CHIEFS NOTES: Strategy Session and Injuries
<CHIEFS/JETS STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
With five new starters on defense - four of them completely new to Kansas City - the Chiefs believe they have made an appreciable personnel upgrade to a unit ranked dead-last in pass defense and next-to-worst in scoring defense last year.
Newcomers Sammy Knight and Patrick Surtain (ex-Miami), Kendrell Bell (ex-Pittsburgh), Derrick Johnson (University of Texas) and Jimmy Wilkerson (a KC reserve last year) will make their Arrowhead starting debuts against the Jets in the season opener at Arrowhead. On paper, the Chiefs should be better in coverage, faster in the linebacker corps and possibly have a better pass rush from the front four. If only the game were played on paper.
"I think we're better on defense, but (what we think) really doesn't count," coach Dick Vermeil noted. "I thought we were better on defense last year at this time, too. I'm apprehensive. To me speculation, projections, beliefs and dreams all have to be proven as we play."
On the NFL's top-returning offense of a year ago, only two new starters will be in place. Both are youngsters - second-year receiver Samie Parker, who caught only nine passes in four games of an injury-plagued rookie season; and right tackle Jordan Black, who four games at right tackle last year after injuries to veterans. Black will start in place of second-year player Kevin Sampson, who likely will miss the opener (dislocated toe) after playing right tackle with the No. 1 offense though most of training camp.
CHIEFS PLAYER PERSONNEL NOTES
QB Trent Green took a full turn at practice Wednesday and seems ready to play in the opener despite undergoing vascular surgery to open a constricted artery on Aug. 30.
KR/WR receiver Dante Hall, who injured a knee in the second preseason game, returned to practice Wednesday and seems ready to handle his full complement of return duties against the Jets. It's possible the Chiefs may limit him in regular offense, however.
DT John Browning, who missed most of training camp with a back injury, is again taking a full load of practice snaps and appears ready to play in the interior line rotation against the Jets.
QB Todd Collins, normally the backup to Trent Green, ran the scout team at Wednesday's practice but likely will be only the No. 3 QB against the Jets as he recovers from a fractured hand in the preseason opener.
CHIEFS GAME PLAN
Defensively, the top priority is to limit the running effectiveness of Jets RB Curtis Martin, the NFL rushing leader last year. The Chiefs would like to make the Jets one-dimensional, though that's unlikely. But they'd like to force Chad Pennington's hand and pressure him with a combination of linebacker and nickel blitzes.
Offensively, look for Kansas City to try some of the three tight ends sets they wanted to use a year ago but couldn't when they lost then rookie tight end Kris Wilson to a broken leg in the fourth preseason game.
Offensive Coordinator Al Saunders has been champing at the bit to employ a new, old look - one he first saw while with the Chargers and their three-tight end formations of the mid 1980s. The running game will likely be the key to the success of both teams.
KEY MATCHUPS TO WATCH
Jets LE Shaun Ellis vs. Chiefs RT Jordan Black
Black has been moving back and forth between left tackle, where he played for vet Willie Roaf when Roaf worked only once daily in camp, and right tackle, where he has been working continually only since Kevin Sampson injured a toe in the second preseason game.
Chiefs WR Eddie Kennison vs. Jets CB Ty Law
Law was one of the league's best prior to his devastating foot injury of last year. Kennison isn't a threat to make All Pro as Law was in his best days, but he's good enough to give Law a test in his first game back.
CHIEFS/JETS SERIES HISTORY
This will be the 30th regular-season meeting. Chiefs lead 15-14-1 in the regular season. Kansas City won the last meeting 29-25 in 2002 at Giants Stadium when Priest Holmes amassed 223 combined yards.
CHIEFS MEDICAL REPORT
RT Kevin Sampson (questionable, toe) did only individual work in Wednesday's practice and is on the doubtful side of questionable.
QB Todd Collins (questionable, hand) will be the No. 3 quarterback for the opener as he still can't grip the ball hard enough to put any real zip on his passes.
KR/WR Dante Hall (questionable, knee/hamstring) worked Wednesday and likely will handle all return duties, even if he gets a more limited role on offense.
LB Rich Scanlon (questionable, shoulder) worked Wednesday, but may end up inactive amid a glut of linebackers.
QB Trent Green (probable, leg) will play after taking a full turn on Wednesday. C
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