NFL Nation: Tony Moeaki

Following up on Orton, Bills' moves

August, 30, 2014
Aug 30
11:00
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The Buffalo Bills got a head start on trimming their roster to 53 players, making 13 roster moves Friday.

Yet it's the one they haven't yet announced -- agreeing to terms with quarterback Kyle Orton -- that could have the biggest effect.

Here are some thoughts on that move and where the Bills stand entering Saturday's cut-down deadline at 4 p.m. ET:

Orton
Best backup QB available: For the time being, Orton was the best backup option on the open market. Like the Bills' hire of Jim Schwartz this offseason, when Schwartz was the best available defensive coordinator, it's a move that should be applauded. It took the Bills longer than it should have, but their backup quarterback situation is better than it was earlier this summer. It would have been more ideal if Orton was in Buffalo sooner and could have learned the playbook, but at 31, he's more experienced and a better bet if EJ Manuel suffers an injury.

Spotlight still on Manuel: Unless the Bills change their tune down the road, Orton isn't going to challenge Manuel for the starting job. So while they have one of the NFL's better backup quarterbacks, the Bills' overall quarterback situation still isn't where it needs to be. A few days ago, it was the worst in the NFL. Now it's in the bottom-third. It's hard to place the Bills' quarterback group any higher than that until Manuel proves in the regular season some of his preseason woes were a fluke or the product of a "vanilla" offense.

Punting situation problematic: The Bills cut veteran punter Brian Moorman after he ended the preseason with two sub-par performances. While the team claimed punter/kicker Jordan Gay off waivers, he only punted once in Thursday's game. The Bills didn't feel as though he was "ready" to punt yet and wanted to evaluate him more as a kickoff specialist. Whether that changes in the next eight days is not known. One way or the other, the Bills will need a punter for their opener in Chicago. Expect them to keep an eye on the waiver wire and try some players out. They had a similar situation at kicker around this time last season and struck gold with Dan Carpenter.

Parting with Cohen: Of the Bills' 13 roster moves Friday, the most surprising may have been the release of defensive tackle Landon Cohen. He quickly earned praised after signing early in training camp, proving to be a disruptive player in some of the Bills' preseason games. There are a few important factors to remember with Cohen: (1) He played mostly against lesser competition later in games, (2) He's a seventh-year, journeyman veteran who remained a free agent most of this offseason and should be available if needed during the regular season, and (3) The Bills likely only need two backups at defensive tackle and those roles were filled by Stefan Charles and Corbin Bryant. Cohen was a nice story during the preseason but he wouldn't have seen much, if any, playing time in the regular season.

Urbik on block? The Bills have already placed wide receiver T.J. Graham on the trade block, a source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Caplan, but he may not be the only player. Guard Kraig Urbik, who started 16 games last season, could also be available, according to a tweet from CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora. The Bills seemingly tried everything they could do to push Urbik out of the starting lineup this preseason, shuffling players in and out of his right guard spot. Eventually the return of Cordy Glenn at left tackle had the trickle-down effect of moving Erik Pears to right guard. That could be the final blow to Urbik.
PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Kyle Williams sat out Thursday's practice with a leg injury.

Williams watched the practice from the sideline, so the injury does not appear to be serious. Williams, 31, is a team captain and periodically receives rest days.

In his place, the Bills used Corbin Bryant next to Marcell Dareus at defensive tackle with their first-team defense. Stefan Charles and Landon Cohen were the pairing on the second team.

Meanwhile, cornerback Leodis McKelvin sat out Thursday's practice after leaving Wednesday's session with a groin injury. Doctors have yet to clear McKelvin to play in Saturday's preseason game.

Tight end Tony Moeaki (hamstring), cornerback Mario Butler (ankle), cornerback Bobby Felder (groin), and safety Jonathan Meeks (neck) also sat out Thursday's practice.

Bills Camp Report: Day 18

August, 6, 2014
Aug 6
7:30
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PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Buffalo Bills training camp:
  • Marcell Dareus' hamstring injury didn't appear to be anything major -- he stayed on the field and watched the remainder of practice -- but it's something that bears watching. The strength of the Bills defense is with its line, and any absence from Dareus, Kyle Williams, or Mario Williams would impact the rest of the unit. For now it looks like a minor issue, though.
  • Coming off his less than ideal performance Tuesday night, EJ Manuel looked better at points in Wednesday's practice. He rolled out and hit Robert Woods along the sideline early in the first 11-on-11 period. He also lofted a good pass down the right sideline later in practice but Mike Williams couldn't haul it in -- although cornerback Michael Carter might have gotten a hand on the ball. Otherwise, Manuel's passes were relegated to short-range throws.
  • The Bills offense was all over the map in red zone work. On the plus side, Manuel hit Mike Williams for a touchdown in 7-on-7 and lofted two well-thrown passes to Sammy Watkins and Scott Chandler that were either dropped or broken up. Jeff Tuel followed with a touchdowns to Lee Smith and Chris Gragg, as well as a beautiful one-handed grab by Woods in the end zone. On the negative end, Manuel badly overthrew Williams on a broken play where Williams was open in the end zone. On the next play, Manuel scrambled in the backfield and tried forcing a ball into coverage. He was intercepted by first-year safety Jajuan Harley.
  • Linebacker Brandon Spikes seemed to be dealing with a groin issue during 11-on-11 work. He reached for that area several times when he was on the field and was examined on the ground by trainers when he came off the field. Spikes returned to action but didn't appear 100 percent. Safeties Derek Brim and Kenny Ladler both spent time on exercise bikes during team drills, while safety Jonathan Meeks dealt with a neck injury.
  • Tight end Tony Moeaki (hamstring) and wide receiver Marquise Goodwin (hamstring) didn't take part in team drills. That could put their status for Friday's game in doubt.
  • Cornerback Leodis McKelvin wasn't in pads or a helmet for the the second straight day after beginning camp practicing with his teammates for at least a portion of practice. Asked if McKelvin had suffered a setback in his recovery from hip surgery, coach Doug Marrone said the team was simply following their plan with McKelvin.

Bills Camp Report: Day 17

August, 5, 2014
Aug 5
9:45
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PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Buffalo Bills training camp:
  • Tuesday night's practice saw the return of tight ends Scott Chandler and Tony Moeaki, as well as wide receiver Marquise Goodwin. None had played in Sunday's preseason game due to injury. Moeaki left practice about halfway through and came back without pads. Word after practice was that Moeaki didn't suffer a new injury and that the team only planned on having him participate in individual drills. Goodwin, meanwhile, was limited in team drills.
  • There was a heavy emphasis on the red zone in Wednesday's practice. The results weren't spectacular. In his second set of 11-on-11 reps, Manuel was sacked on his first two plays. The second play featured Manny Lawson pulling up in front of Manuel (no contact is allowed on quarterbacks) and standing there as Manuel continued to move his feet and read the defense for another second or two. It was an odd sight. Manuel found Lee Smith on the next play for a touchdown, one of just two we logged for Manuel in red zone drills. Some of Manuel's past problems cropped up Tuesday night, as he appeared to hold the ball too long on some plays while making questionable decisions (e.g. targeting Scott Chandler in double coverage in the end zone) on others. Overall, it was one of Manuel's poorer practices of camp.
  • Robert Woods' place in the offense has become a topic of conversation since he wasn't on the field with the first team offense Sunday night. Marrone said the Bills played Woods into the third quarter to get a look at him in the slot, although it may still be troubling for the second-round pick that Chris Hogan was the slot receiver with the first team Sunday night. On Tuesday night, Woods' snaps with Manuel continued to be limited. For one stretch in a red zone drill, it was Hogan, Sammy Watkins, and Mike Williams as the top combo.
  • Cyril Richardson saw more time with the first team in 11-on-11 drills Tuesday night. For now, it looks to be him and Kraig Urbik battling for that job. We haven't seen Chris Hairston in that spot in over a week.
  • Cornerback Leodis McKelvin did not participate in the practice. His case becomes more curious, as he began training camp participating in team drills and has seen his workload decrease ever since. McKelvin had offseason hip surgery which is apparently still affecting his ability to practice. Fellow cornerback Stephon Gilmore, who also had hip surgery and did not play in Sunday's game, participated in team drills Tuesday.
  • More injury updates: offensive lineman Edawn Coughman left practice with a strained oblique. Center Doug Legursky (back) and safety Derek Brim (hip) did not practice.
  • The Bills will practice Wednesday afternoon at 2 p.m. ET before traveling to Charlotte on Thursday. They play the Carolina Panthers on Friday night.

Bills Camp Report: Day 11

July, 30, 2014
Jul 30
8:00
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PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Buffalo Bills training camp:
  • Thunderstorms in the area caused a rain delay about in hour into practice. That lasted about an hour before players came back onto the field to complete the full-length session. Players were in full pads for the seventh consecutive practice, highlighting what has been a physical training camp for the Bills. It will be interesting to see if coach Doug Marrone dials it back at all in the final two practices before the preseason opener in Canton, Ohio.
  • The offensive line carousel continued to spin Wednesday with Chris Hairston leaving practice with a back injury. Hairston had been in the mix at right guard, where there is an open competition that includes incumbent Kraig Urbik. That battle added another participant Wednesday when fifth-round rookie Cyril Richardson received some reps with the first team. Urbik continues to get the majority of reps in team drills, but for a player whom the Bills signed to a four-year extension in 2012, he can't feel comfortable lining up alongside younger players on the second team, as he did at one point Wednesday.
  • The Bills have picked up the pace in the red zone. Marrone has implemented a 7-on-7 period at the end of practice dedicated to red-zone work, and results were impressive Wednesday. Although it was against the second-team defense, EJ Manuel completed four touchdowns in his five reps. Two went to Robert Woods, and tight ends Chris Gragg (returning from a week-long absence) and Lee Smith snagged the others. Jeff Tuel then stepped in and completed his first two passes for touchdowns. With some success in the 7-on-7 look, it might be time for Marrone to switch to an 11-on-11 drill and add a pass-rush element for Manuel to face in the red zone.
  • Tight end Scott Chandler (groin) remained out of practice for a second straight day, as did tight end Tony Moeaki (hamstring). Their injuries don't appear to be serious, but it has thinned the position for practices. The key for both players -- Moeaki especially, given his injury history -- will be to stay healthy once the regular season begins.
  • Chris Hogan continues to get significant playing time with the first-team offense and has become a reliable player in the slot. The Bills got in some 11-on-11 third-down work Wednesday and Hogan cut across the middle of the field for Manuel's biggest gain of the drill. Secondary coach Donnie Henderson, always vocal from behind the play, made it a point for his safeties to keep an eye out for No. 15.

Bills Camp Report: Day 7

July, 26, 2014
Jul 26
10:15
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PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Buffalo Bills training camp:
  • The Bills held Fred Jackson out of Saturday night's practice as he recovers from a lower leg injury. It's not considered serious and he isn't expected to miss much time. On the other hand, tight end Tony Moeaki is expected to miss "significant" time with a hamstring injury, according to coach Doug Marrone. It shouldn't keep Moeaki out for all of training camp, but the feeling is that his return might take a few weeks. With Chris Gragg still working his way back -- he was hospitalized for heat-related symptoms earlier this week -- the Bills signed tight end Dominique Jones on Saturday. The Bills waived offensive lineman Mark Asper to make room. Jones is a hefty 270 pounds and is built like a fullback. He's a different style player than Moeaki or Gragg.
  • We documented the offensive line's struggles in Saturday night's third-down drill earlier, but the issues weren't relegated to that portion of practice. When the offense reconvened for 11-on-11 work later, the results weren't much better. EJ Manuel's first series included a handoff to Anthony Dixon, a sack, a scramble, a pass batted down and an option run that ended in Manuel being stopped in the backfield by safety Da'Norris Searcy. His next set of reps started with a sack, then continued with a handoff, a completion to Marquise Goodwin, another handoff, and a throwaway on a rollout. It wasn't pretty, and all the blame can't go on the offensive line. There were a few plays in which I believed Manuel could have gotten rid of the ball and driven it downfield instead of waiting, tucking and running.
  • Saturday night featured the first live tackling drill of training camp. The 11-on-11 session featured a heavy dose of the running game, with Ronnie Wingo and Bryce Brown taking the majority of the carries. Wingo ran hard Saturday night. He has an uphill battle to make the 53-man roster but could get a heavy dose of touches in the preseason. Meanwhile, cornerback Ron Brooks and wide receiver Robert Woods collided on a pass route in the live tackling drill, with Brooks staying down on the field for several moments. He later returned to practice.
  • Undrafted rookie linebacker Jimmy Gaines received some first-team reps in team drills in place of Nigel Bradham, who stepped in with the second team for some parts of the drill. Gaines made his presence known on one play, diving to break up a Manuel pass to Brown in the flat. The Bills are trying to piece things together after losing Alonso for the season, and Gaines is the latest player in the mix. The favorite, and the most experienced of the bunch, remains Bradham.
  • For the second consecutive night, the Bills pushed practice a little longer -- to about 2 hours and 45 minutes -- and added a 7-on-7 red-zone drill at the end. Manuel received four reps, with the following results: a touchdown catch by Sammy Watkins (first down), a scramble to the pylon (second down), a catch by Woods out of bounds (third down), and scramble to the pylon with a defensive penalty (first down). Thad Lewis then stepped in for another four snaps, missing Kevin Elliott on two passes before connecting with Marcus Easley and Brown for back-to-back touchdowns. Given the Bills' struggles in the red zone last season, that phase of the game seems to appropriately be a point of emphasis this training camp.

W2W4: Bills at Patriots

December, 27, 2013
12/27/13
4:05
PM ET
The final hours of the Buffalo Bills' season are ticking away, but there is still one last game to play.

When the Bills travel to face the New England Patriots for Sunday's season finale, there's a few items coach Doug Marrone wants to check off the list.

First, the Bills have yet to win at Gillette Stadium since it opened in 2002. Second, the Bills have a chance to finish with a winning record in the division for the first time since 2007. And finally, a win Sunday would give Buffalo its first three-game winning streak since the first three games of the 2011 season.

That's what's on the line for the Bills in Foxborough, Mass. Here's what else to watch for:

1. Lewis' curtain call: With EJ Manuel sidelined for a second consecutive game with a knee sprain, backup Thad Lewis will make his fifth start of the season. Now 2-2, Lewis will have a chance to finish with a winning record as the starter. But more importantly, Lewis could be playing for his job next season. At this point, nothing seems guaranteed at quarterback for the Bills. If they bring in another option at the position this offseason, then Lewis could become the third quarterback -- if that role exists on the roster. In that sense, Sunday's game has some added importance for Lewis.

2. Swan song for Byrd? Could this be Jairus Byrd's final game with the Bills? The safety will become an unrestricted free agent this offseason, and unless the Bills decide to assign him as their franchise player, he will hit the open market. Either way, this will be Byrd's 73rd career game with the Bills. He has 353 tackles, 22 interceptions, 10 forced fumbles, and three sacks in his five-year career.

3. What about Chandler? This could also be the final game for tight end Scott Chandler with the Bills. Like Byrd, he becomes an unrestricted free agent this offseason and could find greener pastures elsewhere after a career season (50 catches for 600 yards). With Chandler's future uncertain, this could be the time for the Bills to debut tight end Tony Moeaki, who they signed three weeks ago. He was active for the first time last Sunday but did not play an offensive snap. It would make sense for the Bills to evaluate Moeaki in game action before deciding how he fits into their plans for next season.

4. Last chance for Williams, Meeks: With safety Aaron Williams placed on injured reserve Friday, the Bills are expected to use Jim Leonhard and Da'Norris Searcy in his place. Leonhard is a free agent after this season but played every snap in last Sunday's win. Meanwhile, Duke Williams and Jonathan Meeks -- who the Bills drafted in back-to-back rounds in April -- did not appear on defense, which has been the norm this season. Perhaps that changes Sunday. If not, it's a troubling sign at a position where the Bills could see turnover this offseason. It would make sense for Buffalo to evaluate their draft investments in what will be their final game until next August.

Johnson, Williams officially ruled out

December, 20, 2013
12/20/13
12:18
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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Wide receiver Stevie Johnson (personal) and safety Aaron Williams (ribs) have officially been ruled out for Sunday's game against the Miami Dolphins.

Williams
Williams
Johnson traveled to California following the death of his mother last weekend, and Williams was injured in last Sunday's win against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

"Aaron Williams loves football," Bills coach Doug Marrone said. "For that kid to be hurting, I mean he has ... I don't know if anybody has ever had that injury. I have. That's probably one of the most painful."

Meanwhile, Marrone said tight end Tony Moeaki, who has been inactive in two games since signing with Buffalo, will be active Sunday.

OUT
WR Stevie Johnson (personal; did not participate)
QB EJ Manuel (knee; did not participate)
S Aaron Williams (ribs; did not participate)

PROBABLE
DT Marcell Dareus (ankle; full participation)
RB Fred Jackson (ribs; full participation)
CB Brandon Smith (ankle; full participation)
DT Kyle Williams (Achilles; full participation)

Chiefs again make TE contingency plans

December, 5, 2013
12/05/13
2:13
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Few endeavors have been more hazardous this season than playing tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs. They're planning on playing Sunday against the Redskins in Washington without starter Anthony Fasano, who has a concussion.

Alford
Fasano
Offensive coordinator Doug Pederson said the Chiefs would activate 270-pound Dominique Jones off their practice squad in time for Sunday's game to take Fasano's place. Jones played last season and early this year with the Indianapolis Colts.

"He's a guy who's been here," Pederson said. "He's got some experience. He's going to have some opportunity to play this weekend and we're looking forward to getting him out there and still using our two tight-end sets."

The Chiefs went to training camp with Fasano, Tony Moeaki and rookie Travis Kelce as their tight ends. Fasano missed four games earlier in the season with knee and ankle injuries. Moeaki injured his shoulder during the preseason, was waived and only this week was healthy enough to sign with the Buffalo Bills.

Kelce injured his knee during the preseason and is out for the season.

The Chiefs added Sean McGrath at tight end at the start of the regular season. He has played in all 12 games.

Injury luck hasn't been all it seems

October, 23, 2013
10/23/13
4:15
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs had each of their 53 players available for practice Wednesday, an unusual occurrence this time of the season. The Chiefs also had everybody available to them for practice last Friday and for last Sunday's game against the Houston Texans.

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

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

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

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

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

"Some of it is chance. Sometimes you get those things. It happens. Sometimes they come in waves. That's how it works."
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs drafted tight end Travis Kelce in the third round this year in large part because of his ability to line up in a variety of positions, get down the field to catch passes and create matchup problems.

Kelce
They won't get any of that this season from Kelce. He had surgery to repair a microfracture in his knee this week and on Saturday was placed on the injured-reserve list, ending his season.

The Chiefs promoted an undrafted rookie safety, Bradley McDougald, from their practice squad to take his place.

The loss of Kelce means two of the top three Chiefs tight ends heading into training camp are done for the season. The Chiefs lost Tony Moeaki during the preseason with a shoulder injury.

The third tight end, Anthony Fasano, has played in just two games because of knee and ankle injuries. Fasano is unlikely to play in Sunday's game against the Oakland Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium.

The Chiefs are left with Sean McGrath and Kevin Brock at tight end. McGrath was pulled off waivers from Seattle at the start of the season but has 15 catches and a touchdown. Brock is a journeyman who has two receptions.
Most significant moves: The Raiders were one of the more intriguing teams in the NFL on cut-down day because they have so many holes and ongoing competitions. There were a lot of significant moves. The Raiders are desperate for pass-rushers, and they cut two who were expected to make contributions. Veteran Andre Carter (expected to be a leader on a young team) and seventh-round pick David Bass were cut. Coach Dennis Allen recently said the team was counting on Bass. Tight end Richard Gordon had a chance to start, particularly because he is a good blocker on a team with a bad offensive line, but he was cut. Jeron Mastrud is the starter for now with David Ausberry coming back from a shoulder injury. The punting battle has yet to be settled. Both veteran Chris Kluwe and youngster Marquette King were kept. Either Oakland will let the two battle it out another week or cut one of them when the team makes roster additions. Perhaps the Raiders are even trying to swing a trade. Since King has made it this far, he might stick around. The team wanted to see improved consistency and he has shown it.

Crowded quarterback room: The Raiders are keeping four quarterbacks. The team kept both fourth-round pick Tyler Wilson of Arkansas and undrafted free agent Matt McGloin of Penn State. It would be highly unusual for a team to keep four quarterbacks. Some just keep two. That’s three players who most likely won’t be playing on game day. That is not ideal for a team with major depth issues. McGloin outperformed Wilson and became the No. 3 quarterback. But the decision to keep Wilson comes down to the Raiders not waiting to give up on a quarterback who was a fourth-round pick. I understand. It would be admitting a huge mistake, and perhaps Wilson (many thought he could push to start as a rookie during the offseason) will figure things out. Keeping four quarterbacks adversely affects this roster. The truth is, none of the current quarterbacks in Oakland -- including Matt Flynn and Terrelle Pryor -- may be the ultimate answer for the franchise. But the Raiders are reluctant to make any decisions now.

What’s next: The Raiders are thin and will likely look for players for the next several weeks. I would not be surprised if this team adds four or five players this week. Prime need areas are tight end, the offensive line and pass-rusher. There are a lot of interesting tight ends available, including Tony Moeaki (talented, but injured), D.J. Williams (who was in Green Bay with Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie) and Clay Harbor. Possible offensive line targets include Jake Scott and Danny Watkins.

Players cut: DE Andre Carter, LB Omar Gaither, CB Joselio Hanson, T Tony Hills, S Reggie Smith, DL Ryan Baker, DE David Bass, LB Billy Boyko, CB Chance Casey, G Jason Foster, TE Richard Gordon, WR Greg Jenkins, S Shelton Johnson, TE Brian Leonhardt, G Lamar Mady, K Justin Medlock, DT Kurt Taufa'asau, LB Chase Thomas, WR Conner Vernon, RB Deonte Williams and T Willie Smith. G Tony Bergstrom was put on injured reserve. WR Andre Holmes is serving a four-game NFL suspension.
Andy Reid has given no indication how much the starters will play for the Kansas City Chiefs tonight or whether they will play at all. A series or two on each side of the ball against the Green Bay Packers at Arrowhead Stadium probably wouldn’t hurt, but the starters received enough work in last week’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers to carry them over to next week’s regular-season opener.

Whether or not the starters play, the Chiefs have some things they should accomplish tonight. Some offensive production wouldn’t be a bad idea. The Chiefs have just three offensive touchdowns in three games, and one of those happened in overtime, after the game should have been over, against the Steelers.

Likewise, the defense hasn’t been very productive in helping the offense in terms of favorable field position. A defense predicated on pressure has created two turnovers, one forced by the starters and the other by reserves.

Here are some other things the Chiefs might like to resolve tonight:
  • Energize the running game. The four Chiefs' running backs are averaging a collective 2.44 yards per carry with none being better than Knile Davis at 2.8. This being the preseason, that might not be so alarming if the Chiefs weren’t getting physically handled so often up front. The Chiefs tried to convert on successive plays needing one yard last week with Jammal Charles, but he never had a chance either time.
  • Play the rookies. The Chiefs are counting on tackle Eric Fisher, tight end Travis Kelce and Davis, among other first-year players. Each could use some work. Fisher rebounded from his miserable game against the 49ers two weeks ago to play better against the Steelers. But he’s still a work in progress and would benefit from some snaps tonight. Kelce, who didn’t play in Pittsburgh because of a sore knee, suddenly looms as an important piece after Tony Moeaki's shoulder injury. He likewise needs additional work. Davis has played a lot of snaps in the three games, but he’s still refining his abilities, particularly as a receiver and pass-blocker. Among the undrafted rookies, wide receiver Rico Richardson had a nice training camp, and with a strong showing could convince the Chiefs he should be on the regular-season roster. The same goes for tight end Demetrius Harris.
  • Find a fourth cornerback. Beyond Brandon Flowers, Sean Smith and Dunta Robinson, none of the cornerbacks has made a strong claim for a roster spot. The Chiefs are so desperate for help that last week they used a safety, Husain Abdullah, as their nickel back. So it’s possible a roster spot could be had by a younger cornerback like Kennard Cox if he plays well tonight.
  • What about Bray? Fans who didn’t see Tyler Bray at training camp can rightly wonder what the big deal is about the rookie quarterback. Bray has been mediocre in the preseason, completing less than half of his passes and no gain of more than 17 yards. His signature play was a fumble in New Orleans. He figures to get a lot of snaps tonight, enough to allow him to show his abilities. Bray is a solid third on the quarterback depth chart, so nothing he can do tonight will affect that. But young quarterbacks with his skills don’t come to Kansas City very often, unless they’re playing for the visiting team.

This is why the Kansas City Chiefs drafted tight end Travis Kelce in the third round.

Tony Moeaki is dealing with yet another injury. Kansas City coach Andy Reid said Monday that Moeaki, a fourth-year tight end, suffered a fractured shoulder at Pittsburgh on Saturday. It is not known how long Moeaki will be out. But it could be a significant injury.

This is nothing new for Moeaki. He was injury-prone at Iowa, and missed the entire 2011 season after tearing his ACL in the preseason. He came back last season, but dealt with several injuries and finished with 33 catches.

The field-stretching Moeaki had a terrific rookie season with 47 catches. He is a matchup problem and he has fine hands. But sadly, injuries have made him unreliable.

That’s why Kelce was taken. He is expected to play a lot with starter Anthony Fasano, who was signed in free agency. If Moeaki can work his way back, the Chiefs will have a strong group of tight ends, but this injury is another reminder of his issues.
The Chiefs are going to be better on offense in 2013. The wide receivers -- outside of Dwayne Bowe -- are a concern, but the team will be better coached on that side of the ball and have a better quarterback, offensive line and improved tight-end play. The Chiefs probably will have a more timely and effective rushing attack, too.

Andy Reid’s track record as an offensive creator and play-caller speaks for itself. The Chiefs' new head coach will coordinate a West Coast offense with a high percentage of passing plays, but with less predictability than we saw in Kansas City last season. The Chiefs will throw safe timing passes to set up the run while also taking a few shots deep downfield. The running backs should catch plenty of passes.

I am not the biggest Alex Smith fan -- and he certainly has some passing limitations -- but his skill set is a good fit for what Reid wants to do. Smith will get the ball out quickly -- and most importantly, we can pretty much guarantee that he will make fewer mistakes than Matt Cassel did a year ago. Turnovers from the quarterback position crippled this team in 2012. Smith will also throw more for the Chiefs than he did with San Francisco. Kansas City also brought in a high-end backup quarterback, Chase Daniel.

After Kansas City selected Eric Fisher first overall in April's draft, the offensive line should be one of the better groups in the NFL and should have with two outstanding offensive tackles, even though Fisher is just a rookie. Overall, there is excellent line depth. This group is quite athletic, which is key in getting out on screens and other movement-based plays that Reid likes to dial up.

Tony Moeaki’s health is always a question mark, but the Chiefs could have the best threesome of tight ends in football, and Reid is sure to use a lot of double- and even triple-tight-end sets. Anthony Fasano is an underrated addition as an edge blocker, which is key for a runner like Jamaal Charles. Moeaki is also a reliable target. I am also extremely high on Travis Kelce.

Knile Davis doesn’t excite me, and I thought there were better running back choices on the draft board when Kansas City selected him, but he does possess a rare combination of size and speed. But Charles is the guy you want on your fantasy football (as well as NFL!) team; the only back in the league whom I forecast to have more production this year is Adrian Peterson. Although Reid isn’t a run-first coach, he certainly has shown he knows how to use backs like LeSean McCoy and Brian Westbrook. Charles is similar, but with much better pure speed.

The Chiefs’ offense does have some areas of concern, but this unit will be noticeably better in 2013.

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