So far in training camp the Chiefs defense has outperformed the offense. As Adam Teicher reports, a big reason for that is the play of safeties Bernard Pollard and Jarrad Page, two players Kansas City is counting on in 2009.
The Chiefs drafted both players in 2006, Pollard in the second round and Page in the seventh, and in doing so envisioned a day when they would be pillars of a defense that was competitive or better. They are hopeful this is the year. Page is already there, having given the Chiefs many such plays in his two seasons as a starter. The wait for Pollard has been longer and at times painful but could be over if his training-camp play is any indication.
The Chiefs signed veteran safety Mike Brown shortly before camp to challenge Pollard for his starting spot. The competition hasn’t materialized and may in fact be finished, according to Brown.
“I’m definitely out here competing but I realize my role. Those are their spots. I’m just here in case something happens to them. I’ll be able to come in and play a high level. I’m here to provide some depth. If there’s any insight I can give, I’m willing to do that. They’re two young, extremely good safeties and I enjoy watching them play. They both bring a little something different to the table. Bernard is extremely physical and has great power. Page is the great free safety with range and incredible hands and incredible athletic ability.”
The switch to the 3-4 system and coordinator Clancy Pendergast’s system could benefit Pollard.
“I really love it because it kind of gets me (closer) to the line of scrimmage. I won’t have to line up and play cover 2 every snap or stay back. I’m able to come up and get closer and make plays. That’s what I did in college. That’s more my game. I’m happy with where I am and I’m happy with the changes and the new scheme and the new system. I’m ready to play some ball.”
I’m ready for Pollard to play some ball too. Over the past couple of seasons he has earned his “Bonecrusher” nickname, but as Teicher noted he has struggled in coverage and that has to improve, no matter where he lines up. It has to be encouraging that all of the talk during camp has surrounded the defensive line and linebackers. Sure it would be nice to have praise lavished over the DBs every day, but it also means they aren’t getting destroyed either. There is enough talent there to get the job done and that’s something we can’t yet say about the rest of the defense.
When the Kansas City Chiefs relocate their training camp to St. Joseph, Missouri next season there will be a new radio station covering the team.
Last year, local sports fans couldn’t even listen to the University of Missouri football games on the radio. This year, they’re going to get a wealth of local sports on the radio, thanks to a decision by Eagle Communications, which plans to merge ESPN and St. Joseph sports.
The broadcasting company is shifting the format of KSFT 1550 AM from 1960s and 70s “gold” music to all-sports. The change is planned for Aug. 25.
Daytime hours will include ESPN’s popular lineup, such as “Mike & Mike in the Morning,” “The Herd with Colin Cowherd” and “The Scott Van Pelt Show.”
But plans also are to amplify local content significantly. The station expects to broadcast a high school “game of the week,” focusing on the five St. Joseph high schools and a Saturday morning coaches’ show as well as an hour-long weekday call-in program featuring local high schools, colleges and Big 12 teams.
The other significant factor, GM Gary Exline said, is the Kansas City Chiefs’ decision to move their summer training camp to Missouri Western. The Chiefs will spend about three weeks in August next year practicing on the Western campus.
“The camp next summer drove part of this decision. We felt we needed to have a station devoted day-to-day at that camp.”
I’m a radio geek — that’s my world — so I hope the station follows through with the local programming because there is nothing worse than a sports station that simply flips on national shows and walks away. In order to be worth listening to, you have to deliver local stories and commentary. Camp next year should be much busier than River Falls, since it’s not a big deal for any TV or radio station in Kansas City to camp out with the Chiefs.
The Chiefs first preseason game at Arrowhead Stadium should allow us to get a good look at the team’s first round draft pick, Tyson Jackson. But don’t expect to see the Texans top pick.
Houston Texans linebacker Brian Cushing won’t play in Saturday’s preseason opener against the Chiefs because of a sprained left knee. Cushing did not practice Wednesday and instead watched both workouts with a brace on his knee.
Cushing, the 15th overall pick in the draft, is expected to start at outside linebacker. The four-year starter as Southern California led the nation’s second ranked defense with 10.5 tackles for losses last year.
I’m bummed. There’s been so much hype around all of the USC defensive players, I was curious to see how Cushing was coming along at this level. I’m hoping to see a lot of Connor Barwin Saturday, a guy that I was very high on coming out of Cincinnati.
Most years there isn’t much worth watching during the first and last preseason game, but the Chiefs are a wild card this season with a whole new staff and scheme. So far Todd Haley has been very vague about how much his players will be on the field, but here’s to hoping we get a good look at all of the rookies at the very least.