Page And Fox Make First Starts

You can never truly anticipate the impact a young player will make for a football team. The Chiefs had to replace a pair of big time defensive starters against the Dolphins on Sunday. Two players made their debut in the starting lineup, and each had an impact on the game. Linebacker Keyaron Fox and rookie safety Jarrad Page started their first games as members of KC's defensive unit.

Page made an impact early in the game by using the one god-given gift he has – speed. In the first quarter, with the Dolphins already leading 3-0, Miami quarterback Joey Harrington lofted a picture-perfect pass toward wide receiver Chris Chambers near the goal line.

It appeared that Chambers beat Chiefs' cornerback Patrick Surtain for a sure touchdown, but Page came halfway across the field and tipped the ball with his fingertips. That saved a touchdown and stopped Miami from going ahead 10 points. It's the type of play that we've yet to see from the Chiefs' starting safeties. Neither Greg Wesley or Sammy Knight possess great speed. They're more skilled than Page or fellow rookie safety Bernard Pollard, but the younger players are the future of KC's deep secondary.

Page had five tackles on the afternoon and was solid in coverage in his first start. He was all over the field until he left the game in the fourth quarter with an undisclosed injury. Despite that he showed flashes that he can become a prime-time player for this defense.

Fox had his moments, but also had lapses in his game that showed he has some distance to bridge before he can be considered anything more than a fill-in starter.

This was a big time test for Fox. He's been working hard, and despite the fact he had seven tackles on Sunday, he's facing a battle for playing time behind Derrick Johnson and Kendrell Bell.

But this game was important to the Chiefs' playoff chances. Fox, who was stacked behind an injured Tamba Hali, was taken out of far too many plays by Miami's tight ends. At times he struggled, and wasn't all that happy with his performance.

"I don't grade myself," said Fox. "I played hard that's about all I can say."

That sums up the play of the rest of his defensive mates, who played better in the second half and kept the Chiefs in the game despite the anemic offense.
The defense did their part when Jared Allen came up with a fumble that helped draw the Chiefs within three points late in the final quarter, but it wasn't enough.

"We had a chance in the fourth quarter but we didn't get it done," said Fox. "We just need to come back next week."

For Fox and Page, it's not known if they'll get another start next weekend, but if they do, the loss in Miami should eliminate any potential butterflies against the Oakland Raiders.

Both young players represent the future, but ready or not, each is needed in the present.

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