Kansas City Chiefs: Dustin Colquitt

Here’s a breakdown of the Kansas City Chiefs’ salary-cap picture on defense and special teams. In an earlier post I broke down their salary-cap situation on offense.

Defensive ends

Salary-cap commitments: $6,649,267

Percent of Chiefs’ total cap: 5.1

NFL average: $12,840,629

Chiefs rank on DE spending: 25th among 32 teams

Analysis: The Chiefs are spending only about half of the league average on these positions. For purposes of this discussion, Mike DeVito is labelled as an end because he’s basically a run defender who comes out of the game on passing downs. He makes up most of the Chiefs’ cap spending at this spot with a figure of $4.9 million.

Defensive tackles

Salary-cap commitments: $5,407,274

Percent of Chiefs’ total cap: 4.2

NFL average: $8,979,256

Chiefs rank on DT spending: 22nd among 32 teams

Analysis: The Chiefs are again well below the league average here (about 40 percent below) and that’s counting not only Dontari Poe but Vance Walker as tackles. Poe is still playing under his rookie contract and has a cap number of $3,087,274. That’s only 27th highest among NFL defensive tackles.

Linebackers

Salary-cap commitments: $23,066,768

Percent of Chiefs’ total cap: 17.8

NFL average: $15,526,469

Chiefs rank on LB spending: 5th among 32 teams

Analysis: The Chiefs spend more than 50 percent beyond the league average at linebacker, but they’re getting their money’s worth. Outside linebackers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston and Derrick Johnson on the inside are each working on a string of at least two consecutive Pro Bowl appearances. Hali alone accounts for about half ($11,464,706)of the Chiefs’ cap commitments at this position. Johnson ($4,550,000) and Houston ($1,598,812) are bargains.

Cornerbacks

Salary-cap commitments: $19,886,878

Percent of Chiefs’ total cap: 15.4

NFL average: $12,150,127

Chiefs rank on CB spending: 3rd among 32 teams

Analysis: The Chiefs spend about 67 percent more for their cornerbacks than the NFL average. One starter, Brandon Flowers, has the third-highest salary-cap number for an NFL cornerback ($10,500,000) while the other, Sean Smith, is 16th ($5,750,000). No other Chiefs cornerback has a cap figure above $1 million.

Safeties

Salary-cap commitments: $13,319,700

Percent of Chiefs’ total cap: 10.3

NFL average: $8,333,907

Chiefs rank on safety spending: 6th among 32 teams

Analysis: The Chiefs spend about 67 percent more than the league average at this position, mainly because of Eric Berry and his cap number of $11,619,700. Berry was drafted fifth overall in 2010, the last year before the NFL overhauled rookie contracts, so he’s benefitting from the huge deal he signed then. Berry has the highest salary-cap number for a safety and the only one over $10.1 million.

Kicker

Salary-cap commitments: $2,708,750

Percent of Chiefs’ total cap: 2.1

NFL average: $1,864,515

Chiefs rank on kicker spending: 8th among 32 teams

Analysis: The Chiefs have about 47 percent more committed to Ryan Succop than the average NFL team does to its kicker.

Punter

Salary-cap commitments: $3,800,000

Percent of Chiefs’ total cap: 2.9

NFL average: $1,706,906

Chiefs rank on punter spending: 2nd among 32 teams

Analysis: Here’s another sign the Chiefs value their kicking specialists more than some other teams. Re-signing Dustin Colquitt to a new contract was a priority for general manager John Dorsey and coach Andy Reid when they were hired last year. His cap number is more than twice that of the average NFL punter.

Long-snapper

Salary-cap commitments: $595,000

Percent of Chiefs’ total cap: .5

NFL average: $838,863

Chiefs rank on LS spending: 23rd among 32 teams

Analysis: The Chiefssigned Thomas Gafford to his second straight one-year contract worth the NFL minimum.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs made big improvement on special teams last season but could lose some key components to free agency.

Roster: Key contributors include kicker Ryan Succop, punter Dustin Colquitt, long snapper Thomas Gafford, punt returner Dexter McCluster, kickoff returners Knile Davis and Quintin Demps and blockers/coverage players Akeem Jordan, Anthony Sherman and Husain Abdullah.

Potential 2014 free agents among these players: Gafford, McCluster, Demps, Jordan and Abdullah.

The position: The Chiefs had one of the best special teams in the league last season. They scored five touchdowns, allowed none and set an NFL record for kickoff return average. That's threatened by the possible loss of McCluster and Demps. The decision whether to re-sign them is complicated by their roles on offense or defense. McCluster doesn't produce enough as a receiver to demand a big contract, so the Chiefs shouldn't give him one. While he did a nice job as a punt returner, he benefited from some great blocking at times. The Chiefs can find another returner who can do what McCluster does, though that won't necessarily be easy. Demps is a backup and if he's willing to accept backup money, he should be re-signed. Succop did a nice job on kickoffs and though he missed the clutch field goal attempt in the final regular season game in San Diego, he's made plenty of big kicks before. He also bounced back in the playoff game by making all three of his field goal attempts. Colquitt is pricey for a punter, but worth it. He consistently helps the Chiefs win the field position battle. Gafford is a generally reliable veteran but the Chiefs looked around before re-signing him last year and may have wandering eyes again. If the Chiefs lose Jordan and Abdullah, they might have a difficult time in finding players to replace them.

The Chiefs should keep: Succop, Colquitt, Davis, Demps, Jordan, Sherman and Abdullah.

The Chiefs should dump: Gafford and McCluster.

Free agency/draft priority: If the Chiefs lose McCluster and Demps, they'll need to find a replacement return specialist. Otherwise, they should always be looking for players to help in the kicking game.

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
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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.

Succop has earned another chance

January, 1, 2014
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Kansas City Chiefs are staying with the struggling Ryan Succop as their placekicker for Saturday’s wild-card round playoff game against the Colts in Indianapolis. Succop has earned the right to keep kicking for the Chiefs and don’t be surprised if he eventually rewards the Chiefs for his patience.

“He knows he needs to get everybody’s confidence back,’’ special teams coach Dave Toub said. “Coaches, players. He just needs to make a bunch of kicks in a row here now. These ones coming up in the playoffs, they’re critical.’’

Succop has missed three of his last four field goal attempts, none more critical than the 41-yarder try he sent wide to the right in the final seconds of the fourth quarter last Sunday in San Diego. The kick would have won the game for the Chiefs.

Instead, the game went to overtime, where it was won by the Chargers.

Succop started the season making 21 of his 24 field goal attempts before his recent slump.

“He needs to focus on this (next) kick,’’ Toub said. “Those other kicks are gone. We know he was thinking about those other (failed) kicks.’’

Succop has hit plenty of clutch kicks for the Chiefs in his five seasons. He is tough-minded enough to overcome his recent problems.

“He’s set all-time records here in Kansas City,’’ said punter Dustin Colquitt, who holds on field goal attempts. “He’s obviously one of the better kickers that’s ever played here. He’s exceptional inside 40. He hits a lot of field goals in cold weather games and windy games here at Arrowhead. He kicks off better than anybody I’ve ever played with.

“He’s been in good spirits. You’ve got to have a thick skin to play in this league whether you’re a quarterback or a kicker or anything in between. He’s doing (well). He hit all of his kicks (Tuesday).’’

Pro Bowl selections: Kansas City Chiefs

December, 27, 2013
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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.
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.

Injury luck hasn't been all it seems

October, 23, 2013
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs had each of their 53 players available for practice Wednesday, an unusual occurrence this time of the season. The Chiefs also had everybody available to them for practice last Friday and for last Sunday's game against the Houston Texans.

They're fortunate, to be sure. But to say injury luck has been a factor in their 7-0 record is stretching things. They've had lengthy injury reports this season, and key players such as running back Jamaal Charles and free safety Kendrick Lewis have missed large chunks of practice time.

Cornerback Brandon Flowers missed two games and tight end Anthony Fasano has missed four. Dustin Colquitt has been punting on a bum knee. Two players the Chiefs were counting on, tight ends Tony Moeaki and Travis Kelce, were done for the season without taking a regular-season snap.

Rookie defensive back Sanders Commings broke his collarbone on the first day of training camp and only last week returned to practice.

So while the Chiefs are in good shape for now and haven't been hit as hard as many other teams, they've hardly escaped unscathed.

"We've been fortunate," coach Andy Reid said. "That's really what it is. The guys are back now and playing with us. We had our share. The guys that stepped in did a nice job, which helped.

"Some of it is chance. Sometimes you get those things. It happens. Sometimes they come in waves. That's how it works."

Friday's Chiefs practice report

October, 18, 2013
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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).

Friday's Chiefs practice report

October, 11, 2013
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs ended the suspense with outside linebacker Justin Houston, listing him on their injury report as probable to play in Sunday's game against the Oakland Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium.

Joseph
Houston
Houston, hit in the head and neck area in last week's game against Tennessee, missed practice Wednesday as the Chiefs put him through the NFL's concussion protocol. He returned to practice on a limited basis on Thursday and was a full practice participant on Friday.

Houston is second in the NFL with 8.5 sacks.

But cornerback Brandon Flowers, who missed a game against the New York Giants two weeks ago because of a sore knee, injured the other knee in practice and was listed as having a 50-50 chance to play against the Raiders.

Another starter, free safety Kendrick Lewis (ankle) practiced for the first time this week and was also listed as questionable for Sunday's game. Tight ends Anthony Fasano (ankle/knee) and Travis Kelce (knee) did not practice all week. Fasano is listed as doubtful, and while Kelce will not play.

The Chiefs have nine other players on their injury report, and all were listed as likely to play: running back Jamaal Charles (toes), wide receiver Donnie Avery (shoulder), punter Dustin Colquitt (knee), tackle Eric Fisher (concussion), guard Jeff Allen (groin), tight end Sean McGrath (knee), fullback Anthony Sherman (knee), offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz (triceps), and linebacker Dezman Moses (toe).

Thursday's Chiefs practice report

October, 10, 2013
10/10/13
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Outside linebacker Justin Houston returned to Kansas City Chiefs practice on a limited basis but has yet to be cleared to play in Sunday's game against the Oakland Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium.

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Houston
Houston was hit in the head/neck area last week against the Tennessee Titans. He remained in the game. He did not practice Wednesday.

The loss of Houston would be a major one for the Chiefs. Houston leads the Chiefs with 8.5 sacks.

If he doesn't play, Houston would be replaced by veteran Frank Zombo, a former starter with the Packers. Zombo had four sacks as a rookie in 2010.

Running back Jamaal Charles, who has blisters on his feet, also returned to practice on a limited basis after sitting out a day earlier.

Two starters, tight end Anthony Fasano (knee/ankle) and free safety Kendrick Lewis (ankle) did not practice. Backup tight end Travis Kelce (knee) did not practice and will not play against Oakland.

Other players listed as practicing on a limited basis were wide receiver Donnie Avery (shoulder) and punter Dustin Colquitt (knee).

Listed as full practice participants: tackle Eric Fisher (concussion), guard Jeff Allen (groin), tight end Sean McGrath (knee), fullback Anthony Sherman (knee), offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz (tricep) and linebacker Dezman Moses (toe).
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Kansas City Chiefs punter Dustin Colquitt made the AFC’s Pro Bowl team last season, in large part because of his ability to drop the ball inside the 20. Colquitt is at it again. This season, 15 of his 32 kicks have gone inside the 20.

Colquitt
Otherwise, Colquitt is at an unfamiliar spot in the punter statistics. With a 41.8-yard average, he ranks second from the bottom among the 33 punters listed this week.

Colquitt is rarely near the top in punting average in part because he gives up some yards with his nice touch inside the 20. He’s also fighting a knee injury that almost knocked him out of the game against the New York Giants two weeks ago.

Colquitt is still punting, but hasn’t looked quite right since the injury, a fact confirmed by special team coordinator Dave Toub.

“I’m not a doctor," Toub said. “I just know he’s not all the way there. He’s feeling a lot better this week. He’s going to get better as we go. He’s on the mend."

A healthy Colquitt is important for the Chiefs, who don’t get a lot of big plays or score a lot of points with their offense. They’re dependent on winning the field position battle and having Colquitt available to drop a punt inside the 20 or hit a booming kick to get them out of trouble is vital.

One sign of Colquitt’s struggles came last week. Colquitt shanked a nine-yard punt in the fourth quarter against the Tennessee Titans. The Chiefs have had problems protecting Colquitt this season, though not on that particular play, and it might have been a factor in the lousy punt.

“We’ve had some issues with protection, and it was a low snap," Toub said. “He rushed it. He got up and tried to rush it, and there was nobody there. When you look at the tape later, you say, ‘What am I doing?’ But he rushed it. I’m sure he had snakes in his head from the past. That happens. That’s very unlike him. It won’t happen again with him."
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs had 12 names on their injury report, so things are looking up for them in that category. They listed 14 players last week.

Four starters did not practice: linebacker Justin Houston (possible concussion), running back Jamaal Charles (toes), tight end Anthony Fasano (knee/ankle) and free safety Kendrick Lewis (ankle). Backup tight end Travis Kelce (knee) also did not practice. Kelce, who had arthroscopic knee surgery Tuesday, will not play Sunday against the Oakland Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium.

Two other regulars were listed as being limited participants in practice: wide receiver Donnie Avery (shoulder) and punter Dustin Colquitt (knee).

Tackle Eric Fisher, who missed last week's game against the New York Giants because of a concussion, was a full practice participant. Others listed as full participants: guard Jeff Allen (groin), tight end Sean McGrath (knee), fullback Anthony Sherman (knee) and offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz (triceps).

Friday's Chiefs practice report

October, 4, 2013
10/04/13
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- For having 14 players, including 10 regulars, on this week's injury report, the Kansas City Chiefs look like they will be in decent shape for Sunday's game at Tennessee. The only players who have already been ruled out are two rookies, starting right tackle Eric Fisher (concussion) and backup tight end Travis Kelce (knee).

Three starters are listed as questionable to play on Sunday: cornerback Brandon Flowers (knee), free safety Kendrick Lewis (ankle) and tight end Anthony Fasano (ankle/knee). Flowers didn't play in last week's game against the New York Giants, but said after practice that he was far ahead physically from where he was at this point last week and that he would play against Tennessee.

Nine players are listed as probable to play in Sunday's game, including running back Jamaal Charles (blisters on his feet). The problem was so severe early in the week that Charles had to miss practice on Wednesday. But Charles, like Flowers, said he would play against the Titans.

The others listed as probable include five regulars: guards Jeff Allen (groin) and Jon Asamoah (knee), center Rodney Hudson (shin), fullback Anthony Sherman (knee) and punter Dustin Colquitt (knee). Also listed as probable are tight end Sean McGrath (knee), cornerback Marcus Cooper (knee/thigh) and linebacker James-Michael Johnson (thumb).

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