This could indicate a growing confidence by the coaching staff in some of these young LBs.
Tamba Hali again proved he is one of the hardest working players in the NFL. His 8.5 sacks could stand on their own as impressive, but when taking into consideration he was playing linebacker for the first time in his career, it solidifies his worthiness as a starter.
DJ is the key for KC Linebacker resurgence.
The prospect of Derrick Johnson being in a Chiefs' uniform in 2010 is somewhat of a miracle after his tumultuous 2009 season, which found the former first-round pick coming off the bench for the first time in his career. But after proving his worth, tenacity, and drive to head coach Todd Haley last season, he is now being viewed as one of the premier players on the defense.
Given that this may be his last legitimate shot at becoming a starting LB in the NFL, not to mention a contract year, expect big things from #56 in 2010.
This is where things may get a bit sketchy.
Demorrio Williams was the Chiefs' leading tackler last season, leading many to think the job will still be his in 2010. I disagree. Being the leading tackler on a poor defensive unit is like being the richest kid in the trailer park. Williams was/is very serviceable but if Scott Pioli, Todd Haley, and Romeo Crennel are serious about building a playoff caliber team, serviceable is just not good enough.
Demorrio Williams is serviceable for this defense but is he a difference maker?
Jovan Belcher showed enough last year in his limited action to deserve a look as a starter. Belcher made some spectacular tackles in ‘09 and has shown up to OTA's and minicamp bigger, stronger, and faster. With the help of a much improved defensive coaching staff, Belcher could become a new star in K.C.
The fourth and final starting spot will be a battle worthy of HBO's Hard Knocks. Andy Studebaker, Pierre Walters, and Cameron Sheffield will be the focus of my eye at training camp. Studebaker showed some pretty impressive flashes at times last season and is probably the frontrunner at this point to start. Mike Vrabel seems to be little more than a tutor and an insurance policy if these young guys fail.
Whether it's slightly or vastly, the Chiefs' linebacker core should be much improved this upcoming season.