NFL Nation: Steve Breaston

The New Orleans Saints still are looking for depth at wide receiver after losing Joe Morgan to a season-ending injury.

The team reportedly has signed veteran Patrick Crayton. That comes a week after the team signed another veteran, Steve Breaston. Rookie Kenny Stills and second-year pro Nick Toon also are in the mix for the backup jobs behind Marques Colston and Lance Moore.

Crayton, 34, hasn’t played in the NFL since the 2011 season. But he has some history with coach Sean Payton, who was an assistant in Dallas for the first two seasons of Crayton’s career.
METAIRIE, La. -- The first thing I noticed when watching the New Orleans Saints practice was the silence.

There was no messing around and no coaches screaming at players. Instead, the Saints looked like a veteran team that is intensely focused -- more focused than last year, when chaos surrounded the entire season. Maybe even more focused than in 2009, when the Saints eventually won their first Super Bowl championship.

The quiet practices are a firm sign that coach Sean Payton is back in charge and that this team wants to put last season as far in the past as possible. The bounty scandal that led to the season-long suspension of Payton and a disappointing 7-9 record is over, and the Saints want to return to their winning ways.

“Last year was an apparition," quarterback Drew Brees said. “It was a different time with all the situations that had taken place. This year, just knowing that we’ve got everybody here, this is our team. Nobody’s missing. This is the team that can accomplish great things, and there’s a lot of work that needs to be done. Here’s our window of time to bring it together. We know there’s going to be tough times. We know there’s going to be adversity. Build that attitude, build that chemistry, and get ready to make a run at it.”

Payton’s return alone should make a big difference. He’s one of the league’s best coaches and possesses a brilliant offensive mind. After watching his team from a distance last year, Payton had some strong critiques for his players, even the superstars.

Soon after Payton was reinstated, he called tight end Jimmy Graham and told him that a season in which he caught 85 passes but led the league in drops, according to ESPN Stats & Information, wasn’t good enough.

“First, he called me and I didn’t recognize the number so I didn’t pick it up," Graham said. “He was pretty mad because it took like two or three days for me to call him back. The conversation was very serious, talking about his expectations for me and the things that I need to correct from last year and how he’s ready to be back. He’s ready to see my growth even more."

Payton needs to see growth from more than Graham. He’s made it clear that he wants to run the ball more often and that the Saints have to be substantially better on defense.

If the Saints can combine those things with Brees and the passing game, they should be right back in playoff contention.

THREE HOT ISSUES

1. The defensive overhaul. Payton is an offensive guru, but the first order of business upon his reinstatement was to replace defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo with Rob Ryan. Spagnuolo’s defense never caught on in New Orleans, and the Saints finished last season ranked No. 32 in total defense.

The Saints aren’t just switching coordinators. They’re switching schemes. With Payton’s blessing, Ryan is installing a 3-4 scheme. The pass rush now will have to come from the outside linebackers, particularly Junior Galette, Will Smith and Martez Wilson, a trio of guys that previously played defensive end.

The secondary also is going through some major changes. The Saints signed free-agent cornerback Keenan Lewis and drafted safety Kenny Vaccaro in the first round.

The defense will look a lot different because Ryan uses a lot of exotic looks. If the results are different from last season, the Saints will be in good shape.

[+] EnlargeMark Ingram
Derick E. Hingle/US PresswireThere won't be any excuses for Mark Ingram this season, as the Saints plan to keep him involved in their running game.
Ingram’s time? Payton repeatedly has said the Saints need to get back to running the ball more efficiently. They were good in that area in their Super Bowl season but got away from the run last season.

There really is no reason the Saints shouldn’t be able to get production from the running game. They have a good offensive line and three talented running backs -- Mark Ingram, Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas.

The real wild card is Ingram. Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis used a first-round pick on Ingram in 2011, but he hasn’t produced a lot in his first two years. I think Payton is going to make it a point to give Ingram more carries this season.

A new age of receivers. A few years ago, the Saints had a receiving corps as deep as any in the league, which came in handy because they use so many three- and four-receiver sets. But Robert Meachem and Devery Henderson left over the past two seasons. Joe Morgan, who had been ticketed for the third receiver spot, suffered a season-ending injury in camp.

That leaves starters Marques Colston and Lance Moore as the only sure things. Beyond them, there’s a lot of uncertainty. But the Saints hope veteran Steve Breaston, who was signed this week, and second-year pro Nick Toon, who missed his rookie season with an injury, can fill the void.

REASON FOR OPTIMISM

Any team that has Brees as its quarterback is going to be competitive. With weapons such as Graham, Colston and Sproles, the Saints are going to score plenty of points. It would be difficult for the defense to be any worse than last season.

If the Saints can just put a middle-of-the-pack defense on the field, they can be a dangerous team.

REASON FOR PESSIMISM

Rob Ryan
Derick E. Hingle/USA TODAY SportsRob Ryan will bring an aggressive new 3-4 attack to New Orleans, but do the Saints have the proper personnel to run it effectively off the bat?
The Saints already have had some tough breaks when it comes to injuries. Defensive end Kenyon Coleman and outside linebacker Victor Butler, who were brought in specifically to fill important roles in Ryan’s defensive scheme, already have suffered season-ending injuries.

Ryan is an aggressive coach, and the 3-4 has had plenty of success around the league in recent years. But I’m not sure Ryan has the personnel to make this defense succeed. It could take another offseason to get this defense fully stocked.

OBSERVATION DECK

One of the brightest spots in training camp has been the play of second-year defensive lineman Akiem Hicks. I saw him make several big plays during my visit. Hicks is going to get his chance to shine in the regular season, and with Coleman out, it looks like he'll be a starter at defensive end.

In another sign that the Saints are serious about running the ball more, Graham has bulked up. The tight end said he now weighs about 270 pounds and that he’s focusing on becoming a better blocker.

The Saints have a history of finding unheralded running backs who end up making a contribution (see Chris Ivory and Travaris Cadet). They might have found another one in Khiry Robinson, an undrafted free agent out of West Texas A&M. Robinson has flashed big-play ability in camp. The Saints have so much depth at running back that it might be tough for him to make the roster, but he could end up on the practice squad.

There was some thought that Jason Smith, a former first-round pick by the St. Louis Rams, could end up as the starting left tackle. But it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen. Charles Brown has been getting virtually all the first-team work. Smith has fallen to third on the depth chart and is working behind rookie Terron Armstead. It’s looking like Smith might not even make the roster.

In recent years, the Saints have brought rookie defensive backs along slowly. Malcolm Jenkins and Patrick Robinson didn’t play significant roles in their first seasons. But I don’t think the Saints are going to be cautious with Vaccaro. Whether it’s at one of the safety spots or as the nickelback, Vaccaro is going to play a lot this season.
Three things to watch for when the New Orleans Saints play the Kansas City Chiefs on Friday:

1. The wide receivers. With Joe Morgan lost for the season, the competition for the third wide receiver spot is wide open. Veteran Steve Breaston was brought in, but the Saints want to take an extended look at some of their young receivers, including Nick Toon and Kenny Stills.

2. The backup quarterbacks. Drew Brees likely will make only a quick appearance because the Saints are well aware of what he can do. But they need to get a look at Luke McCown and Seneca Wallace in game conditions. McCown might have a slight edge because Wallace missed some practice time with an injury, but this competition remains wide open.

3. The left tackles. Charles Brown has gotten virtually all of the first-team work in training camp. But he doesn’t have the starting job locked down just yet. Brown needs to perform well under game conditions and the Saints also want to take a look at rookie Terron Armstead.
METAIRIE, La. -- The New Orleans Saints got a double dose of bad news Wednesday.

Receiver Joe Morgan will miss the season with a knee injury, coach Sean Payton said. Payton also said it’s likely defensive end Kenyon Coleman will miss the season with a pectoral injury. Payton said Morgan was scheduled for surgery Wednesday, and Coleman likely will have surgery Thursday.

The loss of Coleman is substantial. He was expected to start at defensive end. Coleman is the second projected starter to suffer a season-ending injury. Outside linebacker Victor Butler suffered a season-ending injury during offseason workouts.

With Coleman out, the Saints are likely to take a long look at second-year pro Akiem Hicks, who has been working at both defensive end spots and defensive tackle.

Morgan had appeared to be the leader in the competition for the No. 3 receiver spot. Veteran Steve Breaston and second-year pro Nick Toon are likely to be next in line to compete for the third spot.

Saints add WR Steve Breaston

August, 5, 2013
8/05/13
3:03
PM ET
Bush
Breaston
Desperate for healthy wide receivers, the New Orleans Saints agreed to terms with veteran Steve Breaston on Monday, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Starter Marques Colston has yet to practice this camp. Joe Morgan, who appeared to have the lead for the No. 3 receiver spot, went down with an unspecified injury in a scrimmage Saturday.

Breaston, 29, has spent six seasons in the league with Arizona and Kansas City, but was limited to only seven receptions with the Chiefs last year. Still, Breaston provides some insurance, even if it’s only temporary.

If Colston and Morgan get healthy, Breaston may not make the roster.
When Steve Breaston was released by the Kansas City Chiefs last week, it looked like it would only be a matter of time before the wide receiver signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers considering his history with Todd Haley. Not so fast.

Bush
Breaston
The Browns, along with the Cowboys, Titans and Lions have also expressed interest in Breaston. Soon, he'll have more suitors than passes caught last season (seven). Breaston is expected to visit Cleveland this week, according to The Plain Dealer.

The Steelers would value Breaston because of his familiarity with Haley's system. He played under Haley in Arizona and Kansas City. The problem is, the Browns can get Breaston if they want him. Cleveland has the second-most cap room in the league while Pittsburgh is about $14 million over the cap.

The Browns could see Breaston as an option to replace Josh Cribbs as a returner and backup receiver. Breaston returned punts in his first three seasons in the NFL, averaging 7.8 yards and scoring one touchdown. Cleveland, though, has another option in Travis Benjamin, a fourth-round pick from a year ago.

I still see the Steelers as the favorite to land Breaston. That is, if they can create enough cap room to get a deal done.

"I know of the Pittsburgh tradition and the winning ways, and it would be a great team to be involved with, but for me, it is all about using this process," Breaston told The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review last week. "I have to take everything in and see what would be a good fit for me and where I can come in and play."
The Pittsburgh Steelers won't be able to sign many free agents with their salary-cap situation. But one who will certainly interest them is wide receiver Steve Breaston, who was cut by the Chiefs on Tuesday.

A favorite of Todd Haley, Breaston played under him in Arizona and then followed him to Kansas City in 2011. Haley is now the offensive coordinator for the Steelers, so it's not difficult to connect some dots.

The Steelers are going to have a void at wide receiver because they're not expected to sign Mike Wallace. Emmanuel Sanders would likely be elevated to the starting lineup but there are concerns whether he is durable enough to start a full season.

Breaston, 29, is a solid slot receiver who isn't as big of a playmaker as Wallace but he has been dependable in Haley's offense. Breaston averaged 60 catches from 2008-11 before falling out of favor with Romeo Crennel last season. Breaston caught a career-low seven passes for 74 yards and zero touchdowns in 2012. His base salary for the 2013 season was $3.8 million but he will be had for a much cheaper price this offseason.
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.

Branden Albert out for Chiefs

November, 25, 2012
11/25/12
12:10
PM ET
The Kansas City Chiefs will be without left tackle Branden Albert on Sunday against the Denver Broncos, and their dynamic pass-rush.

Albert has a back injury that forced him to leave last week’s game. He was doubtful to play Sunday. Rookie Donald Stephenson will start for Albert and he will have to deal with Denver star pass-rusher Von Miller, who has 13 sacks. The Chiefs did get some good news. Center Ryan Lilja (knee) will play Sunday, after missing last week’s game.

In a less-impactful decision, but an interesting one, receiver Jamar Newsome is active, a day after being promoted from the practice squad. He is active over veteran Steve Breaston, a former key cog in this offense, and fourth-round pick Devon Wylie. The Chiefs cut offensive lineman Rich Ranglin to make room for Newsome.

For Denver, cornerback Tracy Porter is inactive for the sixth straight game. He was probable after practicing this past week, but will not be on the field Sunday.

In other AFC West news:

Oakland backup running back Taiwan Jones, who was questionable with an ankle injury, is active in Cincinnati. Oakland needs Jones because of major injuries at the position.

As expected, the Raiders promoted linebacker Kaelin Burnett from practice squad. He fills spot left open by the release of linebacker Aaron Curry.

Also as expected, San Diego promoted tackle Kevin Haslam from the practice squad. He took the place of left tackle Jared Gaither, who went on the injured reserve Friday.

Chiefs DE Glenn Dorsey is out Sunday

September, 30, 2012
9/30/12
12:03
PM ET
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.

The maturation of Jon Baldwin

August, 24, 2012
8/24/12
12:00
PM ET
Jon BaldwinShane Keyser/Kansas City Star/Getty ImagesJon Baldwin has made highlight-film catches on a regular basis in training camp.

A year ago, the Kansas City Chiefs could have been forgiven if they had buyer’s remorse after drafting receiver Jon Baldwin with the No. 26 overall pick.

The pick was somewhat surprising because the team had other needs and the supremely athletic Baldwin was considered a player who had the potential to be an off-field problem after some issues while at the University of Pittsburgh.

Then, at the end of his first NFL training camp, Baldwin was reportedly involved in a locker-room scuffle with then-Chiefs running back Thomas Jones. Baldwin suffered a broken thumb in the incident, which impacted his rookie season severely. It wasn’t a great start to a career that was being scrutinized anyway.

A year later, however, the Chiefs are not questioning the decision to draft Baldwin. They view Baldwin the same way they did when they drafted him. They think he can be a dynamic player who can make an impact on a varied offense because of his ability as a deep threat.

Most important, the Chiefs like the way Baldwin is developing off the field. Many people in the Chiefs’ camp raved about the improvement in the way Baldwin, who turned 23 this month, is handling himself this year.

“I think he has matured a lot in the past year,” Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel said late in training camp. “I really like the way he has handled himself.”

[+] EnlargeKansas City's Jon Baldwin
AP Photo/Seth Perlman"I think he has matured a lot in the past year," Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel said of Jon Baldwin.
Baldwin took advantage of extra repetitions in the offseason program and in training camp with No. 1 reciver Dwayne Bowe holding out. Bowe reported to the team last Friday and the Chiefs are hopeful he will be ready to make an impact in Week 1. Either way, expect Baldwin to be part of the starting mix when the Chiefs begin the season.

The team was impressed that Baldwin hunkered down and gleaned as much information and knowledge as possible from veteran receivers Steve Breaston and Terrance Copper. They are two of the more respected veterans on the roster because of their professional approach. For a player who needed to gain his team’s trust, it seems Baldwin has done just that this summer.

“Jon has done a great job of taking to the coaching that has been given to him,” Chiefs receivers coach Nick Sirianni said during training camp. “He takes his weaknesses and turns them into strengths. He comes to practice every day, just like all of our guys. He’s a professional trying to improve every day.”

The key to his success, Baldwin said, has been his study habits. He is working at learning the pro game.

“I take a lot of notes at night. I study those notes so that I don’t come back and make the same mistake,” Baldwin said. “That is one thing Coach Nick jars on; don’t make the same mistake twice. Being able to study my mistakes, and come out the next day to execute the mistake that I made the day before. I just make plays, and if there are any corrections needed, I go make the corrections and get better tomorrow.”

Labeled as a “wide target" by quarterback coach Jim Zorn, the 6-foot-4, 230 pound receiver has made highlight film catches on a regular basis in training camp. Baldwin, who showed flashes of brilliance late in his rookie season, has one catch in the preseason, but he hasn’t been targeted much. Still, quarterback Matt Cassel has praised Baldwin for stretching the field and keeping defenses honest in the preseason.

Expect the targets to rise dramatically for Baldwin in September. There is no doubt Cassel, who has taken Baldwin under his wing since shortly after he was drafted, is a Baldwin believer.

“Unfortunately, he was out with an injury for the first six games of the season,” Cassel said. “This year we had a whole offseason to work together and also all of camp. I feel very comfortable with Jon. He’s making a lot of progress himself.”

Baldwin credits a strong relationship with his quarterback for helping him becoming a better player.

“We talk a lot,” Baldwin said of himself and Cassel. “He tells me where he wants me to be on certain things and we talk back and forth. It makes the communication a lot better with him. He understands where I’m going to be on certain routes. I know where he’s going to put the ball on certain routes. That makes it a lot better for the both of us.

“The main thing is trust. One thing I always say to him is that I’m going to try to make every play possible. He understands that and just gives me a chance to make a play. I try to make as many plays as I possibly can for him.”

If the maturation of Baldwin continues, the Chiefs will never regret their once-questioned decision to draft him.
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.
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- If I had to judge an early winner in the Dwayne Bowe-Kansas City Chiefs standoff, it would have to be the team.

Why?

Because the Chiefs are moving along business as usual as the receiver continues to stay away. In my first day around the Chiefs this summer, I haven’t gotten the sense that they are overly fretting about Bowe's absence. The focus is on hosting the Atlanta Falcons on Sept. 9 -- not on Bowe’s whereabouts.

The offense is learning the system of new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, and it is apparently learning it quickly and successfully. The first-team offense scored two touchdowns in two possessions in the preseason opener, a 27-17 victory over Arizona on Friday, and all three offensive units performed well in the game.

Second-year receiver Jon Baldwin has been a camp star; fellow veteran receivers Steve Breaston and Terrance Copper have been model professionals. All are clicking with quarterback Matt Cassel, as are young slot receivers Dexter McCluster and Devon Wylie.

Coach Romeo Crennel has said often that he is only worrying about the players who are in camp. I believe that. I don’t get the feeling Crennel and Daboll are pulling their hair out at night because Bowe is not ready to sign his franchise tender.

Don’t get me wrong, I know the Chiefs would prefer to have Bowe in camp. He’s a talented player and he’d make the offense better. But they aren’t waiting for him.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the Chiefs feel the same way about Bowe’s holdout as I do. It’s pointless. There really isn’t much to be gained for Bowe, who can’t sign a new deal until after the season.

He has to perform well in 2012 if he is going to get a new deal, whether it’s from the Chiefs or from another team in unrestricted free agency (if the Chiefs don’t franchise him again if they can't agree on an extension).

The longer Bowe -- who is expected to show up shortly before the start of the regular season -- waits to report, the more difficult it will be for him to have a great season. He has had issues with coming into camp in shape before and it is going to take him time to get into football shape. Plus, he has to learn Daboll’s style. But if Bowe ends his holdout soon, he has a chance to be a major factor come Week 1.

If not, his chances of making an impact early in the season will dissipate quickly -- and that means if he heads to free agency next year, he will have more dings on a resume that already has a few blotches.

While Bowe is risking future earning,s the Chiefs refuse to stand around and wait for him.
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.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

NFL SCOREBOARD