It wasn’t long ago that LaDainian Tomlinson and Larry Johnson were two of the best running backs in the league. This season they have only scored one touchdown between them. Johnson said yesterday that he expects LT to get going soon.
“He always started slow sometimes. The next thing you know he’s down for five touchdowns, six touchdowns. It all comes in due time. He’s a good enough back to know it’s going to happen. He’s just got to keep staying with it and not get frustrated.
“Watching him on Monday night, he was really frustrated. There were some plays where they took him out of scoring touchdowns and doing what he does best. That can get him a little frustrated, which is understandable. The same happens with me.”
Maybe LJ figures if it’s just a slow start for Tomlinson then he can explain away his own troubles. But the truth is Johnson wasn’t a slow starter his first two years as a feature back. The last three years he has started slow but those were all after his 416 carry season that clearly took a huge toll on his body.
Both are no more than just role players at this point in their career.
Between sacks and knockdowns, Matt Cassel has hit the ground 58 times in only six games. If Cassel plans on playing the whole season he needs to lower that number and Bob Gretz says there is plenty the Chiefs quarterback can do to help his own cause.
He must simply in the terms of self-preservation, start getting rid of the football faster.
“In terms of self-preservation, you just go out there and play the game, you don’t really think about it while it’s happening,” said Cassel. “You just go and try to play and if you get hit, it’s part of it.”
Nice, John Wayne-type quarterback-talk from Cassel; it’s what any coach, teammate or fan would want to hear from the man who pulls the trigger on the offense. But Cassel has to wise-up or he won’t be able to play. His decision making must be faster. He has to be willing to throw away more passes.
It’s time for Cassel to help himself and understand that as Len Dawson says, most plays do not work. Sometimes a play dies and sometimes it needs to be killed.
“It’s probably one of his greatest attributes and it also haunts him a little because he wants to make a play every play,” said Haley. “I think that comes through quarterback play and the more he plays. That’s the toughest thing a quarterback has to do: decide when to pack it in when there’s no play to be had and get rid of the ball and save a sack or a hit.”
Cassel has pulled himself off the ground and walked back to the huddle limping at least once during every game. Obviously he’s still dealing with the knee injury he suffered in the preseason, but the Chiefs really need to do something about keeping their quarterback upright.
Yes, it starts with Cassel getting rid of the ball but Haley has to start moving him around more until the offensive line has some sort of consistency (and talent).
When the San Diego Chargers visit Arrowhead on Sunday, their secondary will have a different look.
Cornerback Antonio Cromartie left practice yesterday after tweaking his knee and had an MRI last night, sources said. The MRI confirmed there were no tears but that Cromartie has a slight bruise under his kneecap.
A serious injury to Cromartie, coming off one of the best games of his career, would have played havoc with a secondary in flux. It is still possible Cromartie could be limited Sunday in Kansas City, which would have a bearing on the move made in the secondary this week.
Coordinator Ron Rivera on Wednesday made a switch he had clearly been contemplating for weeks.
Steve Gregory, who has been practicing at the nickel spot since the bye week, will be there Sunday against the Chiefs in place of Antoine Cason. Rivera said it was more that he thinks Gregory is better suited to play there than that Cason had done things grossly wrong.
However, numerous sources said the Chargers had been trying to get Cason to improve and that it was the coaches’ judgment that he had not. Cason leads the team with two interceptions, but he also made a couple crucial mistakes against Denver, which may have prompted the move.
The nickel spot is, in essence, a de facto starting role, since the Chargers are in their nickel defense so often.
The Chargers last week released strong safety Clinton Hart and elevated Kevin Ellison to the starting spot.
Should Cromartie not be able to play fully in Kansas City, Cason would be his replacement.
It will be huge for the Chiefs if Cromartie is limited in any way on Sunday. If the players behind him were playing well it wouldn’t be as big of a deal, but with Rivera still searching for consistency from the rest of his cornerbacks it opens up the passing game any time Cromartie is on the sidelines.
With Dwayne Bowe coming off a solid game against the Redskins, he is primed for a huge game against San Diego’s shuffled secondary.