For the first time since they traded Jared Allen in 2008, someone other than Tamba Hali led the Chiefs in sacks last season. Justin Houston edged him out with 10 sacks, one more than Hali. Hali isn’t ready to concede his team title permanently, but didn’t sound confident he would get it back this year, either. “I love getting sacks and we’re going to compete on that note,” Hali said. “As an athlete, I can’t compete with the kid. He’s that much better.” The Chiefs are planning to have many more sacks to go around this year. They had just 27 last year, fewer than all teams except Oakland, Jacksonville and Tampa Bay. The result of their inability to get consistent pressure on the quarterback was that the Chiefs were last in forcing turnovers with a feeble 13. The idea behind the defensive system of new coordinator Bob Sutton is to get after the quarterback and force the opponent to cough up the ball more frequently. “I don’t want to put numbers on it but, yeah,” Hali said when asked if the Chiefs would put the opposing quarterback under more pressure than they did last season. “With the type of thing coach Sutton is doing with our entire defense, yeah. From cornerbacks to safeties to linebackers, we’re coming. We can get a lot of sacks. They don’t have to be (generated) by Justin and I and some inside guys. Everybody’s got to contribute to putting pressure on the quarterback.
“Not knowing much about Dexter McCluster … he was the running back/receiver, and seeing how fluid he is, going in and out of those roles has been impressive for me to watch,” Smith said after Wednesday’s practice. “It’s easy to talk about in the meeting room to say let’s put (a) receiver in and have him run routes and be natural at it and then put him back in the backfield to do a multitude of things … “It’s another thing to see it live. He’s a special guy, and he’s really taken it on.” Smith said the players have responded to the wrinkles the coaches keep adding to the offense in preparation for the season opener at Jacksonville. “I like the volume; I like how much they’re throwing at us for an offseason,” he said. “I like how much the coaches are demanding of us, continuing to push us, expecting a lot out of us. I think it’s going to make a difference in the fall. “We need a lot practices to get ready for Jacksonville. We’ve got to play a lot of catch-up. We don’t have the luxury of having been together for four or five years and been the same system. We’ve got to make up ground. This is what this time is for: finding out what our strengths are, trying to work on our weaknesses. “
It’s been nearly two months since the Kansas City Chiefs signed free agent LB Chad Kilgore to join the team’s LB corps, coached by Gary Gibbs. Since arriving and putting on the Chiefs helmet, one thing has immediately stood out. “I don’t know what it was like here, last year, but it just feels like a competitive environment,” Kilgore said. “They definitely have a lot of competitiveness in the linebacker corps; a lot of guys in there that are competing for jobs, seems like everybody is focused on one goal, working hard. This is what I expect an NFL experience to be like.”