Kansas City's offseason offensive changes were minimal, which is probably good news for a unit that was No. 1 in total yards for a second consecutive season and No. 6 in scoring in 2005. The Chiefs took only two significant offseason losses: the free agent departure of two-time Pro Bowl fullback Tony Richardson, and the retirement of starting right tackle John Welbourn.
Richardson's loss may be felt as much off the field as on it. Though his role diminished some last year in his 11th NFL season, Richardson remained a solid pocket protector for Trent Green, and a solid blocking back for both Priest Holmes and later Larry Johnson. Equally important, he was an off-field mentor for Johnson, who called Richardson one of the few true friends he has on the team.
Ronnie Cruz, who like Richardson entered the league as an undrafted player, will inherit the fullback spot, though the Chiefs have talked about using a third tight end to handle some of the fullback's duties. Replacing Richardson's leadership in the locker room, however, will be much harder.
Kansas City's right tackle position was in flux even with Welbourn in the picture. A guard in Philadelphia who shifted to tackle upon being traded to Kansas City in 2004, Welbourn played the position gamefully, but the Chiefs kept looking for an upgrade. When Welbourn served a four-game suspension last year for violating the league's steroid policy, the Chiefs replaced him first with Kevin Sampson, then with Jordan Black, then with Chris Bober. Welbourn, however, started the final nine games of the season.
Sampson emerged from spring workouts as the leading candidate to replace Welbourn. He was the top guy in training camp last year, but lost the job when a toe injury sidelined him for the last weeks of camp and the first weeks of the season. But the late-spring addition of long-time starting tackle Kyle Turley, trying to return to football following two years of back-related inactivity, gives the Chiefs a veteran option at the position.
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