NFL Nation: Kevin Boss

The awkward part of New York Giants GM Jerry Reese's pre-draft news conference Thursday came when a reporter asked him about tight end. The exchange went like this:
Q: Historically, this team has relied on the tight end quite a bit. Would you be comfortable moving forward with the guys you have on your roster right now?

Reese: Historically we've relied on our tight end?

Q: Well, they've had a prominent role.

Reese: Really?

Q: I seem to remember tight ends catching important passes.

Reese: Yeah, well, we think we've got some tight ends that can catch some important passes. But "prominent role"? We want all of our positions to be prominent roles. I'm not sure if our tight ends have had prominent roles in the past. But we want a competent tight end. We think we've got a couple of young tight ends who have been here for a couple of years who we want to develop, and we'll continue to look as we move forward.
[+] EnlargeBrandon Myers
Brad Penner/USA TODAY SportsIn his one season with the Giants, Brandon Myers caught 47 passes for 522 yards.
I have been on the other end of that exchange in the past. I've been the one who asked Reese a question that posited a certain level of significance for the tight end position and had him reject the premise. Obviously, this does not show Reese at his most polite, but he views this idea that the Giants' offense has relied on a tight end as an especially irksome misperception. And the numbers support his side of it:

  • Brandon Myers' 47 receptions in 2013 were the second-most in a single season by a Giants tight end since Jeremy Shockey caught 57 passes in 2007.
  • Since 2007, the Giants have employed four different starting tight ends -- Kevin Boss from 2008-10, Jake Ballard in 2011, Martellus Bennett in 2012 and Myers last year.
  • Over that six-year stretch, the Giants' leading tight end has averaged 42 receptions for 539 yards and five touchdowns per year, with Bennett's 55 catches and 626 yards in 2012 and Boss' six touchdowns in 2008 the high-water marks in those categories.

Reese is not shy about telling people he thinks he can find a tight end who can catch 42 passes every year, and this is the basis on which he rejects a characterization such as "prominent role." Yes, he could be nicer about making the point, but the Giants' offense has not, in point of fact, relied on the tight end. Shockey was an exceptional case -- an exceptional talent the Giants deemed worthy of a first-round pick. And Bennett's athleticism allowed them to use him a bit more than they've used other guys after they were able to get him on the cheap prior to the 2012 season.

But the thing to remember about Bennett and Shockey is that both were excellent and willing blockers at the position. Bennett's as good a run-blocking tight end as there is in the NFL right now, and the Giants had him on the field a lot for that reason. That his size and speed enabled him to be a slightly bigger factor in the passing game than some of his predecessors were was a bonus, and the Giants were fortunate that he wasn't in demand that year due to the perception that he was a huge disappointment in Dallas. Once he played well for them, he parlayed that into a big free-agent deal with the Bears, and the Giants made no effort to spend to keep him.

So the point to be taken from this is not that the Giants don't like the tight end position but that it's not a position on which they feel compelled to spend major resources. Other than that 2002 first-round pick they spent on Shockey, they've consistently sought cheap solutions at tight end, viewing whoever plays it as replaceable from year to year. They want guys who can block, and if those guys can catch the ball, so much the better.

For that reason, it's easy to convince yourself that they won't be taking North Carolina's Eric Ebron with the No. 12 pick in the first round next week. Ebron may be an exceptional talent as a receiver, and the tight end position leaguewide may have evolved to the point where it's worth spending a No. 12 overall pick to get one who can be a difference-maker in the passing game. But Reese insisted Thursday that the arrival of new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo has not changed the way the Giants evaluate offensive players. And while Shockey was the No. 14 overall pick in that 2002 draft, it's vital to remember that Shockey was a good blocker in addition to a great pass-catcher. Ebron is a pass-catcher only. He'd be a liability as a blocker. So the comparison doesn't necessarily fit.

The Giants could find a tight end such as Jace Amaro or Austin Seferian-Jenkins in the second round if they really feel they need one, but it's possible they don't feel that way. They have 2012 fourth-round pick Adrien Robinson still on the roster and have been eager for some time to see him on the field more. They resisted putting Robinson on injured reserve all last year because they believed he had something to offer if he ever got healthy (which he finally did, only to injure himself again on the opening kickoff of the Week 16 game in Detroit). They signed blocking tight end Kellen Davis and Daniel Fells for depth at the position, and Larry Donnell has been a strong enough special-teams performer to earn more practice reps and show what he can do. That's the group Reese has, and he swears he doesn't feel the need to upgrade it in the draft. If their pick comes around and the best player still on their board plays tight end, sure, they could take him. But Reese isn't hunting for some huge solution at the position next week.

The question is whether he's right. I personally think the Giants would benefit from having a more permanent solution at this position than they've employed over the past four years. I think the way the league is going, it's more important than it used to be to have a big-time weapon at that position who can split out wide and bust matchups in the secondary. But I don't run the Giants. Jerry Reese does. And he and the Giants do things their way, and they believe in it. You can respect someone's conviction even if your opinion differs from theirs. Reese thinks he's OK at tight end -- or at least that he will be. And it's clear when he's asked about it that he doesn't understand what all the fuss is about.
This one is for New York Giants fans in a panic about tight end, even though the team changes tight ends every year and always seems to get the same production out of whoever they bring in. Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News reports that the Giants are bringing in Raiders free-agent tight end Brandon Myers, who caught 79 passes for 806 yards and four touchdowns in his breakout 2012 season in Oakland.

Myers would certainly be a capable replacement for Martellus Bennett, who signed with the Bears as a free agent after one season with the Giants. He would also be the Giants' fourth starting tight end in four years, following Kevin Boss, Jake Ballard and Bennett. The Giants generally tend to look for tight ends who can help as run-blockers first, as they rely on their wide receivers to carry the load in the passing game, but there's little doubt that Myers' ability as a receiver could help the offense.

The Giants appear to be busy this weekend, as they have reportedly signed a one-year deal with former Cowboys linebacker Dan Connor and also reportedly added wide receiver Louis Murphy. Connor spent just one season in Dallas before being cut last week and didn't make much of an impact, being beaten out for playing time by Bruce Carter. Murphy is a 24-year-old speedster who hasn't been a very good NFL receiver to this point, and my guess would be that the Giants are thinking he might be able to help them as a punt returner.
It appears as though tight end Martellus Bennett's stay with the New York Giants has lasted just one season. According to ESPNChicago.com, Bennett has agreed in principle on an unrestricted free-agent deal with the Chicago Bears.

The Giants signed Bennett away from the Dallas Cowboys last year because they saw him as a young, talented, physical player who could certainly help them as a run-blocker and hopefully help in the passing game as a receiver. He played well, and likely exceeded expectations in the passing game, but tight end is not a position on which the Giants like to spend significant resources. So when Bennett decided he wanted to test the open market, the Giants decided to let him do that and move on without him. The Giants are likely to go with their fourth different starting tight end in as many years now, but they tend to cite the past production of Kevin Boss, Jake Ballard and Bennett as proof that quarterback Eli Manning can get sufficient production out of the tight end position no matter who's in there.

I'd expect the Giants to find a tight end on the free-agent market or maybe in the draft, but I wouldn't expect a big-money deal for a free agent or a first-round tight end. Again, this isn't one of the positions on which the Giants like to spend significant resources.

The Giants also have agreed on a one-year contract with cornerback Aaron Ross, who played the first five years of his career with the Giants and won two Super Bowls before leaving last year as a free agent for Jacksonville. The Jaguars released Ross a couple of days ago and he returns home to bolster the Giants' cornerback corps behind Corey Webster and Prince Amukamara.
USA Today is reporting the Kansas City Chiefs are close to signing tight end Anthony Fasano.

Fasano, 28, had 41 catches with Miami last season. He is considered a solid second tight end. He has good hands and blocks well. The Chiefs’ starter is Tony Moeaki. He has big talent, but he has had difficulty staying healthy.

The Chiefs cut Kevin Boss because of health issues. So a Fasano signing makes sense for the Chiefs.

Meanwhile, the agent for Jets defensive lineman Mike DeVito said he will visit the Chiefs. DeVito played for new Kansas City defensive coordinator Bob Sutton with the Jets. DeVito is considered a stout defensive lineman.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting Pittsburgh running back Rashard Mendenhall may choose between the Denver Broncos and the Arizona Cardinals and he will visit both teams. He has a history with new Arizona coach Bruce Arians in Pittsburgh.

Schefter is also reporting the Broncos will visit with cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. He’d be a pretty nice get for Denver.

NFL Network is reporting Colts cornerback Jerraud Powers will visit the Cardinals and the Chargers. The Chargers have expressed a lot of interest.

*UPDATE: Schefter reports the Fasano deal is done in Kansas City.
The primary job of the new brass in Kansas City is to upgrade the offense.

On Tuesday, it made two moves that are reminders of failures of the last regime in an attempt to better the offense.

The Chiefs cut receiver Steve Breaston and tight end Kevin Boss. Breaston was signed two years ago in free agency and Boss was picked up last year. Both moves were brought with enthusiasm in Kansas City.

However, neither player was able to make a huge impact in Kansas City. Neither cut is a surprise.

Breaston actually had a good year for Kansas City in 2011 when he had 61 catches. He was brought to the Chiefs by former coach Todd Haley. Breaston excelled under Haley in Arizona. However, with Haley gone in 2012, Breaston was a forgotten player in Kansas City. He had just seven catches and was a healthy scratch for several games.

Apparently, new coach Andy Reid didn’t think it was worth seeing if Breaston could regain his 2011 from even though the Chiefs’ receiving crew is fairly thin. The Chiefs want to re-sign free agent Dwayne Bowe.

The previous regime thought Boss and Tony Moeaki would make a great 1-2 punch at tight end. But Boss was lost for the season after suffering a concussion in Week 2. His release seemed destined to happen for months.

Both players could get modest interest around the league. But Boss will first have to show he is healthy enough to play.

One place Breaston could potentially land is San Diego, where former Arizona head coach Ken Whisenhunt is the offensive coordinator. The Chargers could use help at receiver. Pittsburgh, where Haley is the offensive coordinator, has to be considered a possible spot for Breaston as well.
Thoughtful piece here from Paul Schwartz, with the help of former New York Giants tackle Luke Petitgout, on the Giants' preference for parting ways with players before those players lose their effectiveness. At the end of the week in which the Giants cut two-time Super Bowl-winning running back Ahmad Bradshaw, as well as linebacker Michael Boley and defensive tackle Chris Canty, Petitgout remembers his own experience and sees it reflected in what's going on now:
“The Giants are a family,’’ Petitgout said. “It’s something tough to accept, like when a girlfriend dumps you. They know when your time is up. Some guys may buck the trend and have a good couple years after that but if you’ve been there a long time, they know your medical history, they know your aches and pains, they usually make the right decision. I basically had a time bomb in my back and when I went to Tampa it went off. The Giants knew what they were doing.’’
[+] EnlargeAhmad Bradshaw
Jim O'Connor/USA TODAY SportsThe Giants parted ways this week with Ahmad Bradshaw, who was their leading rusher the past three seasons.
It cannot have been easy for GM Jerry Reese to say goodbye to Bradshaw, who played through significant pain to help deliver the team's Super Bowl title last year. But between Bradshaw's salary and the chronic foot injuries that kept him from practicing during the week or playing at full strength on Sundays, the Giants believed it was the right thing to do. It's not the first time they've cut a player while he was still an effective producer for them, and if Bradshaw's best days are behind him, it won't be the first time the Giants cut a still-productive player just in time:
Reese is rarely wrong. As a former scout, his eye for talent isn’t confined to youngsters. Steve Smith and Kevin Boss haven’t done a thing and haven’t stayed healthy. He traded away Jeremy Shockey. He did not re-sign Brandon Jacobs, Derrick Ward or Amani Toomer. He cut Shaun O'Hara, Rich Seubert and Kareem McKenzie. He didn’t think Antonio Pierce's neck was sound enough to continue playing. He passed on bringing back Plaxico Burress. In the same purge that caught Petitgout, Reese also jettisoned Carlos Emmons and LaVar Arrington. Did any of these players prove Reese wrong?

Pretty amazing list. Combine this idea with what we wrote about here Thursday -- the Giants' organizational belief in developing young players in their system so they're ready to take over when it's time for the veterans to go -- and it's easy to see that Reese has a definite plan and is sticking to it. Will it work? No way to know. If the Giants are in something of a rebuild mode, they're going to need many of their young players to be as good as the team thought they'd be when it drafted them. And not even Reese, with all of his track record, can predict how players are going to play. The point is, even as things change with the Giants and people come and go, it's still easy to see the consistency with which they operate, and it has served them well.

Chiefs DE Glenn Dorsey is out Sunday

September, 30, 2012
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KANSAS CITY – Just when the Kansas City Chiefs were getting healthy on defense, they are dealing with another key injury.

Defensive lineman Glenn Dorsey is inactive for Sunday’s game against San Diego. Dorsey injured his calf this week in practice. He was listed as questionable on the injury report. Ropati Pitoitua and Allen Bailey will likely rotate at Dorsey’s right defensive end spot.

As expected, receiver Dwayne Bowe (groin) is active and expected to start. Fellow receivers Steve Breaston and Dexter McCluster are also active. They were questionable along with Bowe. Rookie receiver Devon Wylie is not active.

Starting safety Kendrick Lewis is inactive for the fourth straight game, even though he has been practicing for the past couple of weeks. I’d expect him to play next week at Baltimore. He has been out since August with a shoulder injury.

As expected, running back Peyton Hillis (ankle) and tight end Kevin Boss (concussion) are out.
A lot of Kansas City Chiefs fans have wondered when they are going to see Jon Baldwin have a bigger role in the team’s offense.

It may happen Sunday against San Diego.

Four Kansas City receivers are listed as questionable and a tight end is out. Matt Cassel will need to throw to someone and Baldwin, who has six catches in three games, may be the man.

Top receiver Dwayne Bowe (groin), Steve Breaston (knee), Dexter McCluster (elbow) and Devon Wylie (hamstring) are all questionable. Tight end Kevin Boss (concussion) is out. It is very likely running back Peyton Hillis is doubtful with an ankle injury.

That is a lot of firepower that will either be hobbled or out for the Kansas City offense, which is averaging 441.7 yards a game and is ranked No. 1 in the league through the first three games.

In the first two games, the Chiefs were ravaged by injuries on defense. Now it’s the offense’s turn as Kansas City (1-2) hosts 2-1 San Diego.

Ryan Mundy fined for Heyward-Bey hit

September, 26, 2012
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Pittsburgh safety Ryan Mundy was fined $21,000 for a brutal hit on Oakland receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey on Sunday, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Heyward-Bey spent the night in a hospital with neck and concussion issues. He was released the next day and is expected to fully recover. There is no word on when he will be able to play. There was no penalty on the play.

In other AFC West news:

There was a report that Oakland cut second-year offensive lineman Joe Barksdale. However, the Contra Costa Times reports the Raiders said he is still on the roster. Yet, he is not on the practice field. The Oakland Tribune reports Barskdale was brining belongs to his car while practice was in session. This might be a fluid situation. If he is cut, the third-round pick would join fellow 2011 draft picks DeMarcus Van Dyke (cornerback, third round) and Chimdi Chewka (cornerback, fourth round) to be cut since the new regime in Oakland took over.

Kansas City running back Jamaal Charles was named the AFC offensive player of the week after he ran for 233 yards in an overtime win at New Orleans.

Kansas City coach Romeo Crennel said receiver Dexter McCluster will be limited in practice Wednesday. That is good news, because it looked like he suffered a serious elbow injury Sunday at New Orleans. It is not clear if McCluster can play Sunday, but the injury doesn’t seem serious.

Crennel said tight end Kevin Boss is still out with a concussion that kept him out of Week 3. Also, running back Peyton Hillis won’t practice because of an ankle injury.

Denver cornerback Tracy Porter is practicing Wednesday. He left Sunday’s loss to Houston with a knee injury.

Charles is the only AFC West representative on Mike Sando’s MVP Watch this week. He is No. 10. San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers fell off the list after being No. 4 last week. That’s what scoring three points can do to a guy’s candidacy.

The Raiders announced receiver Tori Gurley has been signed to the practice squad. Gurley tweeted Tuesday that he was a Raider.
Tamba HaliPeter Aiken/Getty ImagesThe Kansas City Chiefs' pass rush should receive a boost with the return of Tamba Hali.
The Kansas City Chiefs' defense is in serious need of a boost.

It will get one in a big way when star pass-rusher Tamba Hali makes his 2012 debut Sunday at Buffalo. Hali served a one-game NFL suspension in Week 1 for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. The Chiefs were run over, 40-24, by the visiting Falcons.

Hali -- who told reporters “it wasn’t fun screaming at the TV” while he watched the Falcons dismantle the Chiefs -- was one of four Kansas City defensive starters who missed the game. However, the Chiefs did not miss any of the players more than Hali. Hali simply makes the Chiefs a different defense, and the Chiefs know it. That’s why it is a relief that he will flying to Buffalo, where the Chiefs will try to even their record at 1-1 and bring life to what is a promising season. Hali is one of the best pass-rushers in the NFL.

Without Hali to create a consistent pass rush, Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan was able to relax and pick apart the Chiefs. The Chiefs sacked Ryan once and barely created much of a pass-rush burst. That’s not a surprise. When Hali -- who has 53.5 sacks in six NFL seasons and 26.5 sacks in the past two seasons -- was not on the field last season, the Chiefs registered a grand total of zero sacks, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

“We all know that Tamba brings a lot to the table as far as his ability to rush the passer,” Kansas City coach Romeo Crennel told reporters this week. “When you have that kind of pressure that you can apply to an opposing offense, that’s good for us and bad for them. They have to be concerned about it. We’ll get him back and hopefully he’ll be at a level that he can impact the opponent and then be able to help us win some games.”

Can one player make that much of a difference?

A player of Hali’s caliber can. Pass-rushers are at a premium. Hali, a first-round draft pick from Penn State in 2006, is the best defensive player in the AFC West in my opinion, although Denver pass-rusher Von Miller is making a serious push. I’m not alone in my high praise.

Last year, when he was still the defensive coordinator in Kansas City, Crennel said Hali was the best edge rusher he’d ever coached. Scouts rave about his relentless motor and marvel at how he never gives up on plays. Hali is that he is a complete player. He is more than simply a pass-rusher. He is unwavering against the run, too.

“You see him play; you see the energy he displays in the game,” Crennel said. “And that’s what he is; he is a high-energy guy. He’s always working at his craft, trying to get better all the time. That’s what he brings to the table. The guys in the locker room appreciate the energy that he brings.”

Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. says Hali is an elite player but is often overlooked, perhaps because he plays in the middle of the country and is not a flashy player at a position where there is a high-flash factor. Hali has a reputation for being quiet and humble. He doesn’t talk to the media much and he never boasts. So, he may get lost in the hoopla when it comes to the game’s best sack artists.

He has been voted to the last two Pro Bowls, and he played in the game last year. Earlier this summer, Hali addressed the fact that he may be a little off the radar.

“I think guys see that I play the game and I have a passion for it,” Hali said. “I hope that [the media] respect my craft, but I don’t really pay attention to it much.”

There is no doubt Hali has earned the respect of his peers. Tight end Kevin Boss considered being on Hali’s side a bonus for signing with the Chiefs. Boss had to tangle against Hali last year while with the Raiders.

You know a defensive player is special when opposing offensive coordinators game-plan specifically to neutralize that player. Boss said that was the case in Oakland last year. Stopping Hali was the top priority.

“You knew guys like Tamba Hali,” Boss said in training camp. "We had to draw a big red circle to make sure we knew where he was at all times when we were playing against him.”

Be certain that somewhere deep within the halls of the Bills’ facility this week they are circling No. 91 in Chiefs red. The Falcons didn’t have to do that in Week 1, and the Chiefs paid for it.
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.
ALBANY, N.Y. -- I have lots of stuff still in the notebook from my time at New York Giants training camp. Our "Camp Confidential" on the Giants should roll out at some point today, and I have more stories and notes planned on the Giants for the early part of this week, even while I'm at Eagles and Redskins camp. But a lot of people -- Giants fans as well as Dallas Cowboys fans -- are asking about tight end Martellus Bennett, the former Cowboy who signed with the Giants at the start of free agency. So I thought a post on him was in order. This is what Giants GM Jerry Reese told me Saturday afternoon when I asked him about Bennett:
"I think he's going to really help our run game, because he's a tremendous blocker. We think he could be a good receiver, but what he gives us as a receiver is going to be a bonus. We think he can really help us get our run game going, because he's the blocking tight end that we haven't had. Jake [Ballard] was an okay blocker, Bear [Pascoe] has been an okay blocker. But Martellus could be a dominating blocker, and that's what we haven't had, really for a while. We haven't had a dominating guy since, like, Howard Cross."

Bennett's problem in Dallas was running his routes and holding onto the ball, but he always graded out as an excellent blocker. So it sounds as though the Giants did their homework here. And as Reese pointed out, it's not as though the Giants have been relying on their tight end as a huge part of the passing game the past few years anyway:
"We've had some young guys really do good jobs for us. Kevin Boss caught like 35, 45 balls. Then you get Jake in, he catches 35, 45 balls. Somebody else will do that. That's not a staple in our offense, the tight end. I think our offense is more receiver-oriented and back-oriented. Henry Hynoski caught a bunch of passes last year out of the backfield, our fullback. So there's different ways to skin a cat."

So now you know why the Giants signed Bennett and what they expect of him. As I said, much more to come.
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Examining a position group that could exceed its preseason expectations:

Last year, the Chiefs’ tight end position was fairly weak after second-year player Tony Moeaki went out with a torn ACL in the final preseason game.

Now, I think this unit can be one of the better groups in the NFL in 2012.

Moeaki is expected to be healthy. He was outstanding in nearly every facet as a rookie. He has great hands and can stretch the field. But the Chiefs’ success at tight end won’t end with Moeaki. Adopting the two-tight end philosophy of his former team -- New England -- Kansas City general manager Scott Pioli signed former Giants and Raiders tight end Kevin Boss. I love this pickup.

Boss is an underrated player who will be a perfect complement to Moeaki. I think these two tight ends will create matchup issues and give Kansas City’s offense an added dimension.
Kevin BossCourtesy of Kansas City ChiefsTight end Kevin Boss, who signed with Kansas City in the offseason, spent a week in Haiti this spring.
When Kevin Boss does charity work with children in the United States, the kids are often overwhelmed by the opportunity to spend time with an NFL player.

In Haiti, children are overwhelmed by the attention of anyone who takes the time to care.

There, Kevin Boss, the NFL player, carried little clout. Boss the human being, however, won over the hearts of dozens of children from one of the world’s most needy areas.

Weeks after the versatile tight end signed with the Kansas City Chiefs after being a salary-cap casualty in Oakland, Boss made a trip that was much more life-changing than the simple exchange of NFL colors. Moving from the Silver and Black to Arrowhead Stadium all became so secondary to the harsh reality of third-world living when Boss fulfilled a longtime goal of visiting Haiti.

The Oregon native took a week-long mission trip to an orphanage in a small, poor mountain town in Haiti this spring with childhood friend Denny Bain and Tennessee Titans linebacker Tim Shaw. Bain runs a non-profit organization, lovinghaiti.org, that helps an orphanage and school in the country.

[+] EnlargeKevin Boss
Courtesy of Kansas City ChiefsKevin Boss spent much of his time in Haiti working, teaching and playing with about 35 children.
“It was incredible,” Boss said in a phone interview this week. “I’m already thinking about going back. I told my wife the Haitian people have most beautiful smile in the world. They don’t have much but the clothes on their backs, but they have their smile. They melt your heart.”

Boss and his party spent nearly their entire week at the orphanage, working, teaching and playing with about 35 parent-less children. They also did significant physical work to improve the living conditions, including helping to install solar panels because electricity is so unreliable in the area. Boss’ group also built a wall around the area to boost security. He also made a nearly day-long trek for food and supplies during the trip and went to several church services with the residents of the area.

Although he has more missionary work planned, Boss, 28, wants to return to the same orphanage because of the incredible bond he forged with the children during his short stay.

“We played and laughed every day,” Boss said. “Those kids could care less that I play in the NFL. They don’t even know what the NFL is; they just appreciate people who help them. They cherished the opportunity for help.”

Of course, Boss and Shaw did bring some footballs to the children, and tried to get some games going. Yet the kids always turned the pigskin games into matches of their more familiar soccer. “All they wanted to do was kick the ball,” Boss chuckled.

Shortly after signing in Kansas City, Boss asked the Chiefs to donate several team shirts and hats for the children in addition to other clothing, including 100 pairs of new athletic shoes. Although the children were wowed by the bright-red clothes, the Chiefs memorabilia will serve a purpose much more than the showing of team pride.

“These kids need anything we could have given them,” Boss said. “Those clothes are important. I saw some kids who were in the same clothes for the entire week we were there. … The kids would run around and play soccer in their bare feet in the gravel. We’d flinch because it looked like it would hurt, but they are used to it.”

Now that he is back Stateside, Boss is concentrating on being a key cog in the Kansas City offense. He will back up Tony Moeaki (and provide strong injury insurance for Moeaki, coming off of a torn ACL) and will play often in multiple-tight end sets.

Boss has already been praised by his new teammates for his leadership.

“I’m excited about Kevin Boss,” Kansas City quarterback Matt Cassel said this week. "He’s a guy that’s come in and worked very hard. He’s a true professional, and he’s learned the offense quite quickly. It’s great to not only have him out there on the field, but also his leadership in the locker room. There are a lot of young guys here that are watching him work and respect the fact that he can go out there and work extremely hard each and every day.”

Although Cassel is getting to know and appreciate Boss for his skills as an NFL player, there is a group of children a world away who appreciate him for merely being human.
The Kansas City Chiefs are not set on a certain position for third-year player Dexter McCluster, so he is going back to the “OW” position he coined when he was drafted by the Chiefs.

Essentially, the Chiefs want to find a way for the electric McCluster to help. After playing mostly receiver as a rookie, the former second-round pick was primarily a running back last season. However, as Brian Daboll takes over as offensive coordinator, McCluster is getting more work as a receiver as they hope he truly becomes an offensive weapon.

McCluster was working at receiver last week during the Chiefs’ OTAs. Kansas City head coach Romeo Crennel said the Chiefs feel comfortable with what McCluster can do as a change-of-pace runner, but they want to see him as a receiver in Daboll’s offense.

“We’ve given Dexter reps at the wide receiver position in this new offense, because we feel like he knows how to play running back and we can put him over at running back at any point in time, but we felt like he needed the work at wide receiver,” Crennel told reporters last week. “Probably what that will do is open it up for us to be able to use him however and whenever. We need him at whatever position. He’s taken to it really well. He’s been enthusiastic about it, so that is working out pretty well for us.”

I checked in with Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. to get his thoughts on McCluster becoming a receiver again. The Chiefs have many offensive weapons, including fourth-round pick Devon Wylie. Like McCluster, Wylie is a small receiver, who is best suited for the slot position.

“I am torn on McCluster,” Williamson said. “I really want to see more. I am sure he will still get some carries here and there, but it seems to me that (Kansas City general manager Scott) Pioli wants a very wide range of receiving type options, from very small like McCluster to very big like tight end Kevin Boss, and a little something in between from small to large: Steve Breaston, Dwayne Bowe, Jon Baldwin and Tony Moeaki. Coming out of college, I thought McCluster was best as a slot receiver. We shall see. I expect Wylie to be quite good in that role as well.”

While the Chiefs have many options, it is time for McCluster to show where he best belongs in the equation.

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