Lional Dalton: Bringing Out The Animal

Chiefs' defensive tackle Lional Dalton signed a new contract this off-season, and he's looking to give the team his best in 2006 and beyond. With a new head coach and defensive line coach by his side, Dalton is ready to wreak havoc on opposing offenses.

After shopping his services around the league in March, Dalton realized that there was no place like home. That was in Kansas City, where he's been a fixture in the middle of the Chiefs defense since 2004.

For those who don't know Dalton, he's a fun-loving guy who is all business on the football field. And that business is to occupy the middle of the line of scrimmage alongside Ryan Sims. Their job is to force opponents to concentrate on using the center and both guards so the Chiefs' outside pass rushers have a more direct path to the quarterback.

Nothing will be more important to the Chiefs defensive fortunes this season than the play of Dalton's line mates. The players on the inside don't get much publicity, but they set the tone at the point of attack. How well they play will determine how the rest of the defense fares this season.

Dalton has been impressive in training camp so far. He's clogging the middle and doing a good job of forcing running backs to go outside, where the linebackers are in position to make tackles and prevent long gains.

There is no question the defense is ahead of the offense at this point in training camp. Dalton realizes it's early, but he knows what he needs to do to improve.

"I'm just trying to get better, and trying not make the same mistakes twice," said Dalton. "My conditioning is getting better, and when you're in better shape you can be more active on the field. That's when you can give 100 percent on the field and you can start having fun. That's when your true animal comes out."

That attitude is why the Chiefs signed Dalton to a long-term deal in the Spring. He's always been a productive player, and his energy level is contagious. He's also a leader and this season he has a better defensive coaching staff around him. New defensive line coach Tim Krumrie has made a big impression on Dalton.

"He's played 12 years in the league, so we respect what he says as a player and a coach," said Dalton. "He's intense. There's no slacking around him. He really gets us going on the field."

And that's the key for Dalton and Sims this year. Krumrie is a passionate and determined coach. He's the perfect man to teach the Chiefs defensive linemen, and that's exactly what he does every day. Chiefs Head Coach Herman Edwards has every position coach spend 20 minutes with their respective players, and he believes these sessions will pay off in the long run.

He might be right, because the defensive line appears to be more focused than in years past. If they buy into the new defensive schemes designed by defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham, Dalton could have a monster season.

Dalton's best characteristic is that he's a veteran who still has plenty left in the tank. He doesn't need a kick in the pants, and he's willing to be a leader.

But training camp isn't easy for anyone. Talent alone won't get you through the grind of two-a-days. Dalton said that it's important to be mentally tough so you can work your way through the preseason.

If the rest of the defense can handle that aspect of Camp Edwards, Dalton and his ten friends might find themselves destroying anyone who gets in their way once the regular season starts.

WarpaintIllustrated.com Top Stories