Jacksonville returns to the city that played host to the final act of their three-game meltdown at the end of the 2006 season when they travel to Arrowhead Stadium to face the Chiefs on Sunday. If you watched any of the HBO series "Hard Knocks" this year, chances are you chalked this game up as a win based on the way the Chiefs looked throughout training camp and the pre-season. Larry Johnson reported to camp late after a contract holdout, neither Damon Huard nor Brodie Croyle separated himself as the starting quarterback, and the team had problems scoring points throughout pre-season (just 32 points in 4 games).
The first two games of the season didn't start out much better, with a 20-3
opening loss at Houston followed up by a 20-10 loss at Chicago. They turned
things around in week 3, winning a defensive battle with the Vikings 13-10,
then scored 24 second-half points in week 4 to come from behind and beat the
Chargers 30-16 to even their record at 2-2. The main reason for the turn
around was the play of the defense, buoyed by the return of Jared Allen from
a two-game suspension for multiple drunken-driving convictions.
Allen has been a terror for opposing tackles the last two weeks, accounting
for 10 tackles, 2 sacks, a forced fumble, and 4 passes defended. He plays
with a relentless motor and has proven to be very adept at getting to the
quarterback, notching 29.5 sacks in just over three seasons of play.
Allen will likely line up opposite Khalif Barnes, who has been the better of
the Jaguars two tackles so far this year, but that is provided Barnes plays
in the game. He was involved in an accident on the way to the stadium
Saturday morning for treatment for an injury and police cited him for
violating a provision of his July drunken driving probation that forbids him
from driving except for work.
Barnes told police that he fell asleep behind the wheel when he hit a tree
near his home and instead of reporting the incident, he borrowed a car from
a relative and went to treatment before notifying police. The Jaguars
haven't yet announced if there will be any punishment for Barnes related to
this incident. Maurice Williams, who replaced Barnes in the Denver game,
when Khalif injured his ankle, would likely get the start.
Regardless of who lines up at left tackle on Sunday, they will have to be on
top of their game and ready to battle for 60 minutes against Allen. The
ability to protect David Garrard's blind side and open holes in the running
game will be vital in what figures to be a low-scoring defensive struggle
against the Chiefs.
Looming Large: Jared Allen
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