NFL Nation: Jalil Brown

Romeo Crennel has had it with turnovers.

The Kansas City Chiefs coach has seen his team commit 29 turnovers in half a season. The next closest team in the NFL is Dallas with 19. Kansas City committed 28 turnovers all of last season.

Crennel told reporters Friday he has threatened his players with the loss of playing time if they fumble or throw a bad interception. Crennel said if he deems the turnovers inexcusable, players will stand next to him or on the bench for some plays.

“Sometimes [to emphasize corrections] you basically have to threaten them -- so if you fumble it I’m going to take you out of the game,” Crennel said. “Then they will get the message.”

Chiefs offensive coordinator Brian Daboll is behind Crennel’s tough-consequences approach.

“I think [Crennel] has addressed the team, he continues to address the team in terms of the importance of turnovers,” Daboll told reporters Friday. “We all know what it is and haven’t done a good enough job with it. He told those guys that if they put it on the ground that maybe they should come over and stand with him for a little bit. He’s their head coach and I support him and we’ve got to do a good job of protecting the football.”

Starter Brady Quinn has not been cleared from suffering a concussion in Week 8. So it may be difficult for Crennel to sit quarterback Matt Cassel -- who has turned the ball over more than most NFL teams this season -- if he throws a bad interception Monday night at Pittsburgh. Crennel has indicated third-string quarterback Ricky Stanzi is not ready to play yet.

Meanwhile, new Kansas City defensive coordinator Gary Gibbs said new starting right cornerback Javier Arenas will be the nickel corner and Jalil Brown will play right cornerback in a nickel package. Arenas takes over as the starter for Stanford Routt, who was cut on Monday.

Breaking down Chiefs' big day

November, 5, 2012
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Kansas City head coach Romeo Crennel removed himself as defensive coordinator and promoted linebackers coach Gary Gibbs to the coordinator position on Monday. In another key move, the Chiefs cut starting cornerback Stanford Routt eight games into a three-year contract.

Let’s look at what the moves mean:

Changes needed: The first thing that pops to mind is the Chiefs brass feels like it has to do some things to prove they should keep their jobs after a 1-7 start by a team that was widely expected to contend for the playoffs.

Clearly, Crennel and general manager Scott Pioli believe shakeups were needed to show they want to turn the season around. I’m just not sure these moves will make a huge difference. Cutting Routt doesn’t necessarily make the Chiefs better and giving Gibbs -- who was the defensive coordinator in New Orleans from 2006-08 -- the defense and allowing Crennel to focus on being the head coach doesn’t seem like it will be a cure-all.

Easy to second guess: Both of these moves are acts of the team admitting mistakes.

Routt, cut by Oakland in February, signed a three-year, $19 million deal shortly after being cut. The Chiefs chose Routt over keeping free-agent Brandon Carr, who ended up signing a five-year, $50 million deal with Dallas.

I believe Pioli’s thinking was that even though Carr was younger and better than Routt, they were both starting No. 2 cornerbacks and going with Routt was a better alternative because he was cheaper.

I get that premise. But by cutting Routt now, the Chiefs are admitting they made a mistake and they may have been open to keeping Carr.

Javier Arenas will replace Routt in the lineup. Now, the Chiefs will either have to go with Arenas and Jalil Brown competing for the job next year or bring in another cornerback to compete for the job.

As for Crennel, he will forever be asked why he didn’t just hire a defensive coordinator when he was given the permanent job in January. Crennel said Monday that he is making the move because it is being perceived that he is spending too much time on the defense and is neglecting the offense.

Look, Kansas City is 1-7. We’re beyond perception. It’s all reality. If Crennel is kept in 2013, I’m sure he will searching for a defensive coordinator. Of course, if the Chiefs’ defense soars in the second half; Gibbs will likely be kept as the coordinator.

What’s next: These moves show no jobs are safe in Kansas City. Still, there isn’t a lot more that can be done.

Kansas City has already made a quarterback switch. Brady Quinn could start next Monday night at Pittsburgh if he is cleared after suffering a concussion in Week 8. Perhaps No. 3 quarterback Ricky Stanzi could get a shot if Quinn and Matt Cassel continue to struggle.

Regardless of these changes, more, perhaps drastic, moves are surely in the works after this miserable season ends.

Flowers might be on track to play

September, 14, 2012
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There is no guarantee Brandon Flowers will make his season debut Sunday at Buffalo, but there are signs that he will be on the field.

The Chiefs have listed Flowers as questionable to play Sunday. He has been out with a foot injury since July 31. Flowers has practiced fully the past two days. Also, backup running back Jalil Brown is questionable with a groin injury,

There are four Chiefs out, though. They are defensive tackle Anthony Toribio (ankle). Safety Kendrick Lewis (shoulder), receiver Devon Wylie (hamstring) and defensive lineman Allen Bailey (ankle).

However, if the Chiefs get Flowers back, it will be a big boost. Kansas City coach Romeo Crennel told reporters Friday that Flowers could be eased back into action.

“I think that you have to kind of temper it and know that conditioning will be a factor, and if the guy is able to play, you may have to monitor his reps,” Crennel said. “Then, some of that will depend on how the game goes. Probably asking him to play 100 plays would not be the thing to do, but if you can mix in here and there and give him a break now and then, then maybe he can get through a game.”

In other AFC West news:

Oakland long snapper Jon Condo practiced on a limited basis. If he is not cleared to play by Sunday, Nick Guess will be promoted from the practice squad. Linebacker Rolando McClain (ankle) and running back Taiwan Jones (ribs) both practiced on a limited basis and are questionable to play. Receiver Denarius Moore is probable after missing several weeks with a hamstring injury. The Raiders are expected to ease him back into action Sunday.

The Chargers announced they have sold enough tickets to avoid a local television blackout Sunday against Tennessee in their home opener. The team received a 24-hour extension. The team is urging fans to wear white at the game. The Chargers will be wearing white jerseys and uniform pants.

Denver cornerback Chris Harris did not practice for the second straight day with an ankle injury. Tony Carter would be the nickel cornerback at Atlanta on Monday if Harris can’t play.

Observation deck: Chiefs-Packers

August, 30, 2012
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A look at the Chiefs’ 24-3 loss at Green Bay:

If I owned an NFL team, I don’t think I’d meddle much. But I’d have one mandate: Do not play starters in the fourth preseason game.

That used to be a universal feeling in the NFL. But in recent years, teams have seemed to use starter some in the final preseason game.

Frankly, it is unnecessary and way too risky. And yes, it may have just bitten the Kansas City Chiefs. Again.

Last year, in the preseason finale, standout tight end Tony Moeaki suffered a season-ending knee injury. Thursday night, the Kansas City Star reported star linebacker Derrick Johnson may have suffered a significant ankle injury. Wow. Even if it is a minor ankle injury, Johnson may not be ready for Week 1 against Atlanta.

What a waste. Johnson didn’t need to play in this game.

Now, there is a chance the Chiefs could be without Johnson, cornerback Brandon Flowers and Kendrick Lewis (they are both injured) and linebacker Tamba Hali serving a one-game NFL suspension) in that game. Good luck, Chiefs.

For a team that was hoping to bounce back from an injury-riddled season in 2011, it seems like Kansas City, is at least, starting the 2012 season with injury issues.

It doesn’t stop on defense. The Kansas City Star reports backup quarterback Brady Quinn could have a significant injury as well. Quinn just beat out Ricky Stanzi for the backup job. If Quinn is going to miss major time, I’d think the Chiefs would pursue a backup quarterback. One option could be David Garrard, if he doesn’t make the Dolphins’ roster.

The Chiefs’ first-team offense and defense played sparingly and led the Packers’ starters after the first quarter.

The Packers led 14-3 at the half, so their backups are probably a little further ahead of the Chiefs’ reserves. No biggie.

Kansas City running back Peyton Hillis highlighted the starting lineups as he rumbled for 46 yards on six carries. Hillis looks ready for the start of the season.

Running back Nate Eachus made a great final push for a roster spot with 99 yards on 21 carries. He was terrific all summer. As a team, Kansas City ran well with 247 yards.

Cornerbacks Stanford Routt and Jacques Reeves stayed on the field after the rest of the Kansas City starting defenders left. Reeves could play extensively in Week 1 if Flowers and Jalil Brown are still injured.
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- This isn’t a training camp for the leisurely.

Armed with the best roster this franchise has seen in years, the Kansas City Chiefs are moving quickly under new coach Romeo Crennel. For those who visited the Chiefs camp last year, this pace is foreign.

“There are no wasted moments,” said quarterback Matt Cassel.

The final training camp of the Todd Haley era will live in infamy in the Heartland. The Chiefs’ training camp last season was essentially a three-week walk-through exercise. Haley chose to go that route because he wanted to ease the players back into the program after a lost offseason due the lockout. The plan didn’t work as the Chiefs were physically and mentally behind the rest of the league. The Chiefs, who suffered several major injuries early in the season, were clubbed early in the season and it set the tone for a disappointing season.

However, speed is back in vogue as Crennel tries for head-coaching success in the NFL in his second go-around. The tempo change has paid off so far. The Chiefs have looked crisp in practices and they were dominant on both sides of the ball against Arizona in the preseason opener last week.

The idea is to keep the forward tempo moving into the season as the Chiefs try to win the AFC West for the second time in three seasons.

“It’s exciting to see what is happening here,” Cassel said. “We have a lot of work to do, but we are all on the same page and all want to have success together.”

THREE HOT ISSUES

1. The ACL Club: In addition to bringing in several free agents, the Chiefs are getting back three standouts. Safety Eric Berry, running back Jamaal Charles and tight end Tony Moeaki all blew out the ACLs in their knee last September. All of the players are back and on pace to be major contributors this season.

“All of those guys look great,” Cassel said. “They’re going to help us a lot.”

2. Dwayne Bowe’s absence: The Pro Bowl receiver did not participate in the offseason workouts and he was not present for the entire training camp in Kansas City. Bowe has not signed his franchise tender. The general consensus is Bowe will report in early September, just before the season. But there are issues. Bowe has had trouble staying in football shape in the past, so coming in late could be a problem. Plus, he has to learn a new offensive system. The Chiefs want Bowe back, but they are moving forward without him. They know he makes them better, but the team likes its roster and won’t wait for anyone.

[+] EnlargeKansas City's Romeo Crennel
Denny Medley/US PRESSWIREChiefs coach Romeo Crennel has the respect of his players.
3. Good vibrations: This team is in a good place. The players love playing for Crennel. One of the reasons why Crennel was promoted from interim coach was the players’ respect for him. It has continued now that he is the permanent coach. He is a polar opposite of former coach Todd Haley, who was known as somewhat of loose cannon. Crennel is a calm, steady hand. Players love that he’s organized and up front. There is a lot of trust going on in this club.

“They’ve worked hard and they know the possibilities this team has," Crennel said. “Every team feels good about itself this time of year, but this team’s attitude is in the right place.”

REASON FOR OPTIMISM

This is the best overall roster in the AFC West. It is one of the deepest rosters in the AFC. There is proven talent throughout the roster and the team has the right mix of veteran and young players. Still, the Chiefs are the youngest team in the NFL. They are the only team in the league not to have a player over the age of 30.

“When I was on my visit, I just looked up and down this roster and saw so much talent,” free-agent pickup, tight end Kevin Boss said. “It is just loaded with talent.”

You look at this roster, and there isn’t much not to like.

REASON FOR PESSIMISM

The Chiefs will be banged for not being a playoff contender this year until Cassel proves otherwise. The big reason why many people don’t believe in the Chiefs is because they don’t believe in Cassel, even though he has already delivered a division title in Kansas City. Many scouts don’t think he can be a difference maker and because he is the least talented of the four quarterbacks in the AFC West, he will not be able to overcome the other teams in the division. I am of the belief there is enough talent on the roster to help Cassel lead the Chiefs deep into the playoffs. But he must prove it.

OBVERSATION DECK

  • The rap on No. 11 overall pick Dontari Poe is that the defensive tackle wasn’t productive at Memphis. The Chiefs didn’t feel that way. They reviewed every college snap he ever played and they were impressed that he played 60 percent of the snaps at 346 pounds. For what it’s worth, Poe’s college statistics and combine measuruables compare favorably to Green Bay’s B.J. Raji. He has become a star after being the No. 9 overall pick in 2009. Poe is two inches taller and nine pounds heavier than Raji, yet he ran a 4.9 40-yard dash at the combine compared to Raji’s 5.23. Poe had nine more tackles and four more quarterback hurries than Raji in college despite the fact Raji played 16 more college games. This is not to suggest Poe is going to be a better NFL player than Raji, but it does take away some of the steam out of the argument that Poe wasn’t a productive college player.
  • [+] EnlargeKansas City's Dontari Poe
    John Rieger/US PRESSWIREThe Chiefs like what they've seen from first-round pick Dontari Poe so far.
    With Bowe holding out, Jon Baldwin has been thriving under the professional guidance of veteran receivers Steve Breaston and Terrance Copper. Some folks in camp think Baldwin is making strides, because he is taking cues from Copper and Breaston.
  • Defensive ends Tyson Jackson and Glenn Dorsey are plus players for the Chiefs. No, neither is spectacular and they will always get grief for not living up to their draft billing. Dorsey was the No. 5 overall pick in 2008 and Jackson went No. 3 a year later. But both players are excellent run stuffers and are at their top of the game in that area.
  • While the focus is on Poe at nose tackle, Anthony Toribio and 2011 draft choice Jerrell Powe are also in the mix.
  • Inside linebacker Brandon Siler looks good after missing all of last season with an Achilles injury. He could push Jovan Belcher for playing time.
  • While Haley was known for his ranting and raving on the field, new offensive boss Brian Daboll is also fiery. He scoots around the field, barking instruction.
  • His new teammates love running back Peyton Hillis. His toughness and competitiveness have been a talk of camp.
  • Very quietly, left tackle Branden Albert is becoming the player the former Kansas City regime thought they were getting when they took him No. 15 overall in 2008. I expect the Chiefs to try to extend the pending free-agent at some point. He’s been stellar.
  • I wouldn’t be surprised if the Brady Quinn-Ricky Stanzi battle to be Cassel’s backup continues all season, but with Quinn winning the job initially. The Chiefs like where they stand with both players.
  • The Chiefs are excited about the potential of tight ends Moeaki and Boss. Expect both to have high profiles in the offense.
  • Second-year pass-rusher Justin Houston has been terrific and the Chiefs are bubbling over at what kind of pass-rush combination Tamba Hali and Houston can become.
  • The team appreciates the flexibility of third-year player Dexter McCluster , who has bounced from receiver to running back to receiver again. McCluster may never have a classically defined role, but he will have a role in this offense.
  • Undrafted rookie receiver Josh Bellamy still has a chance to make the 53-man roster, but in a numbers game, he could be practice-squad bound.
  • So far, so good for new center Rodney Hudson. The second-year player looks comfortable playing with Cassel and vice versa.
  • Camp observers believe kicker Ryan Succop has gotten bigger and stronger, which will help with his field-goal range.
  • The team's fourth-round pick, receiver/returner Devon Wylie, is explosive. He will be given a chance to contribute.
  • Keep an eye on defensive end Ropati Pitoitua. He has outplayed 2011 third-round pick Allen Bailey and he may be a keeper.
  • Brandon Flowers’ foot injury has allowed second-year cornerback Jalil Brown to blossom. I expect Brown to be on the field often in the regular season.

Camp Confidential: Chiefs

August, 19, 2011
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ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- Been looking for post-lockout, smash-mouth NFL action?

Hope you didn’t come to Chiefs camp during the past three weeks.

Kansas City's training camp wasn’t the most excfiting place in the NFL. The Chiefs started very slowly, only going to pads last Sunday. The team’s starters did virtually nothing in a 25-0 loss to Tampa Bay last Friday night. Coach Todd Haley said he may take the same approach this Friday at Baltimore.

It’s a lockout-caused plan by Haley as the Chiefs take the big-picture approach and begin their AFC West title defense.

Haley was concerned about the length of the lockout and he didn’t want to rush his team into action because of the lost time. He wants this team to be fresh for the season. Other teams have crammed in as much physical play as possible. Haley, known for his physical camps in his first two years in Kansas City, is taking a much different approach.

At this point, he said, getting his team conditioned to make up for lost time is more important to him than practicing hard. Haley said he will concentrate on heavy football drills toward the end of the preseason to ensure the team stays as healthy as possible heading into the regular season.

The coach is taking some heat for taking the cautious approach. Many fans are concerned the Chiefs will not be ready when they open the regular season against visiting Buffalo on Sept. 11.

“I’m sticking to my convictions,” Haley said. “This is what is best for this team. I believe we will be ready for the season.”

The Chiefs picked up the intensity in practice this week, but they will not turn their starters loose until the third preseason game. There is even a chance the starters will play in the final preseason game, which routinely doesn’t happen around the league.

“This is the approach coach Haley wants us to take,” Kansas City quarterback Matt Cassel. “We are fully behind him.”

THREE HOT ISSUES

1. Work with the quarterback: Cassel’s development is still the No.1 priority for this team and camp time is essential. There is no doubt Cassel progressed last season, but he fell off at the end of the season and now has to get used to working with new quarterback coach Jim Zorn after a one-year stint with Charlie Weis as a his offensive coordinator. Weis now has the same job at the University of Florida. Cassel and Zorn lost valuable time due to the lockout. However, they are said to have built a good relationship and gotten comfortable working together this summer.

[+] EnlargeMatt Cassel
Kirby Lee/US PresswireChiefs quarterback Matt Cassel will have plenty of options when distributing the ball this season.
2. Spread the ball around: The Chiefs are spending this camp getting their varied passing-game weapons in order. This can be a dangerous passing offense and this camp is being spent on how to best utilize it. Cassel has many directions to look. It starts with No.1 receiver Dwayne Bowe, but the Chiefs have given him help by drafting Jon Baldwin in the first round and signing slot receiver Steve Breaston, who played for Haley in Arizona and caught 77 passes in 2008 under Haley’s guidance. Add tight end Tony Moeaki and running back/receiver Dexter McCluster and there are a lot of options. Figuring out the best ways to utilize all of them is what camp is for.

3. Figuring what’s best for Charles: It has driven many Kansas City fans crazy that the Chiefs don’t give Jamaal Charles more carries. Thomas Jones had 245 rushing attempts last season while Charles had 230 carries. Jones fell off toward the end of the season, but Charles was spectacular. He had 1,467 rushing yards rushing, which was second in the league. The Chiefs want to increase Charles’ numbers but also want him to stay fresh and healthy, so don’t expect his workload to fly through the roof. To help both Charles and Jones, who will likely get 8-10 carries per game, the Chiefs signed former Baltimore fullback Le'Ron McClain, who runs the ball more than the average fullback. The Chiefs are working all three backs during this camp to figure out the most advantageous carry distribution.

ARE THEY GOING TO JARED?

The Chiefs’ camp got interesting last week when the team picked up former Baltimore left tackle Jared Gaither. Known as an above-average left tackle, Gaither missed all of last season with a back injury. The Raiders considered signing him early in camp, but they passed because of his back.

The Chiefs signed Gaither during camp and he is now practicing with the second team. If his back holds up, there is a strong chance Gaither could move into the starting lineup and send Branden Albert to right tackle. Albert, a first-round pick in 2008, has been a decent-but-not-great left tackle. The Chiefs have long considered making him a right tackle, where many scouts think he’d flourish. If he moves to right tackle, Albert would replace Barry Richardson. If the massive (6-foot-9, 340 pounds) Gaither is healthy and motivated, this could be a significant move for Kansas City.

CHIEFS MAY NEED TO BACK IT UP AT QB

The Chiefs are keeping a close eye on backup quarterbacks Tyler Palko and rookie Ricky Stanzi during camp. The two struggled in the preseason opener last week. If they continue to struggle, Kansas City could potentially consider bringing in a veteran backup such as Jake Delhomme to be the No. 2 quarterback. Still, Stanzi, a fifth-round pick from Iowa, should be a lock to make the team. Palko will have to increase his production to survive the final cuts.

OBSERVATION DECK

  • The team loves the addition of nose tackle Kelly Gregg. He has been a leader and he has been working hard in camp. He has been a positive influence on young players, including draft pick Jerrell Powe.

  • The Chiefs are working on increasing their turnover numbers on defense. They had the eighth-fewest takeaways in the NFL last season.
    [+] EnlargeKansas City's Jon Baldwin
    Denny Medley/US PRESSWIREFirst-round draft pick Jon Baldwin, along with new acquisition Steve Breaston, are expected to make an impact this season.

  • Baldwin was hampered by some minor issues. Camp observers said he struggled early in camp getting off the line of scrimmage, but the coaching staff is confident the No. 26 overall pick in the 2011 draft will catch up quickly. Baldwin had a reputation for being difficult in college, but the Chiefs haven’t seen any of indications of that and are more than satisfied with his attitude.
UPDATE: ESPN’s Adam Schefter confirmed that Baldwin is doubtful for the rest of training camp after a locker-room fight with Jones. Baldwin’s incident occurred after the Chiefs’ brass praised his attitude. This event has to be alarming for the team.

  • Veteran backup Jerheme Urban has been running with the first team with Bowe as Baldwin and Breaston get acclimated. Don’t expect that to last. Baldwin and Breaston were brought in to play a lot of snaps.

  • Haley has paired veterans with rookies to help the younger players through camp. The players room together, and Haley often matches up players from opposite sides of the ball to help team continuity.

  • Veteran Andy Studebaker has been working with first team at outside linebacker opposite star pass rusher Tamba Hali. The Chiefs are going to use several players to pressure the quarterback, but Studebaker has a chance to have a key role while rookie Justin Houston learns the team’s system.

  • McCluster has been working mostly out of the backfield as Haley suggested he would in May. Still, expect McCluster to line up at receiver some as well. The Chiefs are looking to create as many matchup problems as they can with McCluster, especially on third downs.

  • Rookie DE Allen Bailey has a chance to contribute right away as a pass rusher. He has been working in that area diligently in camp.

  • Rookie offensive lineman Rodney Hudson has been looking good. The second-round pick could play at guard and at center.

  • The team also likes the progress of second-year guard Jon Asamoah, who has a chance to shine in the aftermath of the release of Brian Waters.

  • Former San Diego inside linebacker Brandon Siler is making a push for major playing time. He is a solid talent who also helps on special teams.

  • Linebacker Cameron Sheffield has played well. And he could be a contributor. He missed all of last season after suffering a neck injury in the preseason.

  • One undrafted free agent to watch is Temple linebacker Amara Kamara. He has caught on to the defensive scheme very quickly.

  • Cornerback Jalil Brown, a fourth-round pick out of Colorado, has been impressive and he has a chance to be contributor in some packages and on special teams.
Troy Nolan, Courtney GreeneAP PhotosHouston's Troy Nolan, left, recorded three interceptions in 2010, while Courtney Greene picked off one pass and forced a fumble for Jacksonville.
If Peyton Manning dropped back and looked downfield against the secondaries of the Texans or Jaguars right now, he’d find a safety pool that averages 2.25 years of experience and has an average draft spot of No. 205.

Collectively, Troy Nolan and Dominique Barber of Houston and Don Carey and Courtney Greene of Jacksonville have five interceptions, three fumble recoveries and one forced fumble in 31 career starts.

They are nice guys with some promise, but it’s hard to tab any one of the four as a star in the making.

As Houston and Jacksonville head toward a draft where the safeties are not highly regarded, it screams the question:

How can teams trying to catch Manning’s Colts playing in an increasingly quarterback-driven league be so poorly stocked as such a critical position?

It’s hard to figure.

At least the Jaguars have taken a big swing, missing badly on No. 21 overall pick Reggie Nelson in 2007, a feeble tackler who tended to take terrible angles. He was traded to Cincinnati before the 2010 season. Jacksonville was also the first team to have Bob Sanders in for a visit after he was cut by the Colts in February, but he ultimately lined up to go to San Diego.

Jacksonville coach Jack Del Rio talked of his desire to add “that guy,” whether he came in the form of Sanders or not.

The Jaguars’ last homegrown safety of influence before Nelson was Gerald Sensabaugh, a fifth-rounder in 2005 whom the team let walk to Dallas as a free agent after the 2008 season and who’s scheduled to be a free agent again.

The team simply asked too much of young guys last season. Carey moved to safety from corner. He had never made calls before, but he was usually responsible for adjusting one half of the pass defense once it lined up, a tall task in games against the likes of Manning and Matt Schaub.

“Even when you crack down on your film study, when you get to a game it’s still very frustrating because they kind of know what you’re going to do in certain situations,” Carey said. “You try hard to hide your coverages; it’s a real chess match.”

Carey said he can’t worry about who’s brought in, he just needs to work to get better. General manager Gene Smith still sees Carey as an “ascending” player. Del Rio said Carey needs “technique clean-up.”

“Will he ascend to the starter we need him to be?” Del Rio asked. “I don’t know that. I think the jury’s still out.”

For a team that wants to build through the draft, Houston has devoted virtually no resources to the safety position. Of the 76 draft selections the Texans have made since they got off the ground in 2002, they've spent eight on safeties, but only one as high as the fourth round.

They relied on veteran castoffs the past few years but released the ineffective Eugene Wilson and made it known the one-dimensional Bernard Pollard will not be re-signed.

One personnel man told me recently that the state of the positions in the league is average, that this draft is thin at the spot, that the options are better at free than strong and that teams may look more than ever to try to convert corners.

Rob Rang of NFLDraftScout.com thinks these five corners could wind up being NFL safeties: Aaron Williams of Texas (second round), Marcus Gilchrist of Clemson (third), Jalil Brown of Colorado (third or fourth), Chris Culliver of South Carolina (fourth) and Chris Rucker of Michigan State (fourth or fifth).

Many teams are increasingly blurring the lines between the roles and ideally like to have two players who can both run and cover and step up to play the run.

Teams like the Texans and Jaguars would surely be pleased, however, to have one player with a talent on each end of the safety spectrum who could serve as an upgrade and help reduce the stress on the cornerbacks.

Houston may move Glover Quin to free safety, but then it will be playing its best cornerback out of position.

How much could better play from the safeties help a group of young corners that really struggled in 2010?

“I think it’s significant,” Texans general manager Rick Smith said. “I mean you’re looking at a former safety. So I value the position significantly.”

Both Texans coach Gary Kubiak and the Jaguars’ Smith have said they hope to add a veteran at the position as well as examining the draft options.

“You’d always like to have a veteran at the safety position,” Gene Smith said. “Playing safety is like playing quarterback, and you’d always prefer to have a veteran at quarterback. You don’t always have the luxury of being in that position, but that would be a good area to get a veteran player.”

A guy like San Diego free safety Eric Weddle, who could buy a real secondary ownership stake by signing with Houston or Jacksonville, should be an attractive option if he reaches the market. And he or Indianapolis’ Melvin Bullitt could help one of the incumbent kids or a rookie grow into a role quicker. Signing him could also help weaken the division’s top team.

Their values, when free agency arrives, should be high no matter who’s been drafted.

Even if the Colts re-sign Bullitt, they probably will be looking for safety depth. And while Tennessee maintains faith in free safety Michael Griffin, it should be looking for a player to challenge slipping veteran Chris Hope.

That’s just four teams in need of six players at the position in a draft where ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay thinks Rahim Moore of UCLA may be the only guy in the draft capable of stepping in as an opening-day NFL starter.

“He’s a really good player, great angles, ball skills,” McShay said. “The thing that keeps him from being elite is he’s not fluid in man-to-man coverage. But he has good range and is very instinctive.

“After that there is a big drop-off. Jaiquawn Garrett from Temple is a good player, but not elite. Ahmad Black from Florida is a great athlete, quick, and hits hard for a small guy, but he’s really small. DeAndre McDaniel from Clemson is so overrated.”

Those are hardly two paragraphs that will get Texans and Jaguars fans excited.

They may have an entirely different effect on Manning and the quarterbacks slated to throw against those teams if and when we get kickoffs this fall.

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