Warpaint Roundtable – Offseason Edition XVI

This week our crew tackles the "Falcon" defense, KC's black alternate jerseys, surprise starters, and Larry Johnson's workload.

Since Gunther Cunningham is the linebackers coach now, do you feel we will see more of the "Falcon" this year than we did in the past?

Nick Athan: That would be a great idea, but the Chiefs don't have a linebacker or player that can run that system ala the late Derrick Thomas. By doing that, the Chiefs would be taking a player off the defensive line, and that would be a huge mistake. The strength of this defense, besides left defensive end Alfonso Boone, is the combination of power and speed on the line. By taking just one player away you might negate those two things, and that would spell trouble for KC's defense.

Michael Ash: The last time I remember any talk about the Falcon being used, it was in regards to Tamba Hali, who wouldn't really be affected by Cunningham taking over as linebackers coach. If Cunningham's planning on doing anything like that with Derrick Johnson, the Chiefs have done a good job of hiding it so far.

C.E. Wendler: I don't think it has anything to do with Cunningham's new coaching assignment either way. The Chiefs used Tamba Hali in that "Falcon" role quite a bit during his rookie year, but less last season if I recall correctly. Most likely that had something to do with the fact Hali was nicked up all year. Playing the "Falcon" requires extreme toughness.

You might see it brought out this year as a third-down package if Hali struggles to get pressure from his new position of right defensive end.

Aside from the obvious surprise possible starters such as DaJuan Morgan or Will Franklin, who do you see as the surprise starter of training camp?

Could Steve Octavien surprise everyone in training camp?
Brian Bahr

Nick Athan: I'm high on linebacker Steve Octavien. All he does is make plays, so I could see him as a starter. He's smart and was the Cornhuskers best defensive player this past season.

I still don't see why he wasn't drafted. I think he'll shine in training camp and look forward to watching his progression from third team to second team to challenging Nap Harris for playing time.

As far as anyone else, I really believe rookie defensive end Brian Johnston will be a force to be reckoned with come opening day against the Patriots. He might supplant Boone or McBride as a starter eventually.

Michael Ash: Barring an injury to one of the existing starters, I don't see any surprises in the starting lineup on opening day. The only name I'll throw out as a possibility is Johnston, if only because the depth at defensive end isn't all that great. If he really tears it up at camp, maybe they'd keep Boone inside and start Johnston, but that's not too likely at this point.

C.E. Wendler: We already know the right side of KC's current starting offensive line - Adrian Jones, Damion McIntosh - is lacking on paper. It's entirely possible one of the backup linemen rises to the occasion this preseason and steals a job. Maybe Tre Stallings, Herb Taylor or Barry Richardson.

Any chance the Chiefs break out with something different this year and wear the alternate Black jerseys?

Nick Athan: Never heard anything to support that. In fact, I've never seen them, to be honest with you. Team owner Clark Hunt is far too traditional for such a jersey, but I would not mind seeing a different helmet. I saw an alternate design about 12 years ago that used arrows similar to the Warpaint Illustrated logo.

Michael Ash: The Chiefs used the white-on-white colors a few times during Herm Edwards' first season, as it was Lamar Hunt's favorite look. I don't remember the team wearing those colors at all last year, so if they do anything different, I'd bet on that.

C.E. Wendler: Let's hope not. Black has been creeping into jersies around the NFL for years now. It's like a virus. Yes, it looks cool, but there's something to be said for tradition.

I'd say it's a safe bet the tradition of black, gray, and yellow Chiefs alternate jerseys will continue in one place at Arrowhead Stadium: the gift shop.

What are our expectations for Larry Johnson in terms of carries? 250? 300?

What's a suitable workload for LJ?
Jonathan Daniel

Nick: I sat down with Chan Gailey and asked him that very question. His response indicated to me that he has no idea. Johnson will carry it as many times as the team needs him to and he'll be the workhorse.

Personally, I can't see him getting more than 350 carries. The Chiefs have three solid backs behind him and they'll all need to touch the ball some in 2008.

Michael Ash: Right in that range is probably what they'll shoot for, but I think it really depends on how well the team plays. It's one thing to say before the season that the Chiefs don't want to give a running back too many carries, but things like that tend to fly out the window when meaningful games are being played.

C.E. Wendler: In his interview with us a few months ago, Chan Gailey specifically made a reference to "25 carries a game," which would equal 400 carries. I can't imagine the Chiefs want to subject Larry Johnson to that kind of workload again, though.

You can probably count on the team trailing in plenty of games this year. That will naturally lend itself to reduced carry numbers for Johnson, so it'll all work out in the end.

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