefs sports fan, it's easy for us to be critical of the team, but when other websites, newspapers or internet boards bring to light certain aspects of the team, we should get the final word. In the debut edition of From the Stables, we pick on the folks at CBS Sportsline and the Sports Exchange.

Date Line: August 15th - Sportsline.com – Clark Judge

SL - The emergence of running back Larry Johnson last season will make the Chiefs more flexible and dangerous on offense. Johnson will back up Priest Holmes but will be used more than he was in the past when Holmes was healthy. In fact, you can -- and will -- see him and Holmes in the backfield at the same time. It may be for a handful of snaps a game; it may be more. But the club has been using lineups that include both this summer.
FTS - I think Judge should at least mention that LJ will be doing spot duty for Priest this year, which will allow Priest to get the necessary rest to ensure he'll be around for the full schedule this year.

SL - No one knows how or if Freddie Mitchell can help at wide receiver. Mitchell, released this summer by Philadelphia, has a knee injury that may or may not require surgery and isn't practicing. For the moment, Mitchell is trying to avoid surgery by rehabbing the knee, but stay tuned. In the meantime, Eddie Kennison and Samie Parker are the top names at wide receiver, with Chris Horn and Marc Boerigter waiting in the wings.
FTS - What, no mention of Craphonso Thorpe? Thorpe makes this team and along with Parker is the future at WR for the Chiefs. Does Mitchell even make the roster?

SL - Rookie linebacker Derrick Johnson is the real deal. The Chiefs are delighted with their first-round draft pick and see no evidence that, as critics charged, he isn't physical or runs around blocks. "You might ask our offensive linemen," said defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham. "He looks like he wants to play live with pads half the time." Johnson, who weighs 250 pounds, has been marvelous when he's on the field and shown surprising speed for his size. "I coached Keith Bulluck at Tennessee," said Cunningham, "and (defensive end) Carlos Hall, who came over from Tennessee, told me, 'Gun, he's faster than Keith."

FTS - My how things have changed since April, when some of the national press was questioning the Chiefs pick. I think the national press is "finally" catching on that DJ was a steal at #15 and the draft line of "avoiding blockers" was just a crock. DJ will create turnovers on defense, and that's exactly what the Chiefs need.

SL - Don't look for linebacker Mike Maslowski to return soon. Nobody will concede it, but it appears that Maslowski -- sidelined with a serious knee injury since the second half of 2003 -- might have to retire. Another linebacker who is sidelined is Shawn Barber, recovering from a knee injury, and don't look for him to return before the sixth week of the season. The club has him on the physically unable to perform list. On the bright side, the Chiefs seem satisfied with Kawika Mitchell at middle linebacker.
FTS - Maz quite likely is done, and I think everyone knows it. The MLB position is Mitchell's now. It's obvious by watching the practices that Mitchell has stepped up his play and this defense is now his to lead.

SL - With cornerback Eric Warfield sidelined four games, Dexter McCleon takes over as the starter opposite Patrick Surtain. McCleon, who struggled last season, has the edge over veterans Dewayne Washington and Ashley Ambrose - both of whom will play in obvious passing situations.


FTS - Warpaint Nation has many different questions/opinions on McCleon. I don't think Friday's preseason game vs. the Vikings provided any answers either. I'll still worry about the defense until I see some solid cornerback play on the other side of Surtain. Opponents won't even look Surtain's side of the field when the regular season opens on September 11th.

Date Line August 15th – Pro Sports Exchange

PSE - Battle of the Week: Backup middle linebacker behind starter Kawika Mitchell. Fifth-round draft pick Boomer Grigsby, the short-but-tough player from Division I-AA Illinois State, is a regular on several kick coverage first teams, and thus seems to have an edge over Rich Scanlon, the defensive player of the year in NFL Europe. But Grigsby doesn't exactly light it up in regular defense, dashing the unspoken hope of Chiefs' fans that he might quickly develop into the next Zach Thomas.
FTS - The Warpaint Nation has been debating this battle ever since Boomer was drafted and Scanlon became NFLE's Defensive Player of the Year. This isn't just this week's battle though...this war won't be decided until the last cut in September.

PSE - Other Battle Fronts: The final two receiver spots behind Eddie Kennison, Samie Parker and Dante Hall. Nobody really jumped out in the Minnesota game, though Marc Boerigter worked open for a 15-yard catch on a third-and-long play. He's also on several No. 1 kicking teams. Chris Horn, who started at flanker in place of Kennison, has a reputation for toughness over the middle. But if the Chiefs want speed -- and who doesn't -- they'll turn to Craphonso Thorpe, the fourth-round draft pick this year. Ex-Eagle Freddie Mitchell is in the mix, too, though he's fallen to the edge after missing the last week with a knee injury he's decided to let heal on its own.
FTS - Boerigter makes this team without question, due to what he brings on special teams. The question that Warpaint Nation wants answered is whether the Chiefs carry five or six wide receivers this season. The answer to that question will depend on how the Chiefs think Mitchell is able to contribute this season. Thorpe makes this team without any question because of his vast potential and the Chiefs knowing there is no way he makes it through waivers to be put on the practice squad.

PFE - Player of the Week: LB Derrick Johnson (repeat winner). We hate being repetitive, but the Chiefs' first-round draft pick continues to generate the most buzz in camp. This week it happened in a 7-on-7 drill when Johnson dropped into coverage on a slot receiver, WR Jeris McIntyre. Though 45 pounds heavier, Johnson stayed with McIntyre stride-for-stride on a 25-yard downfield pattern. When the receiver made an outside move, Johnson timed his break perfectly and made the interception. It was the kind of play the Chiefs hope to get from their cornerbacks, much less a linebacker.
FTS - The DJ bandwagon is getting awfully full now. Amazing how the national scribes have forgotten about all that "can't take on blockers" garbage they were spreading in April isn't it? The Defensive Rookie of the Year award is DJ's to lose, but we told you that in OTA's. Some just never catch on fast enough.

Do you agree or disagree? Let us know what you think. See you next time!

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