More than one eyebrow raised when the Chiefs released their final roster and revealed both Nate Eachus and Jake O’Connell had made the cut with no fullback in sight (with four tight ends and five tailbacks, if there was any doubt remaining you’re going to see the Ace formation this year, it has be thoroughly squashed). Because Tamba Hali does not count among the final 53 this week due to his Atlanta game suspension, one more player must be cut or moved to the practice squad next week – which very well be one of these nine TEs/RBs.
This roster is not set in tone. As preseason injuries have conjured up one too many bad memories reminiscent of 2011, it’s important to remember several serviceable players become available every year as teams promote younger, cheaper replicas of their former starters (New England has been cutting former stars like crazy in some hyper-youth movement evil genius Bill Bellicheck no doubt began planning in a secluded laboratory five years ago). As such, there’s a small list of players on the back nine portion of their careers that I wouldn’t mind kicking the tires on, just in case.
With O-Linemen Jeff Allen and Donald Stephenson available to step up and play inside and outside, respectively, I’m comfortable with the talent level here. And fortunately there have been no big injury concerns for Kansas City on the offensive line. However, a couple options exist that the Chiefs should keep in mind because, quite frankly, merely having a backup guard and another tackle doesn’t create a glut of depth. 31-year-old guard Jake Scott has started 117 of the 120 games he’s played in (including a Super Bowl victory with Indianapolis over Chicago in 2007), and doesn’t give up sacks. Worth kicking the tires on.
Also to keep in mind is Trai Essex, released by the Steelers. Essex offers a solid flex potential having played right and left tackles, left guard, and center in the NFL. Center Dan Koppen, one of the Patriots’ several cuts, has started 120 games over nine years with one Pro Bowl appearance. His smaller size doesn’t offer the same versatility, but should Rodney Hudson ever go down, he would bring experience and a solid run-blocking acumen to the team. Finally available on the line, right tackle Kareem McKenzie won his second Super Bowl with the Giants last season before being released. All with tires exhibiting worn tread, but still worth kicking.
While the Chiefs’ secondary has more warm bodies to step in, they all seem to be injured. Brandon Flowers remains on the mend while Kendrick Lewis is out for the Falcons game. And though Eric Berry looked just as phenomenal as I remembered during the preseason, ACLs don’t come back stronger after tearing. Should any problems arise here Bryant McFadden is another two-time Super Bowl champion worth taking a look at (both with Pittsburgh), although at age 30 he’s already seeing his production decline and was never much of a ball hawk with just nine career interceptions. At 31, safety Oshiomogho Atogwe brings 25 career interceptions along with 5.5 sacks, 19 forced fumbles and over 500 tackles. The former track star could offer depth as a poor man’s Eric Berry for a secondary I worry poses as a weak link if it can’t stay healthy.
The final position worthy of attention is along the defensive line, although it may be an extreme situation to justify another big body here. Considering the release of Amon Gordon and condition of Anthony Toribio’s bum ankle, the Chiefs are starting a nose tackle they don’t believe is ready (Dontari Poe) and backing him up with a man unable to maintains his assignments (Jerrell Powe). Shaun Smith, who played in Kansas City in 2010, conducted a workout for the team but remains unsigned (it should be noted that Paddy has a particular rooting interest in picking up “The Perv,” principally to write that nickname over and over again). He is pictured above playing clean football.
I’d love to be able to simply pick up several of these players for insurance, but for every player picked up another player must be released. That’s another player who spent the offseason practicing with the Chiefs, learning the playbook and building team rapport. Additionally, youth and potential would be traded for age and experience in almost every instance – not a recipe for long-term success. Having one spare guard and tackle should be sufficient, particularly with David Mims still on the practice squad, and hopefully Toribio is healthy before long. However, I don’t think Kansas City can justify nine combined tight ends and tailbacks, and I want to see another DB because Neiko Thorpe on the practice doesn’t cut it. The problem is where to make room. Look out Stanzi, you better start impressing…
So what do you think Addicts – any available veterans out there you think should be brought in for a boost of depth? Anyone you’d be willing to cut to make room? Or is the youth movement worth more than bringing in a former starter at this point in the season?