"Big Ron" Anchors KC Defense

You won't see it on the stat sheet, but Ron Edwards was arguably the biggest reason the Chiefs beat the Redskins Sunday. While his two tackles don't jump off the page, his play certainly jumped off the screen.

It's not a stretch to say Edwards' performance against Washington might have made Todd Haley and Scott Pioli feel comfortable enough about the nose tackle position to trade Tank Tyler the next day.

"He obviously got our game ball on defense, so he played a heck of a game," said Haley. "I think the last couple weeks he's been a pretty disruptive force in there and I'm pretty excited about watching him this week."

While there's plenty of evidence to support the argument that Haley and Pioli are picking off Herm Edwards' players one by one, "Big Ron" (as he was often called by Edwards) is one of few from the previous regime garnering praise from the new one.

"Ron is a guy that bought in 100 percent starting in the offseason program and changed his body," said Haley. "He's a big boy, and he's still a big guy, but he lost a significant amount of weight. He had been a certain weight for a long time in his career, so he changed how he'd been over a span of time."

"I've got nothing but good things to say about Ron. He started a little up and down early, but he's found his place now, I think, and he's trying to be very good at his position. I think he's got something to build on and again I'm looking forward to him making progress every week."

Just as the center is the anchor of the running game on offense, the nose tackle in the 3-4 scheme is the anchor of the defense. With fewer linemen up front, the nose has an even heavier burden than the center. The Chiefs' transition to this defense will be a season-long process that could take even longer.

Several players who were shipped off this year were as out of place with the new coaching staff as they were with the new defense, the key examples being Tyler and Turk McBride. Just as Edwards' diligence has him in good graces with the new decision makers, his body type has him in good position with the new defense.

"I think when (Edwards) was drafted into the league, (the 3-4) is what they were playing up there in Buffalo, so he's got some versatility," said Haley. "I think he can play both spots actually, really all three spots across the board, and probably have a chance to succeed. I think he's one of the guys I worried less about probably when we decided what defense we were going to play."

"I'm just encouraged that this is an example of a guy that worked his butt off the entire offseason, changed his body, and now he's seeing some of the rewards of that work. He's continuing to work and he's continuing to keep his weight where it has to be. I think that's what you look for as a coach, is to see guys have success doing things the way you're asking them to do it and then they start to believe."

If Edwards is indeed what Kansas City's defense needed in the middle - a disruptive, hard-working, tenacious force - if he goes down with an injury, the Chiefs are thin behind him. Haley's hoping he doesn't have to face life without Edwards anytime soon.

"You don't assume anybody's getting hurt and Ron's working hard on his conditioning," he said. "All those things factor into durability, along with a little bit of luck. We feel comfortable with where we're at."

In order to prepare for a potentially uncomfortable scenario that includes an injured Edwards, Haley is working on some contingency plans.

"We've been giving reps to a couple different guys over there that have nose possibilities in a situation if we got stuck," he said. "Glenn Dorsey's playing there if need be, Wallace Gilberry's got some reps, so we've got a plan if something were to happen significant."

And if something happens to fullback Mike Cox, might Haley use Edwards as a lead blocker more frequently? He made his debut against the Redskins last Sunday in a short-yardage situation, and the Chiefs picked up a first down.

"He did a pretty good job," said Haley. "We'll have to keep that a secret. I think he did a good job on the play he had. It's a play we've been practicing for a few weeks, we finally got to use it, and I think he did a good job."

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