Expect Collins to throw it a Ton on Sunday

It wouldn't surprise too many people if Kerry Collins and the 3-4 Oakland Raiders didn't come to Arrowhead this week looking to throw the ball 50 times against the porous Chiefs secondary.

Normally, that would suggest the Raiders were trailing in the game and battling to catch up. Collins threw 39 times in a season-opening loss to New England, 42 in a narrow loss to Philadelphia and 48 in a 13-point loss to San Diego.

Against the 4-3 Chiefs, though, throwing that often might just be a good game plan.

The NFL's worst pass defense a year ago, the Chiefs' supposedly improved defense is off to an even worse start this year.

After eight games last year, Kansas City was ranked only 22 in pass defense after giving up 228 passing yards a game. But this year, the group that made four major off-season acquisitions in CB Patrick Surtain, S Sammy Knight, LBs Kendrell Bell and draftee Derrick Johnson are 31st after yielding 274 yards a game.

Moreover, the Chiefs' secondary is almost, if not quite, as banged up as that of the Raiders.

Starting corners Surtain and Eric Warfield missed Wednesday's workout with injuries. Warfield is expected to play on his hip pointer, but Surtain is merely hopeful at this point with the same sore knee that required attention in Miami. Former starter Dexter McCleon did limited work Wednesday while trying to come back from a two-game absence with a sprained knee.

Wednesday's corners with the first unit were aging vet Dewayne Washington and second-year nickel back Benny Sapp.

That prospect along ought to light the eyes of Collins and WR Jerry Porter, as well as make the ailing Randy Moss get healthy.

But the Chiefs remain defiant.

"They've got some great receivers and they like to go deep, so that's probably what they'll try to do," said DE Jared Allen, Kansas City's best -- some would say, only -- pass rusher.

"But that also means the quarterback is going to be holding the ball, which means we've got chances to get to him. (Collins) is having a great year (10th ranked among all passers), but if we can pressure him, he might make some bad decisions.

"I hope they do throw the ball 50 times, because that means 50 pass rushes and we're going to win some of those."

SERIES HISTORY: This is the 91st regular-season meeting between the two teams. Chiefs lead 46-42-2 after winning the last five games, including a 23-17 victory earlier this year in Oakland that wasn't decided until safety Sammy Knight knocked away a pass for Porter in the end zone in the final minute.

Backup running back Larry Johnson could either start or get an extended playing role against Oakland depending on Priest Holmes' ability to play following the mild concussion he received last week against San Diego.

But even though Johnson is averaging more yards than Holmes - 5.3 yards on 75 carries to Holmes' 3.8 average on 119 tries - the often frustrated third-year running back knows he will remain a backup for as long as Holmes can suit up.

"You know Dick Vermeil and I know Dick Vermeil," Johnson said. "(Changing the depth chart) ain't gonna happen. I've just got to let this situation ride out and get whatever I can get my hands on."

Last year Johnson got his hands on two starting opportunities against Oakland in the season's final five games when Holmes was down. He rushed for 118 yards on 20 carries while adding 56 more yards on three receptions in a Dec. 5 win in the East Bay. In the Christmas Day rematch at Arrowhead he had 79 rushing yards on 25 tries and another 43 on four catches.

But to be elevated to starting status on merit alone? Johnson isn't holding his breath.

"Basically, this is what they brought me here to do the past two seasons," he said of his backup's role. "Whatever opportunities I get, I've got to do the most with them and see where it takes me."

The Chiefs led the NFL in goal-to-go touchdowns last year with 27 on 33 situations, an 81.8 percent conversion rate. In 2005, however, the Chiefs have scored touchdowns on only 7 of 13 goal-to-go situations, a mere 54 percent. Moreover, they've settled for four field goals this year as opposed to the three they took off goal-to-go situations in all of 2004.

The absence of Priest Holmes, a veritable touchdown machine inside the 5, was especially noticeable last week in San Diego when Kansas City got only one field goal from 11 plays run from the Chargers' 11 in the fourth quarter of an eventual 8-point loss.

"He's as good as the best there's ever been running the ball inside the 5-yard line," coach Dick Vermeil said of Holmes. "But sooner or later things catch up to you. Sometimes things don't go well with your offensive line. Sometimes the defense wins, especially the better defenses."

Later has come sooner than the Chiefs hoped this year.

Vermeil knows his team has to expand its goal-to-go playbook to rely on somebody other than Holmes.

"Some people are taking away some of the things we've done down there. Credit them," Vermeil said. "We can't just run over people all the time. But we developed the approach that led the league. I'd like to think we can grow that approach to improve where we are right now."

7 - The greatest number of points separating the Chiefs in Raiders during each of the victories in Kansas City's current five-game winning streak between the two clubs.

9 - The number of times the Chiefs have swept the season series from the Raiders since 1990.

30 - When the Chiefs post that many rushing attempts against the Raiders, they are 17-2 in games since 1990.

"In this league you got six, maybe seven years. Or maybe no years. I've got to get mine now, not later." Larry Johnson, on why he finds it hard to be patient and wait for his chance to be an every down back in the NFL.

DT Ryan Sims, who has been out since injuring his foot in the season opener, is back at Arrowhead working with team trainers in the hope that he can play again sometime later this season.

Sims, who broke a bone high in his foot on the season's first defensive series, has been kept on the active roster because the Chiefs believe he can play this year, possibly in the final month or the playoffs, and second he was playing so well in camp and the preseason that the club isn't ready to write him off. Sims has already begun doing some light jogging this week.

QB Trent Green did not practice Wednesday while attending the funeral of his father in St. Louis. Jim Green died suddenly on a heart attack on Thursday, Oct. 27. Trent Green played against San Diego anyway and had his best passing day of the season (347 yards, 111 passer rating). Green is expected back at practice on Thursday afternoon.

RB Priest Holmes is expected to miss Thursday's session while visiting a southern California neurologist to get a second opinion on the advisability of playing against Oakland after sustaining a mild concussion last week in San Diego. The Chiefs think he will be available, but they want Holmes to be assured that he can play without risk.

CB Dexter McCleon did some light work at Wednesday's practice and might be able to return to the field to help a cornerback corps weakened by injuries to starters Patrick Surtain and Eric Warfield. McCleon, who started four games when Warfield served an NFL suspension in September, missed the last two games with a groin strain.

CB Dewayne Washington, who has played basically as a sixth defensive back except in a few injury-related substitution situations, would be a likely starter if starter Patrick Surtain is unable to play against Oakland because of his knee injury.

WR Samie Parker, a starter in the season's first four games, will miss a third straight game against the Raiders because of a knee injury.

FB Tony Richardson took some snaps at the halfback position Wednesday as the Chiefs prepare for the possibility that Priest Holmes might not be available. Richardson could do some spot backup of Larry Johnson if needed.

For as much as the Raiders will be tempted to throw against the sorry Chiefs secondary, Kansas City also sees chances to go down the field against a Raider defense that lost safety Derrick Gibson to IR last week and has converted CB Charles Woodson out of action. But even while tempted to throw against the young Raider defenders, the Chiefs know the importance of running the ball and controlling the clock in this series, and they've got a guy with proven success against Oakland in Larry Johnson.

Defensively, Kansas City knows Kerry Collins will come out throwing. Their corners can't hold coverage long on their best days, and when they're hurting as the Chiefs are, they need front-seven pressure to get to Collins. They probably can't risk a lot of D-back blitzes, though.

Chiefs TE Tony Gonzalez vs. Raiders LB Tyler Brayton and SS Jarrod Cooper. The Raiders did a good job in limiting Gonzalez to five catches for 44 yards back in Week 2. But Derrick Gibson and Charles Woodson were part of the coverage scheme then. The Raiders aren't that strong today.

Raiders WR's Jerry Porter and Randy Moss vs. Chiefs cornerbacks. Even though Moss is ailing, he and Porter still have big opportunities against any of the ailing corners the Chiefs put out there, whether Patrick Surtain or Eric Warfield or Dexter McCleon or a healthy Dewayne Washington and Benny Sapp. The Raiders clearly have the advantage when they throw the ball and expect them to exploit that early.

DT Ryan Sims (foot) has been out since the opener.

WR Samie Parker (questionable, foot) is expected to miss a third straight game.

Reserve S Jerome Woods will be out with a recurring hamstring injury.

RB Priest Holmes is truly questionable after sustaining a head injury in San Diego last week. The Chiefs think he'll play, but they've been known to be wrong when it's Holmes making the decisions about his own health.

CB Patrick Surtain thinks he can go on a sore knee, but he's truly questionable.

CB Eric Warfield (questionable, hip) is expected to play.

G Will Shields (questionable, knee) missed Wednesday's practice, but the iron man of 199 consecutive starts likely will make it an even 200.

T Kevin Sampson (questionable, illness/shoulder) has yet to fully regain his playing form after suffering complications of dehydration during the bye week.

CB Dexter McCleon (questionable, groin) hopes to get more work Thursday in order to get back into a cornerback-short lineup after a two-week absence.

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