Seven To Work On

Yesterday I wrote about the ten things we've learned since we began our camp coverage in River Falls. There are a lot of positives to talk about, but there are some things that this team needs to work on. With a scrimmage today and four exhibition games before the real fun begins, there is time to dissect, improve and adjust.

With that in mind, here are seven things (in no particular order) that I think the Chiefs need to improve upon before the season opener.

7. Tackle Will Svitek is going to be a player in the NFL. But at times in practice, he lets his temper get the best of him. His pushing and shoving matches with defenders are in protection of his offensive teammates, but he must keep his temperament in check. Herman Edwards made it clear that the last thing he wants to see is highlights of his teams' practices being shown on TV with his players not keeping their cool.

6. The Chiefs need to get new running back Michael Bennett as many reps in game situations as possible. Larry Johnson is going to be the starter, but you must have a back-up who can spell him from time to time. You need a guy who can gain a yard or two in a critical situation or catch a pass out of the backfield. Bennett can do both of those things very well, but he has some catching up to do in regards to learning this offense.

5. Kevin Sampson must establish himself as the man to beat at right tackle. In recent days, he's looked far more comfortable than he did early on in camp. He's used his feet better and he looks more confident. It's clear that Willie Roaf is still teetering on his retirement stance. But for now, someone has to step up and anchor the right side of the line. Sampson is the best option because Jordan Black, who has been working some at guard, struggled a year ago as the starter. Sampson has the skill level and the tools to get the job done.

4. The back-up quarterback battle appears to be a two-man race. Damon Huard is the veteran and Casey Printers is the up-and-comer. I was talking with Chiefs' quarterbacks coach Terry Shea yesterday and he was impressed with Printers. He needs to work on staying in the pocket, but his natural instinct to run comes only after he's checked off all his passing options. That's a good sign. The Chiefs are going to have to decide between the experienced, but sometimes erratic, play of Huard or the inexperienced play of Printers to back-up Trent Green. Both will get a lot of snaps during the next five weeks.

3. There are two guys on the defensive line that need to step up their game. Defensive end Carlos Hall can be a force when he's healthy. Defensive tackle Jimmy Wilkerson has bulked up and his versatility in playing inside and outside is a bonus for the Chiefs. Both of these guys are unique pieces to the defensive line puzzle and both have shown flashes that they can be special contributors. Now they need to be consistent.

2. The Chiefs wide receiving corps needs someone else to step up. Eddie Kennison and Samie Parker are fixtures in the starting line-up. But beyond that, there are some question marks. Jeff Webb has the best hands of the youngsters and Craphonso Thorpe has the most potential. But Webb is a rookie, and Thorpe has been battling a shoulder injury. Dante Hall should get more opportunities, but it can't come at the expense of the return game. With that said, the Chiefs should keep their options open and would be wise to add a veteran to this group somewhere along the line. Until then, Webb and Thorpe need to get as much playing time as possible.

1. If Brian Waters misses more time than expected, then Chris Bober or rookie Tre Stallings will have to handle the position. Like they do at offensive tackle, the Chiefs have several options at left guard. Stallings was drafted as a tackle, but he's solid on the interior and might end up as the heir apparent to Will Shields. But he's still green. The Chiefs need to plug him into the middle of the line and get whatever they can out of him until the regular season begins. Bober can play almost any position on the line.

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