This is PART II of It’s “Next Man Up” For The Chiefs
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Players We’re Not Going To Talk About
Bill Parcells, among others, have frequently said, “I’m not going to talk about injured players” and while that may be wise, it’s hard not to hope that 2013 draft picks Sanders Commings and Travis Kelce come through in a big way in 2014.
So, I call this my “Don’t Stop Believin’” next-man-up list.
I can’t stomach the idea that the Chiefs would bring back S Kendrick Lewis. Honestly, if that happens… I will have to re-think everything I think I know about Andy Reid and especially John Dorsey. Having said that, I can also reveal that there is probably not a bigger wish that I have for the roster in 2014 than for Sanders Commings to step in, step up big, and become “The Man” who pairs with Pro Bowler Eric Berry to shut down the middle of the field to teams who want to throw there.
Sanders Commings 4.34 speed, ability to cover and hit could be the edge the Chiefs defense has needed to win some big games. But… it’s back to the reason Parcells gives for not having the conversation… it’s all a big if. So, bring back Husain Abdullah and bring Commings along slowly. Let’s not forget that Commings had 154 tackles and 8 INTs at Georgia while splitting time between CB and Safety and was recognized as one of their hardest hitters.
In his piece called, “Sanders Commings Could Be The Answer At Free Safety” Terez Paylor quotes Commings’ college coach,
“Georgia coach Mark Richt, who coached Commings for five years, is confident he can be a single-high safety — playing deep to prevent long passes — even though he spent most of his career at cornerback. Richt cited Commings’ baseball background at Georgia as proof. “Anybody who plays baseball understands how to play the ball,” Richt said. “He’s used those skills to help him as a football player as well. He has great hands and has great vision to chase down a ball in flight, just like a center fielder would.”
In any event, Commings should be the target for next man up at Free Safety.
I’m also hoping the same for Travis Kelce. Andy Reid’s west coast version requires TEs to show up and offer a big target over the middle also forcing safeties to collapse in order to set up the outside passing and running lanes. Arrowhead Pride once said Kelce compared favorably to Rob Gronkowski, Jeremy Shockey and Jason Witten.
If… Kelce comes through as planned and expected to, then Fasano becomes the next man sitting down. However, there’s good news along the Fasano front, the number of games he normally is a part of each season during his career totals 16. Here’s his games played in every year since 2006: 16,16,16, 14,15,15, 16, 9. Unfortunately the 9 was with the Chiefs. Both Kelce and Fasano have to be considered “ifs’ at this point… but a guy can hope.
There appears to be a fairly good probability that the Chiefs could go with a TE in the 1st or 3rd rounds of this draft. When you look at the number of TEs the Chiefs have had in the past five seasons and the number of injuries that have kept those TE’s M.I.A. (missing in action) then it makes sense for the Chiefs to make sure they have more than one dynamic player at the TE position next season. And it’s not just the Chiefs who have had their tight ends “kicked in the butt” by the injury plague. Injuries to tight ends Rob Gronkowski, Jermichael Finley, Dennis Pitta, Antonio Gates, Kyle Rudolph, Tom Crabtree, Vernon Davis and others make the value of good TE’s even more accentuated across the league.
The Chiefs “possibly” taking a TE high in the draft this season should be all the competition Travis Kelce needs to “win” during an offseason of rehab following micro-fracture surgery to his knee on October 12, 2013. That kind of surgery is serious but Kelce has skill to line up outside like a WR and get downfield so… hopes are high for his return.
If the Chiefs do take a TE in the draft, it may be a sign they are not satisfied with Travis Kelce’s healing process.
It’s quite evident that John Dorsey is willing to look high and low for a TE who can step up as the Chiefs re-signed three year pro tight end Richard Gordon on Friday. Gordon has also spent time with Pittsburgh and Oakland and just yesterday new AA editor Ben Nielsen pointed out that the Gordon signing could simply be a security blanket,
“Getting healthy will naturally help the tight end position, and having McGrath as the third-string tight end seems more workable after watching him play. Gordon seems to be an insurance policy until the Chiefs no longer need him.”
The Chiefs cap will be tight enough that they may have to choose between two Guards: Jon Asamoah and Geoff Schwartz. Schwartz has made it clear this week that he’s not going to sign to provide “versatility” but only to be a “starter.” Most have interpreted Schwartz’ statement to refer to his possibly returning to the Chiefs. However, by the looks of this t-shirt (pictured to the right), posted the same day as his “starter” comment, one can only hope it doesn’t refer to signing with the Cleveland Browns and playing next to his brother Mitchell, who has been a stand out starter there for three years at RT.
Both Geoff Schwartz and Jon Asamoah should be offered contracts by the Chiefs… if the Chiefs can get some contracts with other players, that are out of whack, favorably restructured. Schwartz appears more likely to return as there’s a chance some team will offer Asamoah more than they should, simply because he’s a very good starting Guard with several years of experience on an up and coming team. If Asamoah doesn’t return and Schwartz does, that makes Schwartz the next man up a lock. If that happens I wouldn’t be too upset. There’s only one time this season when I saw Schwartz get beat badly and he usually grades out well by ProFootballFocus.com. In November PFF said,
“The right tackle spot has been problematic and it remains something of a mystery just why Geoff Schwartz can’t crack the lineup (we’d take him at left guard over the disappointing Jeff Allen).”
Talking about Jeff Allen. Although he’s not a free agent, I’m hoping that during their offseason evaluations Reid and Dorsey come to the conclusion that giving a different player a shot is in order. Then find a way to re-sign Asamoah and the center of the Chiefs offensive line will be set for 2014.
Long Shots for the Next Man Up
OG Rishaw Johnson
Chiefs Guard Rishaw Johnson who will be 25 before next season begins, has been sitting on the bench most of this past season, and was moved from the practice squad to the 53 man roster on September 24th. He was an undrafted free agent by the Seahawks and was signed to the Chiefs practice squad on September 3rd, 2013 just two days after Seattle waived him. Rishaw Johnson goes 6-3 and 313 and ran a 5.06 40 at the combine. In January of 2012, during the East-West Shrine game week, Dane Bruglar of CBS Sports said of Rishaw Johnson,
“Offensive guard Rishaw Johnson (California, Pa.) has shown why some feel he could be a top-120 pick. He has good thickness throughout his body and moves very well for his 309-pound frame with large, 11-inch mitts. Johnson, who has been practicing at right guard, spent a little too much time on the ground and is a bit of a bull in a china shop, but he stays balanced off the snap and looks to finish. He has some off-field questions, but showcased the raw skills in practice to develop into a pro backup, at worst.”
Apparently Rishaw Johnson was dismissed from Mississippi for a third violation of team rules. However, the Oxford Eagle indicates that,
“After playing in the team’s first five games last season, the 6-foot-4, 305-pound junior was suspended for the remainder of the season and did not participate in the team’s Cotton Bowl workouts…. Since then, Johnson, a Hammond, La., native, had worked his way back into the coaching staff’s good graces and was a starter against Jacksonville State (the) last weekend.”
Obviously, Seattle saw something in him and so has John Dorsey, enough to promote him up the roster essentially protecting him from being picked off of the Chiefs practice squad roster. College immaturity doesn’t always translate to the pros and it looks like Rishaw has kept his nose clean since then. Enough to be a next man up? As far as I’m concerned, enough to deserve a shot. Especially when you consider the continued lack of progress of OG Jeff Allen. Reid promoted Rishaw to the 53 man roster after only 21 days on the practice squad. Was that because of a great lack along the OL or was there a specific reason?
Since Reid was bold enough to give waiver claimed players like CB Cooper, ST Parker and TE Sean McGrath some big time minutes, Rishaw Johnson’s opportunity may be just around the corner. I’m in favor of it.
TE Demetrius Harris
Another long shot is 6-7 Demetrius Harris. He could be a regular at some point this year but as I understand it, he still has quite a ways to go so it will be awhile before he’s given a permanent roster spot.
Every fan I talk to about Harris is dying to know what he’s got. When seen in the preseason, Harris sparkled at times. A few too many missteps, running bad routes, or an inability to grasp enough of the playbook… or all of the above… contribute to the Chiefs decision to leave Harris dangling on the practice squad roster. However, I’d be pretty upset if this huge and agile ex-basketball player ended up being snatched up by another team and then succeeded elsewhere.
TonyG set a standard for TEs in this league many years ago. Then along came Antonio Gates of the Chargers. Ever since Tony left, I’ve wondered why the Chiefs can’t go out and find an ex-basketballer, even if he’s raw. We’ll that exactly describes Demetrius Harris and I say it’s time to give him his shot
If the Chiefs are thinking about going out and spending a draft choice on yet another TE in this coming draft… how about if they just “draft” their own practice squad guy instead.
What do you think Addict fans? Will the Chiefs replace more starters through “the next man up” or via free agency and the draft?