AFC West: Dontari Poe

Chiefs star in Pro Bowl

January, 27, 2014
Jan 27
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs were represented by 10 players at the Pro Bowl and some figured prominently. A look at how they fared:

-- Linebacker Derrick Johnson was the game's defensive MVP with eight tackles and a forced fumble. He also had a big hit on his Chiefs teammate, running back Jamaal Charles, in the first quarter.

-- Quarterback Alex Smith was just 9-of-22 for 116 yards, but he threw the winning touchdown pass, a 20-yarder to Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray.

-- Charles rushed five times for 43 yards and caught a pass for four yards.

-- Dexter McCluster returned five punts for an 11-yard average, including a 26-yard return.

-- Safety Eric Berry and nose tackle Dontari Poe each had an interception. Berry also had four tackles.

-- Linebacker Tamba Hali and cornerback Brandon Flowers each had a pair of tackles.

-- Linebacker Justin Houston registered no stats. Neither did offensive tackle Branden Albert, but he had a good time nonetheless in his first Pro Bowl game. Albert tweeted afterward, "Hawaii.... I'll see you next year."
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Earlier I posted on the team grade given to the Kansas City Chiefs by Pro Football Focus and how the Chiefs made the second biggest leap from 2012 to 2013 behind only the Carolina Panthers.

Flowers
The Chiefs' big jump was fueled by improved performances from several players. On offense, the grade PFF gave to running back Jamaal Charles went up dramatically from one season to the next. PFF's grade for quarterback Alex Smith in 2013 was vastly improved to that of his 2012 predecessors, Brady Quinn and Matt Cassel.

On defense, the grades for defensive linemen Dontari Poe, Tyson Jackson and Allen Bailey, linebackers Justin Houston and Tamba Hali, and safety Eric Berry were all significantly up from 2012.

A few players had their grades drop. Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and offensive tackle Branden Albert were among them, but neither player had a huge drop.

One player did have a huge drop; cornerback Brandon Flowers. He will participate in the Pro Bowl on Sunday in Hawaii, more of an honor for what he did in previous seasons than how he played in 2013.

Flowers had some dismal games in 2013, none worse than the torching he received against Dez Bryant and the Dallas Cowboys early in the season, and then by the San Diego Chargers halfway through. In fairness to Flowers, he missed a couple of games early in the season because of a sore knee, and it might not have been right the rest of the way.

Still, it's a fact that Flowers didn't play very well, and it's to the point it's natural to wonder about his future with the Chiefs. He's a 5-foot-9, 187-pound player on a team that now prefers bigger cornerbacks. It's more than a little telling that the Chiefs used Flowers to cover the slot receiver in their nickel defense as the season went on.

Flowers has a big contract (he counts $10.5 million against the Chiefs' 2014 salary cap) and he might not be the best fit for a team that requires it's cornerbacks to play so much one-on-one coverage.

It might be a mistake for the Chiefs to give up on Flowers, who turns 28 next month. Flowers has played well in seasons past, and though he's a little guy, but doesn't usually play like one. He's not afraid to stick his nose into the running game.

But in a division with big receivers like Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Keenan Allen, Rod Streater and Andre Holmes, it's a fair question: Is Flowers right for the Chiefs?

It will be interesting to see in the coming months what general manager John Dorsey and coach Andy Reid think.

Arrow indicates direction team is trending.

Final Power Ranking: 10
Preseason Power Ranking: 19

Biggest surprise: The Chiefs plucked rookie cornerback Marcus Cooper, a seventh-round draft pick of the San Francisco 49ers, off waivers to start the regular season. Cooper played better than the Chiefs had a right to expect for a long stretch of the season as the third cornerback. He had a rough stretch late in the season before bouncing back at the end. At 6-foot-2 and 192 pounds, Cooper has the size to match up with the league's bigger receivers. Cooper projects as nothing less than the Chiefs' third cornerback next season and could eventually become a starter.

Biggest disappointment: Offensive tackle Eric Fisher was the first overall pick in the draft last year but rarely played like it. The Chiefs used Fisher on the right side, and he initially had trouble making the transition. He also had trouble avoiding nagging injuries, which caused him to miss four games, including the playoff loss to Indianapolis. Fisher should eventually develop into the kind of player the Chiefs envisioned. He showed great athletic skills that will help him reach his potential. Fisher was usually unable to anchor against a strong pass rush and that's where many of his problems occurred. A year in Kansas City's strength program will benefit Fisher greatly.

Biggest need: The Chiefs need a fast wide receiver to energize their passing game. They gambled by giving Dwayne Bowe a lucrative long-term contract last offseason, but Bowe didn't play like a No. 1 wide receiver until the playoff loss to the Colts. Bowe will turn 30 next season, so if nothing else, it's time for the Chiefs to plan for someone else to step into that top receiver's role. The Chiefs have a couple of fast wide receivers in Donnie Avery and A.J. Jenkins. While Avery delivered some big plays, he dropped too many passes and disappeared too many times. Jenkins hasn't been able to establish himself as a consistent threat.

Team MVP: The Chiefs have at least a couple of defensive candidates but the better choice is running back Jamaal Charles. He supplied much of Kansas City's offensive production, particularly early in the season when the offense around him frequently sputtered. Charles led the league in touchdowns and expanded his game to become a much more dangerous pass-catcher. Coach Andy Reid and his offensive staff did a much better job of getting Charles matched up against linebackers in the open field, and he rewarded them with a number of big plays. If the Chiefs had not lost five of their final seven regular-season games, Charles would have been a strong candidate for league MVP.

All-AFC West: Kansas City Chiefs

January, 2, 2014
Jan 2
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NFC Teams: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South


KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs were appropriately honored with nine players on ESPN’s All-AFC West team.

Each of the nine players deserves his spot on the all-division team. No strong argument could be made for any Chiefs player who didn’t make the team.

Running back Jamaal Charles and left tackle Branden Albert were the offensive players selected. Charles had a strong all-around season, emerging as a legitimate threat as a pass-receiver. Charles beat out some strong competition from Denver’s Knowshon Moreno and San Diego’s Ryan Mathews.

Albert had a solid season despite missing three games late in the year with a knee injury.

On defense, nose tackle Dontari Poe, inside linebacker Derrick Johnson, outside linebackers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston and strong safety Eric Berry were chosen. Poe, Johnson, Houston and Berry may have had their best NFL seasons. Poe was a force against both the run and the pass and was so valuable to the Chiefs that he rarely came out of their lineup.

Johnson and Berry showed outstanding all-around games. Johnson tied his career high in sacks. Berry set a career high in sacks and scored twice on interception returns. Houston was among the NFL leaders in sacks in late November before dislocating his elbow, an injury that forced him out of the lineup for four games.

Hali was among the AFC leaders in sacks.

On special teams, punter Dustin Colquitt and punt returner Dexter McCluster were selected. Colquitt didn’t have the best average in the division but landed a huge percentage of his punts inside the 20, an important statistic for a team that relied on favorable field position.

McCluster scored a touchdown on two punt returns, including an electrifying 89-yarder against the New York Giants.

Kansas City ChiefsDavid Eulitt/Kansas City Star/MCT/Getty ImagesAlex Smith and Jamaal Charles were among the Chiefs starters who sat in advance of the playoffs.

SAN DIEGO -- Linebacker Derrick Johnson won’t wake up on this Monday morning with the normal bumps and bruises, aches and pains. He will feel fresh, like he didn’t even play football on Sunday, which of course he didn’t. Johnson and many of his key Kansas City Chiefs teammates were given the day off.

"It’s going to be great," Johnson said. "I’m going to be moving fast. We’ll be rested and ready to go and we’ll get started on Indy. We know we’ve got a great opportunity to beat a team we didn’t play [well] against a couple of weeks ago. We know if we can play better than we played … this way, it’s going to be an interesting matchup."

Multiply Johnson’s situation by several others, and you understand why coach Andy Reid rested as many of Kansas City’s playmakers as possible and why it was the right thing for the Chiefs to do, even though they finished the regular season on Sunday with a 27-24 overtime loss to the San Diego Chargers.

This game was all about giving them a better chance to win Saturday’s wild-card playoff game against the Colts in Indianapolis. Reid’s move will no doubt do that.

The Chiefs might not beat the Colts. But if they don’t, it won’t be because running back Jamaal Charles didn’t absorb the 20 or more hits he would have against the Chargers, because quarterback Alex Smith didn’t take the two sacks backup Chase Daniel did, because nose tackle Dontari Poe didn't wind up on the bottom of a pile of humanity on each of San Diego’s 72 snaps.

"I look at the positive of it when I do that," said Reid, who had the starters take some snaps in practice during the week. "It gave the guys a week to heal up and rest up and still at the same time get good practice in. If we do meet up again with San Diego then they’ve got that practice time in with a game plan."

It might be tempting to believe Reid’s maneuver cost the Chiefs a victory, but don’t go there. The Chiefs should have won in regulation but failed to finish when Ryan Succop’s 41-yard field goal went wide to the right with four seconds remaining.

Charles, Smith, Johnson, Poe and the rest of Chiefs’ starters lost to San Diego 41-38 last month in Kansas City. So it’s fair to wonder whether the backups didn’t do a better job on Sunday than the starters might have.

At any rate, the Chiefs had nothing to lose. They were destined, win or lose, to be a wild-card playoff entrant and the No. 5 seed. Wild-card teams don’t get a playoff bye, like the Chiefs would have had they won the AFC West. So Reid created a bye for them.

Among the starters who did not play were left tackle Branden Albert and linebacker Justin Houston. They were injured but would have hurried back to play for the first time in weeks if not for Reid’s decision.

Instead, they had another week to get ready for the Colts.

"That’s one way of looking at it," Reid said about giving these players a bye. "There were a couple of guys with a lot of snaps under their belt like Jamaal and [strong safety Eric] Berry. These guys have been playing and they play physical positions. They had a chance to rest up. It gave Albert and Houston another week to heal up. They’re both ready to go but it gave them a chance to have one more week.

"That’s all for the good."

What the Chiefs did is forfeit any chance at building some momentum for the playoffs. In their last game heading into the postseason, on Dec. 22, the starters played their worst game of the season in losing to, yes, the Colts 23-7 at Arrowhead Stadium.

But that goal is and was secondary to the one the Chiefs accomplished Sunday.

"We’re wiping the slate clean now," Smith said. "It’s a brand new season. This game is such a week-to-week thing anyway. [The notion of momentum going into the playoffs] is talked about but not necessarily realistic."

For the Chiefs, the game had an odd, preseason-in-December kind of feel. Smith, not in uniform as one of the inactive players, stood around during pregame warm-ups, searching futilely for a way to be useful.

"So weird," he said. "I was wandering around. I definitely felt out of place."

Likewise, Johnson was inactive and couldn’t have played once the game started.

"I’m on the sideline warming up the whole game," he said. "I didn’t know what to do with myself."

So, some awkward moments for the Chiefs? Sure. But they did what needed to be done and gave themselves a better chance at postseason success because of it.

"It’s not so much for the quarterback, but some of these guys who play the really physical positions and bang a lot during the game," Smith said. "That’s what’s most important. Come tomorrow, those guys won’t have all the dings and things that do go on in a game. They’ll be fresh and be ready."

Pro Bowl selections: Kansas City Chiefs

December, 27, 2013
12/27/13
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs put an impressive eight players into this year's Pro Bowl but one who didn't get selected could be among the year's biggest snubs.

Inside linebacker Derrick Johnson is having perhaps his best NFL season, but isn't among the eight Chiefs going to Hawaii for the Pro Bowl. Those eight are running back Jamaal Charles, offensive tackle Branden Albert, nose tackle Dontari Poe, outside linebackers Justin Houston and Tamba Hali, cornerback Brandon Flowers, strong safety Eric Berry and punt returner Dexter McCluster.

Johnson leads the Chiefs in tackles, an unofficial statistic, with 107. He also tied his career high in sacks with 4.5.

Statistics don't tell Johnson's complete story. He is a down-to-down presence for the Chiefs and his game hasn't slipped even as that of the defense around him deteriorated over the season's last half.

Punter Dustin Colquitt also deserved consideration. Colquitt doesn't have one of league's best averages but he's tied for most punts downed inside the 20 (35), an important statistic playing for a team that depends heavily on favorable field position.

Other than Flowers, it's difficult to argue with any of the eight players who did reach the Pro Bowl. Charles is having perhaps his best NFL season, having developed as a legitimate receiving threat. Albert is having a solid season as the blindside pass protector for quarterback Alex Smith.

Poe has been a force against both the run and the pass and is so valuable to the Chiefs that he rarely comes out of the game. Hali and Houston both have 11 sacks. Berry has been strong against the run and returned an interception for a touchdown two times. McCluster returned two punts for touchdowns, including an electrifying 89-yarder in September against the New York Giants.

Flowers' selection is odd. He isn't having one of his best seasons. The Chiefs often leave him alone in man-to-man coverage and he hasn't done a great job of holding up under the pressure.

Click here for the complete Pro Bowl roster.

Upon Further Review: Chiefs Week 16

December, 23, 2013
12/23/13
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- An examination of four hot issues from the Kansas City Chiefs' 23-7 loss to the Indianapolis Colts:

Preseason in December: Next Sunday's final regular-season game against the San Diego Chargers in San Diego is now meaningless to the Chiefs. Since the Denver Broncos won Sunday, the Chiefs have been eliminated from any chance of winning the AFC West championship or getting a first-round playoff bye. The Chiefs also cannot fall below the fifth seed in the AFC playoffs. In that case, the smart thing for coach Andy Reid to do is rest key players such as quarterback Alex Smith and running back Jamaal Charles. Reid, though, wasn't saying how he would handle the game. "I haven’t even gotten that far. I wasn't anticipating this right here," Reid said after the Colts game. There's something to be said for heading into the playoffs with some momentum, although that's not worth the risk of losing a star player such as Smith or Charles. "To a certain extent, I think you you want to have some rhythm, a good taste in your mouth headed into the playoffs," Smith said.

Poe
Poe's meltdown: Nose tackle Dontari Poe is normally mild-mannered and quiet, seen but not heard. That's what made his taunting penalty so unusual. He was penalized after the Chiefs stopped the Colts on a third-down play in the third quarter. The penalty allowed the Colts to continue a drive that eventually ended with a field goal. Poe said after the game that he couldn't remember what he said to get the penalty. "There's no excuse for that," Reid said. "He knows that. He's a smart kid, and that's not his M.O."

Injury update: Outside linebacker Tamba Hali entered the game with some soreness in his knee, and he left the game in the fourth quarter after it swelled. He was scheduled for an MRI. Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe took a shot that left him with a sore neck, although he was able to remain in the game. The Chiefs played without two injured starters, outside linebacker Justin Houston and offensive tackle Branden Albert. While it was obvious during the week Albert wouldn't be available against the Colts because of a sore knee, it appeared Houston's dislocated elbow had healed to the point that he could play. But Houston missed his fourth consecutive game.

Robinson in for Cooper: The Chiefs made a change at nickel back, replacing beleaguered rookie Marcus Cooper with veteran Dunta Robinson. There was no indication the change is permanent, and Cooper could be back in the lineup for next week's game against the Chargers.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Nose tackle Dontari Poe has been as close to an iron man as the Kansas City Chiefs have seen from one of their defensive linemen in a long time. The 346-pound Poe has rarely come out of the lineup this season, a testament to his physical conditioning as well as his value to the Chiefs.

Poe
This week’s signing of Jerrell Powe could be aimed at providing some rest for Poe on running downs. The 331-pound Powe is more capable of holding the nose than Anthony Toribio and Kyle Love, two defensive linemen the Chiefs had on their roster this season.

Both have since been released.

“Jerrell is a pure nose guard,’’ coach Andy Reid said. “That’s kind of his deal. We have had some guys in here that I thought were good football players [but they] were probably more [defensive ends] than pure nose. He gives you the flexibility of giving Dontari in our base look a rest. [General manager John Dorsey] thought that was important and we’re on board with that. We understand.

“He’s somebody the coaches feel comfortable with.’’

The Chiefs on Sunday are facing the Redskins in Washington. The Redskins lead the league in rushing, so the Chiefs could be spending more time in their base defense on Sunday than they normally do.

That base defense could include some of Powe and less of Poe than usual.

“We’ll see how it goes,’’ Reid said. “That base unit is going to play a little bit this week. Their run game is the best in the National Football League, so they’re going to play a little bit.’’
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Judging from the latest count of fan voting, the Kansas City Chiefs will again have a bunch of players headed to the Pro Bowl.

Tackle Branden Albert, nose tackle Dontari Poe, outside linebacker Tamba Hali and punter Dustin Colquitt lead the balloting at their respective positions. Running back Jamaal Charles, guard Jeff Allen and safety Eric Berry are second at their positions.

Poe, Berry and Charles, who leads the AFC with 1,011 rushing yards, certainly deserve Pro Bowl recognition. Hali is tied for 11th in the league with nine sacks. Only three linebackers have more, one being his injured teammate Justin Houston, who has 11.

Colquitt doesn't have quite the numbers he had last season, when he made the Pro Bowl for the first time. But he still leads the NFL with 31 punts downed inside the 20. Don't underestimate how important that's been for a 9-3 team that relies on advantageous field position.

As for those not in the top two at their positions who might deserve recognition, how about Houston, who is fourth in the league in sacks?

Then there's Derrick Johnson, who has made two straight trips to the Pro Bowl but in my mind still doesn't get the recognition he's due. Johnson doesn't pile up the stats voters often look for (interceptions, sacks, fumbles), but he is as solid an inside linebacker as there is in the league.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Given the way he played during the preseason, nose tackle Jerrell Powe looked like he would make the Kansas City Chiefs' regular season roster as a backup to Dontari Poe. So it was a surprise shortly before the start of the regular season when Powe was released.

The Chiefs changed their mind on Powe Tuesday when he was re-signed. They released defensive tackle Kyle Love, who had only joined the Chiefs last month. Love was a healthy scratch for last week's game against the Denver Broncos.

The Chiefs can't have big plans for Powe, not the way they use Poe. He rarely comes out of the game, so Powe may have little or nothing to do unless Poe is injured. Powe could even be inactive for Sunday's game against the Redskins in Washington.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Sunday's workload was, relatively speaking, a light one for Kansas City Chiefs nose tackle Dontari Poe. He spent exactly two of the Denver Broncos' 70 offensive plays on the sideline.

Poe
That's a huge workload for every other defensive lineman of his size, which is roughly 345 pounds. But for Poe it's nothing. He has played on every defensive snap in four of the Chiefs' games this season, including an amazing 80-for-80 in recent back-to back games against the Buffalo Bills and Broncos.

Poe has been in the lineup for 95 percent of Kansas City's defensive plays.

"I can't imagine that there's that many players of his size that don't come out of the game very often," defensive coordinator Bob Sutton said.

Poe is probably the only one, in fact. It says two things about Poe, one being his superb physical conditioning. Poe said he has greatly improved his diet, something he credits for his iron man defensive status.

But it also speaks to Poe's value to the Chiefs. He's still playing well, as are a couple of his defensive teammates, linebacker Derrick Johnson and safety Eric Berry. But as the play of Kansas City's cornerbacks have declined and their pass rush has stalled, it's becoming obvious that Poe is their most valuable player, at least on the defensive side.

"He has played a lot of snaps," coach Andy Reid said. "He's a tough one to substitute (for) because he wants to be out there every snap. He doesn't want to come out of the game. He enjoys playing.

"I don't see anything where he's fatigued at this point. He's maintained his play level and he's been healthy and he enjoys the role he's been in."

Broncos-Chiefs matchup of the day

November, 15, 2013
11/15/13
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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Former long-time Broncos defensive coordinator Joe Collier, who happens to be one of the leading authorities on the 3-4 defense, once said the most important player in the formation is the player folks may talk about the least.

The player right in the middle of the action.

"You just can't play it with without the nose tackle," Collier has said. "Until you get that guy you're not going to be able to do all of the things you're going to need to do to stop people."

The NFL's No. 1 scoring defense at the moment, the Kansas City Chiefs, have that guy and the Broncos are going to see Dontari Poe up close and personal Sunday night. And after a rookie season in 2012 when Poe occasionally flashed his immense talent, he has arrived this season and helped power the Chiefs through their 9-0 start.

"(I) noticed him last year, know he was still kind of learning that system as an NFL player," said Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase. "He's really made some strides, he's a tough matchup for our offensive line."

For a team that currently leads the league in scoring defense (12.3) and sacks (36) Poe has been one of the most disruptive, hard-to-handle players for opposing offenses because of his size/speed/quickness combination. He has five tackles for loss on the interior to go with 4.5 sacks. During his final season at the University of Memphis, people saw Poe's athleticism, his potential. But they also saw a player who had just one sack in 2011 and was 11th on his team in tackles.

But then Poe, at 6-4, 346 pounds went to the NFL's scouting combine in the week leading up to the 2012 draft and uncorked a 40-yard dash in 4.98 seconds on the electronic clock -- a run that was hand-timed by more than one scout at 4.99. He also powered up 225 pounds in the bench-press stop 44 times.

Now he is the anchor in the middle of the Chiefs' 3-4, the guy who demands attention in the heart of the formation so Kansas City's edge rushers can find more room to work. And work they have as outside linebacker Justin Houston leads the team with 11 sacks and outside linebacker Tamba Hali has 9.0 sacks to go with an interception return for a touchdown and a fumble return for a touchdown.

That consistent pressure up the middle, the kind Poe and the rest of the Chiefs three-man defensive front provides, is always a way to create turnovers and on the to-do list for a team like the Chiefs with five touchdowns on defense already this season.

Broncos center Manny Ramirez, who has played through a sore left knee of late, will battle Poe much of the time. Ramirez is a tough player who thrives in the power game. But to get anything going in the run game and to give quarterback Peyton Manning the room he needs to step up and throw, Ramirez will have to handle Poe.

The more help -- especially when the Broncos are in a three-wide receiver look with tight end Julius Thomas lined up in the slot or outside -- the Broncos have to give to Ramirez means the less help available against the Chiefs' edge rushers.

It will be a key tipping point in the game.

Friday's Chiefs practice report

October, 18, 2013
10/18/13
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs could have their entire roster available to them in Sunday's game against the Houston Texans at Arrowhead Stadium. Starting free safety Kendrick Lewis (ankle) returned to practice on a limited basis and was listed on their injury report as having a 50-50 chance to play.

The other 12 players on their report were listed as probable. That includes cornerback Brandon Flowers (knee) and tight end Anthony Fasano (ankle/knee). Both were listed as being limited practice participants on Friday.

Everyone else on their injury report was listed as a full practice participant: wide receiver Donnie Avery (shoulder), offensive linemen Branden Albert (knee/elbow), Jon Asamoah (knee) and Jeff Allen (groin/hand), nose tackle Dontari Poe (ankle), fullback Anthony Sherman (knee), punter Dustin Colquitt (knee), tight end Kevin Brock (shoulder), linebacker Dezman Moses (toe) and defensive lineman Jaye Howard (non-injury related).
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Rookie defensive back Sanders Commings, who has been on the Kansas City Chiefs' injured-reserve list all season, practiced for the first time on Wednesday.

The promotion of Commings, a fifth-round draft pick from Georgia, to the active roster, appears inevitable, with the only question being the timing of the move. Commings was a nickel safety for the Chiefs during offseason practice and would have challenged for playing time had he not broken his collarbone during the first practice at training camp.

The Chiefs are deep in the secondary, with the emergence of rookie cornerback Marcus Cooper and veteran safeties Quintin Demps and Husain Abdullah, but the return of Commings would provide even more security at the back end of their defense.

Starting tight end Anthony Fasano, who has missed the last four games because of knee and ankle injuries, returned to practice on a limited basis and said that barring a setback he would play Sunday against the Houston Texans at Arrowhead Stadium.

The only player who did not practice was starting free safety Kendrick Lewis (ankle). The only other player who was limited in practice was cornerback Brandon Flowers (knee).

The Chiefs listed nine players as full practice participants: tackle Branden Albert (knee/elbow), nose tackle Dontari Poe (ankle), guard Jeff Allen (groin/hand), guard Jon Asamoah (knee), wide receiver Donnie Avery (shoulder), tight end Kevin Brock (shoulder), fullback Anthony Sherman (knee), punter Dustin Colquitt (knee) and linebacker Dezman Moses (toe).

Depth makes Chiefs pass rush special

October, 16, 2013
10/16/13
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- When Gary Kubiak was a reserve quarterback for the Denver Broncos, he prepared to play against a Kansas City Chiefs pass rush that included Derrick Thomas and Neil Smith.

Some years later, Kubiak as coach of the Houston Texans is preparing a team to play against a Chiefs pass rush that also features premier edge pass rushers, but other key components as well.

“It’s impressive,’’ said Kubiak, who brings the Texans to Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday. “When you get 10 [sacks] in one game, it’s kind of hard to say, ‘We’ve got to block that guy.’ That’s what’s so impressive. Andy (Reid) has got such a quality team thing going on right now. That’s what good teams do. Production comes from everywhere, not one or two places. You could just see the energy they’re (playing with).’’

The Chiefs, taking advantage of a tattered opposing offensive line, sacked Oakland Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor 10 times in last week’s victory. Seven different players had at least a half-sack.

The edge pass rushers, Justin Houston (9.5 sacks) and Tamba Hali (7.5), are among the league leaders. But even taking them out of the equation, the Chiefs have 14 sacks from eight players, so they come at opposing quarterbacks from a lot of different places and angles. Nose tackle Dontari Poe has 4.5 sacks and is generating consistent push up the middle.

When the Chiefs set the club record of 60 sacks in 1990, 29.5 came from Thomas and Smith. Those Chiefs had nine other players with at least one sack.

“They’re special because they’re so balanced as a defense,’’ Kubiak said. “Both edge (pass rushers) and the nose guard (are) just playing huge for them. They’re very aggressive in their approach. You get yourself in tough third-down situations and you’re going to have a tough time holding up, not only with the things they do defensively but with the noise putting an added burden on you as a football team.’’

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