Kansas City Chiefs: Allen Bailey

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Some quick observations on the Kansas City Chiefs' first full-squad offseason practice:
  • The Chiefs went with veteran Frank Zombo instead of rookie Dee Ford in place of the absent Justin Houston as one of the starters at outside linebacker. Zombo started five games in place of the injured Houston last season and had two sacks and one interception. Marcus Cooper, the Chiefs' rookie of the year last season, started in place of Brandon Flowers at one of the cornerback spots. Houston and Flowers were missing from practice, which is voluntary. The only period during the offseason program with mandatory participation is the minicamp June 17-19.
  • The other new starters on defense were Allen Bailey (for the departed Tyson Jackson) at end, Joe Mays (for the departed Akeem Jordan) at linebacker and Husain Abdullah (for the departed Kendrick Lewis) at free safety.
  • Left tackle Eric Fisher didn't participate in the team portion of practice and tight end Travis Kelce didn't participate at all. Fisher had offseason surgeries to repair a balky shoulder and for a sports hernia and participated in individual drills. Right tackle Donald Stephenson moved into Fisher's spot with Jeff Linkenbach starting in Stephenson's usual place. Kelce, who missed all of his rookie season because of a knee ailment, is not a starter but the Chiefs are hopeful he can play a lot and be a productive receiver .
  • Sanders Commings is for now at least Abdullah's backup. But he showed free safety skills when he covered a lot of ground to intercept a Tyler Bray pass along the sideline.
This week's signing of Cory Grissom brings to 11 the number of defensive linemen under contract to the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs, after losing starting defensive end Tyson Jackson in free agency to the Atlanta Falcons, replaced him by signing Vance Walker away from the Raiders.

Grissom may not wind up making the roster when the regular season begins. He may just be a camp guy. The Chiefs could always use the depth but even without him they look like they have enough bodies on their defensive line.

In that regard, much depends on Walker. If he can be more than Jackson was and contribute as a pass-rusher, the Chiefs will be in great shape. Already, their line in the base defense looks good with Walker and Mike DeVito, who had a very good season as a run defender last season, as their ends and Pro Bowler Dontari Poe at nose tackle.

The Chiefs also have three intriguing players as their backups. One is Allen Bailey. Bailey has pass rush skills but also has played well at end when given a chance in their base defense. He's capable of more than the Chiefs have given him.

The others are Mike Catapano and Jaye Howard. Catapano showed more pass rush ability last season as a rookie than should be expected from a seventh-round draft pick from Princeton. He may never become an every-down player but could eventually help the Chiefs as a pass-rusher, perhaps as soon as this season.

"With regards to Catapano, he's been here day in and day out,'' general manager John Dorsey recently said. "He's been working his butt off. The guy is driven. He's one of those relentless warriors you want on your team. I'm excited to see him contribute as we go forward here in the second season for him. I've always said all along that those guys make the greatest strides in year one to year two and I can see great strides coming from Catapano.''

Howard is one of the seven players the Chiefs grabbed off waivers at the start of last season. He came from the Seattle Seahawks. Howard played little during the season, but the Chiefs thought enough of him to carry Howard all season on their active roster. The Seahawks drafted him in the fourth round in 2012 after he had a successful collegiate career at Florida.
It was a hectic week for the Kansas City Chiefs this week as the free-agent signing period began. They lost five players who were regulars at some point last year (wide receiver Dexter McCluster, defensive end Tyson Jackson and offensive linemen Branden Albert, Jon Asamoah and Geoff Schwartz) but signed three players from other teams (linebacker Joe Mays, defensive lineman Vance Walker and offensive lineman Jeff Linkenbach) and re-signed two of their own free agents, reserve linebacker Frank Zombo and backup safety Husain Abdullah.

Now, in this week's Twitter mailbag, we're looking ahead, in some cases toward 2015.

Free-agent report: DE Tyson Jackson

February, 24, 2014
Feb 24
General manager John Dorsey and coach Andy Reid desperately need our opinion, so we're going to help them out over the next couple of weeks. We'll take a look at the 10 top prospective Kansas City Chiefs free agents, one each day, and examine the reasons for re-signing them and those for letting them loose on the open market. Then we'll look at how the situation should play out. We'll start with the first player drafted by former general manager Scott Pioli.

DE Tyson Jackson

Five NFL seasons, five with the Chiefs. Will be 28 when next season begins.

Chiefs career: Jackson was the third overall pick in the 2009 draft but has never played up to that standard. Jackson was drafted to fill a need when the Chiefs required some defensive ends to play in what was their new 3-4 defense. Jackson's first three seasons were largely a waste. He started in two of them mainly because the Chiefs were trying to justify the pick and they had no one better. Jackson's play picked up in 2012 and again last season to the point where on running downs Jackson was a solid player. He also had a career-high four sacks.

Argument for keeping Jackson: He will never be a star but Jackson last season showed he can be a productive player. He has been for the most part durable, missing six games in five seasons. It seems a shame to give up on him just as he seems to be finding his game. He's heading into the prime seasons of his career.

Argument for letting Jackson go: Jackson played mainly on running downs, or less than half of the defensive snaps last season. Despite his career-high in sacks, he never developed as a pass-rusher to the point the Chiefs hoped. They have a part-time defensive end in Mike DeVito, who played on running downs on the other side of the line from Jackson. The Chiefs have an available replacement in Allen Bailey, who has shown more pass-rush skills than Jackson.

What should happen: The Chiefs shouldn't give Jackson a big contract. They did that once out of necessity when he was picked near the top of the draft and he's hogged a disproportionate amount of their salary cap ever since. He's worth bringing back at the right price but not at a cost they're not comfortable with. If he leaves, the Chiefs can either play Bailey or a draft pick and perhaps get as much production at a more reasonable price.

Rookie report: DE Mike Catapano

February, 14, 2014
Feb 14
DE Mike Catapano

How acquired: 2013 seventh-round draft pick.

2013 season: Catapano initially began his NFL career as an outside linebacker but after going through the offseason practices the Chiefs moved him to defensive end. He played a surprising number of defensive snaps, 89, for a rookie seventh-round draft pick from an Ivy League school, Princeton. He showed some pass rush ability at times and had one sack.

Looking ahead: At 270 pounds, Catapano is undersized to be a regular at defensive end. He’ll need to put on some weight if he’s ever going to be part of the playing rotation. His role in 2014 could be determined by what happens with one of last season’s starting ends, Tyson Jackson. He is a prospective free agent and if he leaves, the Chiefs may draft or sign his replacement. They also have Allen Bailey as the top reserve who could step in for Jackson. Regardless, Catapano looked last season like he was a long way from being ready to contribute on an every-down basis. He does have some pass rush skills but he may never become anything more than a situational pass-rusher.

No room for their own free agents?

February, 11, 2014
Feb 11
The Kansas City Chiefs were over the NFL’s estimated 2014 salary limit by about $2 million last week, before they released veteran cornerback Dunta Robinson. Now that Robinson’s gone, the Chiefs are under the estimated cap of about $126 million, but not by much.

They will find enough wiggle room as they move along to sign their draft picks and dabble in free agency as well. But this will be a different year for the Chiefs than they’ve had for some time as far as offseason spending. Last year, for example, they re-signed wide receiver Dwayne Bowe to a lucrative, long-term contract, made left tackle Branden Albert their franchise player at a hefty price tag, picked up a big salary when they traded for quarterback Alex Smith and then forked over significant cash in signing free agents like cornerback Sean Smith, defensive lineman Mike DeVito, tight end Anthony Fasano, wide receiver Donnie Avery and backup quarterback Chase Daniel.

So, yes, things will be different for the Chiefs this year. There may be no room for some of their own free agents. The Chiefs appear to be grooming Sanders Commings, a rookie last season who will make the minimum salary in 2014, to replace Kendrick Lewis at free safety. The Chiefs signed CFL veteran wide receiver/kick returner Weston Dressler, also at the minimum, perhaps to replace Dexter McCluster. The Chiefs might make an effort to re-sign defensive end Tyson Jackson, but if he’s too expensive the Chiefs have Allen Bailey ready to step in.

Albert is perhaps the most productive player of the bunch. He was a Pro Bowler last season, a more than capable left tackle.

But the Chiefs drafted tackle Eric Fisher last year with the first overall pick anticipating this scenario. Fisher can move to the left side and the Chiefs have Donald Stephenson, who they believe is a capable starter, to play right tackle.

Albert wants to be paid a premium salary and there’s no shame in that. If he’s ever going to get a huge long-term contract, it’s going to be at this time of his career.

He’s just not going to get it from the Chiefs. In that respect, he could be like a lot of his teammates who are prospective free agents. He could be playing for another team next season, perhaps even against the Chiefs.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs roster series moves on to the defensive line, where the Chiefs may part with a former first-round draft pick.

The roster (10): Chas Alecxih, Allen Bailey, Mike Catapano, Mike DeVito, Dominique Hamilton, Jaye Howard, Tyson Jackson, Brandon Moore, Dontari Poe, Jerrell Powe.

Potential 2014 free agents: Jackson, Powe.

The position: The Chiefs received a Pro Bowl season from Poe at nose tackle and very good seasons from DeVito and Jackson, at least in their run defense. But Jackson, their No. 1 pick in 2009, could be an unrestricted free agent. He would be nice to retain because Jackson has value. But since he hasn’t been an every-down player and the Chiefs don’t think of him in that term, they don’t need to bust their budget to re-sign him. If Jackson signs with another team, the Chiefs have a decision about how to replace him. It might be time to give Bailey a shot. He played well against the run and has some pass-rush ability. If Bailey is in their lineup, the Chiefs would have little in the way of proven depth so adding to their numbers at these positions would be essential. The Chiefs need to find a nose tackle they’re comfortable with to provide some relief for Poe. He played a lot of snaps for a 346-pound guy. Powe could be that backup.

The Chiefs should keep: Bailey, Catapano, DeVito, Poe and Powe.

The Chiefs should dump: Alecxih, Hamilton, Howard, Jackson and Moore.

Free agency/draft priority: High if Jackson leaves. The Chiefs wouldn’t necessarily need to spend a lot of money or use a high draft pick, but they would need to make an investment. ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper in his first mock draft of the season has the Chiefs taking Notre Dame defensive end Stephon Tuitt in the first round. If when the draft rolls around Tuitt proves to be a good value when the Chiefs make the 23rd pick, they should take him.
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.

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.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- With two starting defensive linemen injured and not practicing on Wednesday, the Kansas City Chiefs wasted no time in getting newly acquired Kyle Love into the playing mix.

The Chiefs are looking at Love, signed as a free agent on Tuesday, mostly as nose tackle relief for Dontari Poe. But he could wind up getting some snaps at end on Sunday against the San Diego Chargers at Arrowhead Stadium.

Neither Mike DeVito (sprained knee) nor Tyson Jackson (strained abdomen) practiced on Wednesday. If one player or both isn’t available against the Chargers, Love could get some of their snaps, along with Allen Bailey.

“He’s done both,’’ coach Andy Reid said of Love, who started 25 games over the past two seasons for the Patriots. “In New England they kind of moved him back and forth.

“He’s got playing experience, which helps.’’

Love has Type 2 diabetes but said the medical condition is under control and won’t present him any problems. The Chiefs, after examining Love on Tuesday, agreed.

"[Trainer Rick Burkholder] and our docs felt that wasn’t an issue right now,’’ Reid said. “His weight had been up and it was an issue but he’s got that under control."