All of the other 2006 draft picks have seen action on the field. Now it's time for Hali and Croyle to get their first taste of the NFL. For Hali, his impact could be immediate but Croyle's day in the sun might not come for another season or two.
Hali has been receiving treatment for bruised ribs he sustained in a collision with Chiefs tight end Tony Gonzalez in training camp. He's back to full speed and ready to take his place in the starting lineup. Hali is expected to start the season at left defensive end. That's not set in stone, but with veteran Eric Hicks struggling in his first two games, Hali could be the perfect tonic for the Chiefs' defensive woes.
Taking off the defensive shackles might fix the problem, too. But the defensive playmakers making the big bucks on this team need to step up and play with passion on Saturday.
That's where Hali excels. His motor never stops, and if his initial burst forces opposing offensive tackles to retreat, he'll be on the quarterback in a second.
Hali is prepared and confident that he can make plays. He's already taken a leadership role by working hard and showing some of his teammates his driving work ethic.
That doesn't equate to being successful this season, but I wouldn't rule out his chances of getting a sack or two against the Rams. If that happens, this defense will go into the season opener with a bit more confidence.
On the other side of the ball, Croyle will finally get to throw a pass in a real NFL game. A sore shoulder has slowed him, but all signs point to some mop-up duty against the Rams for the young Alabama quarterback.
Croyle has to be itching to get back on the field. He's probably not looking forward to getting hit by NFL defensive ends, but he has to be chomping at the bit to throw his first NFL pass.
The best thing about Croyle is that he'll go into this game with zero expectations. Don't get me wrong, he's a competitor, but his goal is to stay injury free and to make a couple of positive plays to gain confidence and begin the process of one day taking over the offensive engine of the Kansas City Chiefs.
As I've stated over and over again on multiple occasions, I truly believe that Croyle will be a star in this league. Yes, his frame could use a few more pounds, but his fundamental skills at his age can't be ignored.
This is a big moment for him. With Casey Printers and Damon Huard ahead of him on the depth chart, he'll get a few quarters over the next two weeks to strut his golden arm and prove that he has some command of the Chiefs offense.
Hali and Croyle are on opposite ends of the expectation line. That won't mean much on Saturday night, because both of these young players have something to prove.
Time For The Kids To Play
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