For Now, The Roster Is Set

There weren't many surprises on Saturday when the Chiefs trimmed their roster to 53. A few big names were on the list like Junior Siavii, Casey Printers and Carlos Hall, but relative unknowns like Derrick Ross and Chris Hannon made the team, as did all seven draft picks. With the Bengals on the horizon, head coach Herm Edwards has most of the pieces in place to start the 2006 season.

The one thing that was clear after the cuts was that the turnover from last year's roster is significant.

"This is not the same team we had a year ago," said Edwards.

The roster is set according to league rules, but it's hardly set in stone. Knowing Edwards like I do, the Chiefs will make a few more moves in the coming days to tweak certain elements of the team.

With that knowledge in hand, the Chiefs cut the following players on Saturday: T Thomas Barnett, DT Shane Burton, S Scott Connot, WR Nate Curry, TE Aaron Golliday, RB Quentin Griffin, LB Brandon Guillory, DE Carlos Hall, C Johnathan Ingram, CB Chris Johnson, LB William Kershaw, WR Jeris McIntyre, DE Clint Mitchell, FB J.R. Niklos, T Jeremy Parquet, QB Casey Printers, DT Junior Siavii, RB McKenzi Smith, DE Zach Ville and DT Stephen Williams.

The Chiefs also placed cornerback Alphonso Hodge and defensive lineman John Browning on injured reserve. That means neither will be eligible to play in 2006.

Some of the players cut will likely be added to the Chiefs practice squad this Sunday. Most notably, quarterback Casey Printers and linebacker William Kershaw. Some of the other cuts might return, but I think the Chiefs will look outside of the organization to find one or two hidden gems for the practice squad.

The Chiefs will also be hoping they can find players who can make up for the disappointment left behind by Hall and Siavii.

Hall has a lot of ability as pass rusher, but you can't rush the quarterback if you can't get on the field. He was injured for the majority of his time in Kansas City. When the Titans traded him a year ago, he had the "injury prone" label.

For Edwards, the decision to cut Hall wasn't all that difficult.

"You have to get on the field to be evaluated," he said.

Siavii had similar problems. After being selected as the team's first draft choice in 2004, he had troubles picking up the defensive schemes. He just never seemed to be able to grasp what he was being told on the practice field.

Injuries limited his playing time, but the primary reason he struggled was a lack of experience. He needed to stay in college another year and develop his game, instead choosing to enter the draft after his junior season. In the end, that move might be something he won't ever overcome.

There were, however, positives out of cut day. Without a doubt, one of them is undrafted rookie free agent running back Derrick Ross. The unknown from little Tarleton State left an impression from his first workout to his last run Thursday night against the Saints. He could be the first man cut if the Chiefs add another fullback, but for now he's one of the happiest players on the team.

Ross has everything you want in a running back. He runs low to the ground, has great vision and knows where the holes are and when to run through them. That's god-given instinct. He reminds me of a very raw and young Priest Holmes. The Chiefs need to do everything they can to make him a productive special teams player. If he can catch on there, he can steal Dee Brown's roster spot should the Chiefs add another player.

The other notable thing about today was all seven rookies making the final roster. The only real surprise was fifth-round pick Marcus Maxey. The Miami cornerback struggled at times, but still managed to beat out veteran Chris Johnson.

Maxey has the tools and comes from a program that prepares players to excel in the NFL. But he's not ready for live action. Most likely, Edwards felt he could fill in the gaps so Maxey could one day become a productive player.

I wasn't surprised that Tre' Stallings made this team. When he was drafted, I didn't think he had a chance. There were questions about his work ethic and attitude, but he stood out the very first time I saw him in OTAs. He played tackle in college but he's adapted to the guard position so well that he could compete for a starting job after Will Shields retires.

Casey Printers was cut for obvious reasons. He really regressed over the last several weeks, especially since Brodie Croyle stepped up his play and nearly took the backup job from Damon Huard.

Printers has to learn that this is not the CFL. His touch passing is not up to NFL standards, and he has to shake the stigma of being a running quarterback. His pocket presence needs major retooling. Not many run-first quarterbacks are successful in the NFL. With that said, I hope he returns to Kansas City. Quarterbacks coach Terry Shea is an outstanding teacher, and I think if Printers could spend the entire year under his tutelage, he'd have a chance to make this team outright in 2007.

But even if that happens, Croyle is the clear-cut quarterback of the future. If Printers wants to start one day in the NFL, he needs to stick with a good organization that has the patience to develop his raw talent. The next move he makes with his professional career needs to be well thought out.

With all the roster jostling behind them, Edwards and the Chiefs can now focus on preparing for the Cincinnati Bengals. It's hard to believe that the regular season is just a week away.

Edwards now has the keys to the car he's always wanted to drive. This is now his team.

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