Chiefs Set to Host Arizona Cardinals

It will be a reunion of sorts when Dick Vermeil and the Chiefs welcome Kurt Warner and the Cardinals to Arrowhead Stadium Saturday night. Warner played a big part in leading Vermeil and the Rams to a Super Bowl title back in 2000. Now Warner is quarterbacking the Arizona Cardinals, who will take on Vermeil's Chiefs in the second preseason game for both teams.

"Kurt Warner is the No. 2-rated quarterback in history of the National Football League. He's a great player,'' Vermeil said. ``We're not game-planning to stop Kurt Warner. We're just going in to play defense, probably just like they are, just coming to play defense.''

Playing defense would be something new for the Chiefs. The Chiefs' first-team defense was sliced and diced by Daunte Culpepper and the Vikings in their preseason opener. Culpepper finished 5-6 for 84 yards and one 33-yard touchdown pass to Nate Burleson. It won't get any easier for the Chiefs' defense this week playing the Cardinals.

In a 13-11 victory last week over Dallas, Warner made his Arizona debut by hitting 14 of 19 passes for 151 yards, including a 31-yard touchdown toss to Larry Fitzgerald.

Warner said that he felt very comfortable with his receivers last week and he will have even more offensive weapons at his disposal against the Chiefs. The Cardinals will have Marcel Shipp and Anquan Boldin back for this game. Shipp broke his left leg and dislocated his left ankle during a scrimmage last season and Boldin broke his nose in training camp earlier this month. Both players missed the preseason opener against Dallas but will be ready to go Saturday night.

Another player to watch for is rookie running back J.J. Arrington. Arrington is listed as the starter, ahead of Shipp, but he had some fumbling problems against the Cowboys. If the Chiefs don't tackle better than they did against the Vikings, the rookie could have a big game.

The Chiefs should expect a lot of blitzing from the Cardinals' defense. Head coach Dennis Green puts a premium on winning preseason games and doesn't wait until the regular season to turn his defense loose. The Cardinals' defense pressured Cowboys' quarterback Drew Bledsoe the entire first quarter, forcing him to go 4-8 for only 27 yards. The stars on defense for the Cardinals are defensive end Bertrand Berry, safety Adrian Wilson and second-year linebacker Carlos Dansby. Throw in rookie corner Antrell Rolle and it's no surprise that fans in Arizona are excited about their defense.

The Chiefs have a lot to work on after their 27-16 loss to the Vikings. The first-team offense failed to score a touchdown and their "new" defense looked a lot like their old defense and that is not a good thing. Still some of the new players got some valuable experience while others have yet to play a snap for the Chiefs.

Once again the Chiefs will be without newly acquired linebacker Kendrell Bell for the second straight week, as well as backup up linebacker Keyaron Fox and defensive end Carlos Hall. However all should be back on the practice field next week.

Chiefs' fans will get their first live look at rookie Derrick Johnson Saturday night. Johnson has been a star in training camp. His speed and playmaking ability are a welcome addition to the Chiefs' defense.

Despite the injuries and slow start for the defense, Vermeil said he is confident the defense has shown marked improvement.

"They're ahead of where they were last year," Vermeil said. "It ain't even close. And all I have to do is look at the takeaways, the interceptions they've had. We're way ahead, and I think the temperament of the defense, the discipline within the scheme, the fundamentals within the scheme, we're better there."

The one bright spot against the Vikings was the return of Priest Holmes. Holmes showed no signs of the knee injury he suffered last season by rumbling for 42 yards on only four carries. Larry Johnson also looked good, gaining 37 yards on eight carries. The Chiefs will use Holmes sparingly during the preseason so fans should not expect to see much of him against the Cardinals.

This game is a difference in preseason philosophies between the two head coaches. Dick Vermeil doesn't want to play his veterans very long and leave without any serious injuries. Dennis Green likes to build a winning attitude by playing to win preseason games. While the outcome isn't important, seeing marked improvement across the board from the Chiefs this Saturday night is important.

The game may not matter but if the defense is getting run over in the preseason, that won't be good news for the season opener when the Jets come to town on September 11th. Hopefully we will see more inspired play from the Chiefs in their second preseason outing. Top Stories