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Leadership will come from unusual places

1/1/2014

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The 53 members of the Kansas City Chiefs don’t have a wealth of playoff experience. Quarterback Alex Smith started a couple of games in the postseason for the San Francisco 49ers two years ago.

Other key players like wide receivers Dwayne Bowe and Dexter McCluster and running back Jamaal Charles were with the Chiefs in 2010 for their playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens.

Other long-timers like linebackers Tamba Hali and Derrick Johnson were also around for the 2006 playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts.

But the guys with the most playoff experience acquired it elsewhere. Safety Quintin Demps played in seven playoff games for the Eagles and Texans, defensive end Mike DeVito six with the Jets, linebacker Akeem Jordan five with the Eagles.

“I think [playoff experience] does help,’’ DeVito said. “I think you’ve been through it and everything is taken up a notch. The speed, the crowd, all of that stuff is a little bit higher in the playoffs, especially as you go on. So, yeah, that experience does help, knowing what is coming.”

So the Chiefs this week might find their leadership in different places as they continue to prepare for Saturday’s wild-card playoff game against the Colts in Indianapolis. Demps is a nickel safety and kickoff returner. DeVito and Jordan are starters but come out of the lineup on passing downs.

But it’s imperative they share their wisdom this week. DeVito, for instance, lines up next to young nose tackle Dontari Poe, who will be making his playoff debut on Saturday.

“We’ve been talking about it now for a couple of weeks, like what it’s going to be like and just sharing about the speed of the game and how everything ramps up. But ... Poe, he’s not really a slow guy, so I don’t think he’ll have any issue. We just continue to share that.

“That’s really all you can say, how much more exciting it is and the speed and how it picks up.”

DeVito also has playoff experience at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

“I actually have had the blessing of playing in Indy twice in the playoffs,’’ he said. “I know that the atmosphere there is fun. I played the AFC Championship [Game] there in 2009 and then the wild-card round in 2010 and it’s wild. It’s going to be wild. They have great fans out there, so it is going to be a challenge for us. It’s a loud, really loud place, loud stadium.’’