Kansas City Preview

The storylines are endless. There's the former beloved coach returning to town. There's a host of ex-assistants on their way back too, not to mention a few players who spent time there. On the other side, there's the veteran quarterback in a new city, facing his former team.

It could be interesting. Too bad it's just a preseason opener and means nothing, at least in the standings.

But such are the subplots when the Redskins visit Kansas City for the preseason opener. Both teams underwent severe changes after last season, which, of course, they both needed.

Many of Washington's new faces seemed to have come from Kansas City, starting with former Chiefs' coach Marty Schottenheimer, who spent 10 seasons there, guiding them to seven playoff appearances and three AFC West titles. Then there's his brother, Kurt, who also coached there as did offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye, special teams coach Mike Stock, offensive line coach Joe Pendry and quarterbacks coach Brian Schottenheimer.

Marty Schottenheimer resigned as Kansas City's coach following the 1998 season, but his brother, Raye and Stock stuck around for the failed Gunther Cunningham regime. Also, Redskins linebacker coach Greg Manusky is a former Chief.

The Redskins also have several ex-Chiefs on their roster, including fullback Donnell Bennett, who has the inside track for the starting job, and receiver Kevin Lockett, who will be the No. 3 receiver at worst.

The Chiefs drafted Bennett in the second round in 1994 and he started 15 games for them the past seven seasons, rushing for a total of 1,902 yards and catching 51 passes. Last season, Bennett missed nine games because of injuries. But, two years ago, he rushed for a career-best 627 yards.

Lockett left Kansas City because he wanted to be more than a fourth receiver. A second-round pick in 1997, Lockett caught 86 passes with the Chiefs, including 67 the past two seasons.

The changes in Kansas City, coming off a 7-9 season, were equally grand, again starting with the people in charge. Former Rams coach Dick Vermeil was hired and one of his major tasks will be to instill discipline in a team not noted for it the past two seasons (the Chiefs were the second-most penalized team in the AFC last year).

The Chiefs lost quarterback Elvis Grbac as a free agent to Baltimore, but Vermeil found a replacement he, and Redskins fans, know well: Trent Green, who spent five seasons in Washington and one with Vermeil in St. Louis. Green's surgically repaired knee has held up well early in camp, though he was unable to practice much in the offseason.

Green has at least two tempting targets to throw to in tight end Tony Gonzalez and receiver Derrick Alexander. Both are coming off superb seasons: Gonzalez, a huge target at 6-foot-4, 249 pounds, led all tight ends with 93 receptions for 1,203 yards and nine touchdowns. Alexander ranked 11th in the AFC with 78 receptions for 1,391 yards and 10 touchdowns. Those two are a main reason Kansas City ranked eighth in offense last season, including fifth in passing.

After that, Kansas City's offense is loaded with questions. The Chiefs other top receiver, Sylvester Morris, injured his knee in the offseason and is out for the season. Veteran Derrick Mayes, a free-agent pickup after Morris' injury, and rookie third-round pick Marvin Minnis are competing for the No. 2 receiver's job.

Former Redskin special teamer Chris Thomas also is a backup wideout. One interesting receiver to watch is rookie J.J. Moses, who is only 5-foot-6.

Kansas City also lacks one true running back as Priest Holmes and Tony Richardson will split duties. Holmes, a free-agent signee, will play in three-receiver sets while Richardson, who is more of a fullback, will play in two tight-end sets. Richardson led the Chiefs with 697 yards rushing in 2000, averaging 4.7 yards per carry.

Defensively, another former Redskin is battling for a starting job. Middle linebacker Marvcus Patton, who started four seasons in Washington, is being pushed by Mike Maslowski.

The Chiefs' defensive line is their strength with ends Eric Hicks (14 sacks in 13 games in 2000) and Duane Clemons (7 1/2 sacks in 12 games). But defensive tackle Dan Williams is still recovering from foot surgery and had not practiced during the first week of training camp. Kansas City lacks depth along the line. Nor do the Chiefs, who ranked 18th in defense, have much star power in the secondary, one change from Schottenheimer's regime.


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