How will Dexter McCluster and the other Kansas City rookies fare in Cleveland after impressive debuts?
The Chiefs' rookies: The talk of the AFC West this week is the Chiefs’ rookie class. What will they do Sunday at Cleveland? Second-round pick Dexter McCluster returned a punt for a 94-yard touchdown against San Diego. It was a team record. Fellow second-round pick Javier Arenas had two big returns himself. Their third-round pick, tight end Tony Moeaki, caught a touchdown pass and first-round pick Eric Berry played solidly, even though he was had by superstar tight end Antonio Gates a couple of times. This group has the makings of being special and if the Chiefs are a legitimate team, these rookies will have something to do with it.
Can Rivers bounce back? The impact of Vincent Jackson's absence from San Diego's 21-14 loss at Kansas City has been debated this week. There’s no question that quarterback Philip Rivers would have wanted Jackson on the field, especially when Gates, the primary target, was double- or triple-teamed. The San Diego tight end was bottled up in the final series of the game when the Chargers' comeback drive died at the Kansas City 6-yard line with 30 seconds remaining. But let's wait to judge until the Chargers don't have to play in a downpour and until Rivers proves he can't win without Jackson. If the trend continues Sunday against Jacksonville, we can start the talk. But just I don’t see it happening.
Asomugha on the move: Lost in a 25-point loss at Tennessee was Oakland star cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha's movement around the field. The Raiders have been toying with the idea and they finally did it last week. Asomugha shifted depending on the situation and even spent a couple of plays at safety. Asomugha said he enjoyed the freedom and is looking forward to doing it the rest of the season. Gary Horton of Scouts Inc. said this tactic will make Asomugha and the Raiders more dangerous. It’s a terrific way of getting more out of the special Asomugha. Expect the Raiders to try to confuse and exploit young St. Louis quarterback Sam Bradford by moving around Asomugha on Sunday.
Will Tebow get another chance? Denver has been criticized for is decision to use rookie quarterback Tim Tebow during drives in special packages with starter Kyle Orton on the field. Many observers feel their use of Tebow at Jacksonville was forced. Tebow ran the ball twice for two yards. Still, Denver coach Josh McDaniels and Orton both said that the starter’s rhythm was not affected by Tebow’s presence and McDaniels will use Tebow on Sunday against Seattle if he feels the time is right. Horton has said he thinks Tebow can be effective in a Wildcat-type role because he is adept at taking snaps and because he is so big and strong. It didn’t work at Jacksonville, but I don’t expect McDaniels to be deterred.
The Cassel-Haley watch: Kansas City coach Todd Haley has said he doesn’t want people to think he and quarterback Matt Cassel have a poor relationship because they’ve had some animated sideline talks. It isn't the first time Haley has had animated sideline chats. Haley is tough on Cassel, but both the coach and the quarterback appear genuine when they talk about each other. Haley supported Cassel after he threw for only 68 yards in a driving rainstorm against San Diego. He said Cassel did enough to lead the Chiefs to a win. It will be interesting to see how Cassel progresses Sunday at Cleveland.