Warfield Set to Return for Chiefs

Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Eric Warfield is back, but he may not be ready to jump right back into his former position as the Chiefs starting right cornerback.

Not that the Kansas City pass defense, which is ranked 29th in passing yards per game, couldn't use some immediate help.

Warfield comes off a four-game suspension this week for violating the NFL's alcohol and substance abuse police. And though he has been allowed to attend team meetings during his disciplinary period, Warfield knows that the loss of actual game time will be a setback in his bid to regain the starting position he's held on a full-time basis since 2001.

"As far as conditioning work, I've done a lot of that," said Warfield, Kansas City's top pass defender of the past four years. "But what I've done probably won't help me have an impact in the game.

"You have to have actual live football plays to get yourself in football condition. What I've done is a lot of track stuff to make sure I have the legs and the wind to play a whole game. I may be prepared mentally, and I've kept in shape by working with a trainer.

"But it wasn't like I could find some high-caliber receivers on the street to work against."

Given the layoff, Warfield doesn't expect the starting job on the side away from newcomer Patrick Surtain to be his immediately. Dexter McCleon, who lost his starting job last year, has played the right corner spot for the season's first month.

"I'm just happy that all this is behind me now and I've got a new start here," he said. "I'm not expecting to come in and start ahead of Dexter. But I'm here to help in any way I can."

The Chiefs expect to have Willie Roaf, the Pro Bowl left tackle who went down after the second series of the season opener with a hamstring injury, back in time for the Washington game Sunday (Oct. 16).

With Roaf missing for nearly four games, pass protection has been leaky and Trent Green has not been confident in the pocket. Roaf has been his blind-side security blanket since 2002, and without him, Green has not been as sharp.

The Chiefs were bad on pass defense in 2004 when they were 31st in passing yards allowed. But even with the addition of former Miami standouts Patrick Surtain and Sammy Knight in the secondary, they aren't appreciably better in 2005.

After four games last year when the Chiefs were 1-3 after an 0-3 start, Kansas City was giving up 185 passing yards a game. This year after a 2-2 start, they are yielding 273 aerial yards a game.

The only counter to that is that the Chiefs are better against the run this year. They gave up 155 rushing yards on average in the first four games last year. This year they've yielded only 94 in four games, and that's with Denver hiking the number skyward with a 221-yard rushing night.

RB Priest Holmes, who supposedly was going to get a reduced role as the Chiefs try to expand Larry Johnson's role in the KC offense, has had touches on 56 percent of the Chiefs' offensive plays in the first four games. Last year in nine games before his season-ending injury, Holmes had touches on 53 percent of all offensive plays.

TE Tony Gonzalez's unhappy duty as a blocker KC's maximum pass protection schemes could be reduced with the return of LT Willie Roaf. Gonzalez was complaining loudly after the 37-31 loss to Philadelphia when he was used as a blocker instead of a receiver when he caught only two balls for 5 yards while staying in close to block against a strong Philly pass rush.

RB Larry Johnson apparently still has the confidence of the Chiefs coaches despite fumbling twice in the past two games, both losses. Johnson lost a ball at the Denver 12 and at midfield against the Eagles. Both turnovers were converted into touchdown drives.

T Jordan Black, who has been playing left tackle since early in the season opener in the absence of Willie Roaf, is under consideration for a return to the right tackle spot where he started four games last year. It's more likely, though, that the Chiefs will have Kevin Sampson stay at right tackle while Black continues to work with Roaf at the left tackle spot. The Chiefs do not know if Sampson will return this week after a seizure put him in a New Jersey Hospital. Reports have indicated the cause of the seizure was due to a complication with Asthma. But the Chiefs have made no official comments regarding Sampson or his condition nor his availability to the team in the coming week.

Warpaint Illustrated Contributed to this report.

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