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The Chiefs have at times held out running back Jamaal Charles, tight end Tony Moeaki and safety Eric Berry from training-camp practices. But coach Romeo Crennel said the three players would participate in not only today’s joint practice with Arizona but also Friday night’s preseason game against the Cardinals at Arrowhead Stadium.

“We will continue to manage those guys as well, but I think it’s important for them to get reps in the game to begin to find out where they are and how they feel and how those injuries are recovering for them,’’ Crennel said. “So we’ll give them some time and we’ll see how it goes.’’

The Chiefs have not returned a punt for a touchdown since Dexter McCluster ignited a 21-14 season-opening win with a club-record 94-yarder against San Diego on Sept. 13, 2010, a stretch of 97 punt returns by 11 players over 31 games.

“We know it’s been a while since one has happened,” McCluster said. “We feel we have a strong corps, special-teamswise, and a new coach to show us the way and how to do things.”

How important will it be for the Chiefs to take a kick return the distance?

Kansas City opens the 2012 preseason with a matchup vs. the Arizona Cardinals at Arrowhead Stadium on Friday, Aug. 10 with kickoff slated for 7 p.m. The Chiefs are coming off of a 7-9 season and are set to begin Romeo Crennel’s first full season as head coach. He took over for the fi nal three games of the 2011 campaign, leading the Chiefs to a 2-1 record, including a victory over the previously undefeated Green Bay Packers in Week 15 in Crennel’s first game as head coach.

Arizona finished 8-8 last season, rebounding after a 1-6 start to go 7-2 over the fi nal nine games of the season. Friday’s contest will mark their second game in a six-day span after falling 17-10 to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday evening in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio.

But all his experience with the turbulent system of free agency went out the window when Romeo Crennel saw Eric Winston listed on the league’s waiver wire last March. And for the first time in a long time, the veteran head coach let himself think about what adding an outside player like Winston would mean for his team.

“We said, ‘Hey, this guy is a starter and somebody we should be interested in,” Crennel remembered during Saturday’s press conference. “You make your telephone calls and those kinds of things and see if you can get the guy in and visit and talk to him to find out what kind of person he is, if he’ll be interested in those kinds of things. That’s the process we went through.”

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