Albert Questionable For Redskins

The biggest unknown still lingering over the Chiefs' upcoming bout with the Redskins is the status of Branden Albert. He left with a bum ankle during Sunday's loss to the Cowboys, and has consequently missed every practice this week.

Despite some misperception, Albert has not yet been ruled out. Head coach Todd Haley hinted it might be a game-time decision.

"I'm still not ruling (Albert) out because of the position he plays," said Haley. "He's making huge strides. He's doing everything in his power. He's walking and getting around and doing things he wasn't able to do. Each day has been big jumps for him, so I want to just keep it alive. "

Wade Smith received the majority of the reps this week at left tackle, and was spelled by Ike Ndukwe and even Barry Richardson, who is currently on the practice squad. If Haley wants to use Richardson, he'll have to be elevated and activated, which wasn't ruled out Friday. Haley also said the Chiefs might use multiple players at left tackle, including Albert in a non-starting role.

"Even if he's not lining up first team, the fact that he's there and filling in, if we thought that he could do that, it would be worthwhile," said Haley.

Another player on KC's injury report is Jarrad Page, who is dealing with a shoulder injury, but was back at practice Friday. Haley said Page made great strides since Thursday. Page and Albert will be listed as questionable.

Aside from players on injured reserve or Kolby Smith (who's still on the physically unable to perform list), most injured Chiefs have managed to return to the practice field in a timely manner this season. Haley made it clear early on, both with his words and treatment of injured players in training camp, that players must practice to play on Sundays.

That message was reiterated when the Chiefs cut Zach Thomas, who'd spent the vast majority of training camp injured. Haley comes from the Bill Parcells school of coaching, and if there's anybody who loathed the sight of highly-paid athletes laid up on the training table, it's Parcells. Haley wants his players to be tough, physically and mentally.

"I define toughness as a person that's able to overcome adversity, whether that's mental or physical adversity, and be dependable," he said. "I talk about receivers; to me mental toughness covers it all, because if you're mentally tough and a ball's thrown over the middle, you're not thinking about anything else but catching the ball. If you're not mentally tough, you're thinking about ‘Oh geez, there's a safety coming, and what's going to happen when he hits me?' "

"If you find mentally tough guys that are unaffected by the variable around them, whatever they may be, then you generally have a chance. You've got to have some talent. You can't just have a bunch of mentally tough guys that are bricklayers."

The talent factor is something Haley and general manager Scott Pioli are constantly working on, both on the roster and coaching staff. Case in point, Thursday's demotion of receivers coach Dedric Ward and hiring of Richie Anderson. Accumulating the talent will take time, but Haley is wasting no time trying to instill mental toughness in his current players.

Friday he referenced former NFL receiver Keyshawn Johnson, whom he coached in New York and Dallas, as a player with mental toughness. In one game, Johnson was knocked unconscious and returned to the field four plays later.

"In all the years I coached him and I watched him play, I never saw fear," said Haley. "Never saw it. Didn't matter what the situation was."

"You've seen the model of what toughness and courage is and you just try to relay that to the guys, and some guys might never be. That goes for anything. It doesn't necessarily mean just football. It means life in general. There's tough people, and like they say, tough times don't last, but tough people do. The more tough guys, players, coaches alike, we can have, the better."

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