Chiefs Send Message With Cuts

It's rare to see any big names cut when the NFL pares down its rosters to 53 men every year. So when the Chiefs cut two starters from the previous year over the weekend – Damion McIntosh and Bernard Pollard – it had to send a message to the rest of KC's roster.

No one is safe. Perform. Or else.

General manager Scott Pioli and head coach Todd Haley evidently didn't care that McIntosh and Pollard had both started 31 of the last 32 games for the Chiefs. Nor did they care that both could have provided adequate depth in Kansas City this year.

Neither player is devoid of value. As a veteran who has played both tackle spots, McIntosh has the capability to come off the bench and, at the very least, help an offense avoid complete disasters in pass protection. Pollard's affinity for blocking punts and the ability to land the occasional big hit will surely land him a spot in some other NFL city.

But as poorly as McIntosh and Pollard played this preseason, cutting both made sense. Not only did it rid the roster of a pair of liabilities, but it definitely sent that message to the 53 Chiefs who made it – no one is safe.

The final straw with McIntosh may have come last Thursday against the Rams. McIntosh handled St. Louis' star defensive end, Chris Long, quite well. But it was a play at the start of the second quarter that probably raised some eyebrows in the film room when the game was reviewed.

Long was playing right defensive end and his backup, Victor Adeyanju, was lined up at defensive tackle. That meant a little-known, third-string defensive end was matched against McIntosh, who was promptly beaten horribly and allowed a crushing sack on Brodie Croyle.

The end in question is CJ Ah You. Likely, you had no idea who he was before he toasted McIntosh for a sack last Thursday. It's possible even Pioli and Haley didn't know who he was. All that really mattered, however, is that McIntosh allowed some no-name who is still buried on a depth chart to nail a Chiefs quarterback. That doesn't fly in Kansas City any more, no matter who you are or what you've done in the past, and so McIntosh is gone.

Who will replace him? Against the Rams, it was Ike Ndukwe with the second-team offense at right tackle. Ndukwe had some struggles of his own, giving up a few pressures, but it's pretty clear the Chiefs will take a younger, inexperienced player with talent who may struggle at times over an older player who may struggle at times, like McIntosh. This is also true in the case of Ryan O'Callaghan, another young, inexperienced tackle whom the Chiefs picked up Sunday afternoon.

As for Pollard, we don't need to rehash the terrible game he played against the Seahawks two weeks ago. Clearly, the Chiefs were watching as he missed tackle after tackle. Evidently, that doesn't fly in Kansas City any more, no matter who you are or what you've done in the past, and so Pollard is gone.

The most interesting part of Pollard's story, however, is that he didn't receive an opportunity to redeem himself after the Seattle game. He was deactivated against the Rams as veterans John McGraw and Mike Brown started.

That in itself may send another message – take advantage of your opportunities, because you may not receive that many. McGraw played well against the Rams and so did young safety DaJuan Morgan. They didn't squander their opportunity, and made the 53-man roster.

Who will replace Pollard? It may be Brown, McGraw or Morgan, no one knows at the moment. But whoever it is, we do know they'll have to keep performing as they did during the preseason. The message has been sent.

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