- Bill Williamson, ESPN Staff Writer
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Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 1:
The Chiefs hope to kick off New Arrowhead Stadium right: The Chiefs are one of the most proud and tradition-rich franchises in football. They put a lot of pride in the renovation of the already terrific Arrowhead Stadium. The stadium has caught up to the modern homes in today’s NFL with all the bells and whistles. The Chiefs hope the product on the field is renovated as well. They will get a chance to show off their shiny, new toys on "Monday Night Football" against San Diego. The Chiefs are improved, especially on offense, and they have a sweet rookie class. The team would love nothing more than kicking off the New Arrowhead era with an upset win over the four-time defending division champion Chargers.
Is Ryan Clady ready for action? The last time we saw the Denver All-Pro left tackle, about a month ago, he was struggling walking up a short flight of stairs. Now he is preparing to play one of the toughest positions in the NFL. Clady is expected to play at Jacksonville on Sunday, less than five months after having surgery on his patella tendon on his left knee after being injured while playing pickup basketball. Clady’s only preseason action was in a limited role at Minnesota. Clady looked rusty and was beaten a few times by average players. In a sense, it is a big victory for Clady to be on the verge of playing in the season opener. Still, how long will it take him to become the dominant player he has been in his first two NFL seasons?
The Raiders hope to handle Chris Johnson: The Raiders have been discussing and focusing on Johnson for weeks. Coaches mention him by name in practice. There is no doubt what Oakland’s primary focus will be Sunday at Tennessee: containing Johnson. Oakland’s run defense has been in shambles the past couple of seasons. Even though Oakland’s defense has looked good in the preseason, the run defense had issues this summer as well. Johnson is an unforgiving player. He has made good run defenses suffer. If Oakland, which added rookies Rolando McClain and Lamarr Houston with designs on improving the run defense, can contain Johnson, it has a chance to win this game.
The Chargers can make us forget holdouts: Many league observers believe the Chargers will take a step or two backward without Pro Bowl receiver Vincent Jackson and standout left tackle Marcus McNeill. Both players are holding out with no end in sight. San Diego will show what it has without the two top offensive players on "Monday Night Football" in Kansas City. The Chargers can make a statement to the league with a strong showing. San Diego has good depth and its offense was clicking in the preseason. It heads into this game with plenty of confidence and it is not worrying about who is not on the roster. Star quarterback Philip Rivers’ primary target will be tight end Antonio Gates, but the Chargers are confident in young receiver Malcom Floyd, Legedu Naanee and Buster Davis and new veteran option Patrick Crayton. Brandyn Dombrowski is taking over for McNeill, and the Chargers feel like he can protect Rivers’ blindside. If San Diego is at its high-octane best without Jackson and McNeill in Kansas City, it will send a message to both the holdouts and the rest of the league that the Chargers mean business in their current form.
Tim Tebow can make home-town impact: Many people thought the ticket-selling hungry Jaguars would take Jacksonville native and Florida folk hero Tim Tebow in the April draft. If not because of his potential as a quarterback, for his ability to create a buzz about the Jaguars and perhaps even keep the team in town down the road. Yet, Jacksonville bypassed Tebow at No. 10 and didn’t get another chance to select him before Denver traded three picks to take him at No. 25. Still, Tebow will begin his NFL career in his hometown. Will the home folks get a glimpse of Tebow? I bet they do. Denver will use Tebow in some special packages as a rookie.