Monday Morning Quarterback: A Step Forward

On Saturday night, we saw a few things that made Chiefs' head coach Herm Edwards smile and frown. On the positive front Kansas City's offense sustained some long drives and the defense played with a heartbeat, limiting the Rams' first-team offense to three points in a 16-12 win. But penalties were a concern after the game and the Chiefs need to find a way to play smarter.

Don't let anyone tell you that this game wasn't important. To those players fighting for roster spots, it didn't matter that it was preseason. The Chiefs needed to come out and show that they could play good football. They did just that, and in the process some young players made an impact.

For the most part they did that but Head Coach Herm Edwards was very unhappy with the critical penalties that killed some drives on offense and allowed the Rams to keep some of their drives alive. That was a negative. Still there were a lot of positives that came out of this game.

Defensively, the Chiefs needed to get more push up the middle and they did that on occasion. Ron Edwards and James Reed were able to get in the backfield and the linebackers were more active. But the best news of the night was the penetration that defensive ends Jared Allen and Tamba Hali were able to get from the outside.

Late in the second quarter, Hali rekindled memories of the late Derrick Thomas when he stripped the ball from Rams quarterback Marc Bulger. The play resulted in a turnover and set up a 50-yard field goal by Lawrence Tynes. If there was any doubt that Hali would be the starter come opening day, it's now gone.

Kansas City's defense forced turnovers. That's what it has to do if the Chiefs are going to be successful this season.

Rookie safety Bernard Pollard picked off a Bulger pass in the first half but he also was called for a personal foul in the fourth quarter. He made up for that with his bone-crushing hit on Rams wide receiver Brandon Middleton. The hit resulted in a fumble recovery by Benny Sapp.

Jimmy Wilkerson also had a good night. He was strong in run support and had one of the Chiefs' two sacks for the evening.

On offense, the Chiefs produced a score in all but one of their first-half drives. Quarterback Trent Green was efficient, hitting eight passes for 100 yards. Green did an outstanding job of getting the ball to Eddie Kennison and Samie Parker, but he failed to connect with tight end Tony Gonzalez. That's something that has to improve before the start of the regular season.

Running back Larry Johnson capped his only drive of the night with a touchdown. It's clear to me that he could care less if Willie Roaf is on the field. He ran equally well to both the right and left side of the offensive line. He's already in regular season form and if he'd remained in the game he would have ravaged St. Louis' first-team defense.

The starters looked good, but after Green gave way to rookie quarterback Brodie Croyle midway through the second quarter, and the offense stalled.

But the team accomplished what it needed to tonight, and both sides of the ball made far more positive plays than negative ones.

53-Man Roster Update
Five That Made the Team
1. RB Michael Bennett - In his limited time on the field, Bennett showed why he's the clear-cut backup to Johnson. He ran for 39 yards on 13 carries and was far more effective than any other backup running back.

2. G Jordan Black - Of all the offensive linemen on the field, Black impressed me the most. He was solid at guard and the Chiefs coaching staff made a good decision when they moved him inside. He played one of his best games as a Chief.

3. P Dustin Colquitt - It finally hit me in the press box that Dustin Colquitt reminds me of former Oakland Raiders punter Ray Guy. His booming punts backed up the Rams offense. Colquitt has been the preseason MVP. If he continues to punt like this, he could make the Pro Bowl.

4. QB Brodie Croyle If he had a bit more experience, he'd be the number two quarterback right now. He made several good throws, showed maneuverability in the pocket and put his team in position to score points. Edwards made a big statement Saturday night when he passed over Damon Huard and Casey Printers in favor of his third-round draft pick. If he gets the same amount of playing time next week against the Saints, he might beat out Huard.

5. CB Lenny Walls He flashed outstanding cover skills tonight. I've never been a fan of tall cornerbacks, but he took advantage of his opportunity on Saturday because Alphonso Hodge sat out with an injury. If the Chiefs keep five cornerbacks, he'll have a good shot at making the 53-man roster. I like his experience in the AFC West and he brings depth to the position.

Five That Didn't Make It:
1. RB Dee Brown - Not to be cruel, but this experiment is over. Bennett is clearly the guy. The problem I have with Brown is that if he doesn't have Titanic-sized running lanes, he can't find a hole. He just doesn't appear to have the necessary instincts for this league.

2. WR Nate Curry - Clearly he isn't the answer as Dante Hall's backup. He fumbled one punt and called a fair catch when he had room to run up the field. He's really pressing, and though he has some speed and ability, I would have liked to have seen Chris Hannon get some of his reps. Hannon will probably get another opportunity after Curry is cut.

3. WR Jeff Webb - I hate to put him on this list, but he's not making smart decisions. Croyle delivered a perfect pass to Webb on a third down, only to see the rookie wideout fail to drag his second foot. He was then called for pass interference later in the game. He's been handed the fourth wide receiver slot, but he's showing that he's not ready for primetime duty. He has upside, but the lights need to come on before next Thursday's game against the New Orleans Saints.

5. LB Nick Reid - The former Kansas linebacker didn't see any action with the Chiefs' backups. That doesn't bode well for his chances of making the team. The only bright spot for him might be the fact the Chiefs showed some 3-4 defensive fronts. That means they'll carry at least eight linebackers. But at this point, he's number nine. He has virtually no shot to make the roster, but he might make the practice squad.

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