Around The Web: Wade In The Mix, Third Down Defense, Heyward-Bey “Pretty Good”

New Chiefs wide receiver Bobby Wade may have just signed his contract two days ago, but he has every intention of making an impact sooner rather than later.

“I’ll put in as much time as possible to try to learn and get on the field as early as possible.  Other than that, it’s just about making plays once I get out there.  I’m just going to continue to work, and we’ll see where it falls on Sunday.”

Having Wade against the Raiders is also a priority for the Chiefs and coach Todd Haley.  Haley would like Wade to be available, if nothing else, as a punt returner, where the Chiefs have sorted through several candidates and found them all lacking.

But Haley may give a game-day roster spot to Wade only if he can do more than return punts, so the ability to master at least a portion of the offensive playbook is important.

“We’ve got to get him quickly into the mix,” Haley said.  “He’s got some punt-return ability.  He’s done it at a high level at times.  If we are going to use him as a punt returner, he needs to be able to play some other plays.  Five or six (punt returns) at the end of the day isn’t enough.  We’ve just got to get him up to speed fast.”

Wade has returned punts at times during his seven-year NFL career with Chicago, Tennessee and Minnesota.  He was one of the best in the league for the Bears in 2005.

“I’m looking for the opportunity,” Wade said.  “It’s something I kind of got away from last year.  I did it the year prior and all the other years before that.  The coach talked to me about it.  If that’s what they want me to do, I’m definitely ready.”

Backup quarterback Tyler Thigpen was a teammate of Wade’s in Minnesota’s training camp in 2007.

“He’s a great player,” Thigpen said. “ He understands the game real well.  We’re glad to have him here because he’ll give us another playmaker on offense.  He was kind of a slot guy.  Sometimes he played outside receiver.  He’s a guy that’s not afraid to go across the middle and make plays.”

It’ll be good to have a heady receiver out on the field.  Hopefully he can teach Mark Bradley how to pick up first downs when he’s near the sticks.

I know he’s a year removed from returning kicks, but he can’t do any worse than Maruice Leggett did last week against Baltimore.

If Kansas City plans on winning their first game of the season Sunday against Oakland, Bob Gretz has zeroed in on one area they must improve.

Third-down defense hurt the Chiefs in Baltimore, and not just on the TD pass from Flacco to Clayton that provided the winning points.  That was just one of 10 conversions in 17 attempts for the Ravens, or a 59 percent success rate.

All three of Flacco’s TD passes came on third down and two were on 3rd-and-8 plays.  In fact, the Chiefs defense forced Baltimore into 10 plays on third down that needed eight yards or more to move the sticks.  The Ravens converted six times; that’s a significantly high number for one of the toughest downs in football.

“We’ve got to get off the field on third down,” said Vrabel.  “You can give up eight or nine yards on the first two plays, and come back and make it up on third down.  We did the opposite, we did a good job on first and second down and gave it back on third down.  Third-down conversion rate can make up for a lot of mistakes you make.”

They also must be better against the run, first, second or third down.  In that winning touchdown drive, Baltimore got 24 yards on five carries.  Nothing outrageous there in those numbers, but they were just enough drips to help fuel a tsunami.

All of these factors are very important against the Raiders this Sunday.  Oakland hit 50 percent of its third down against San Diego on Monday night.  They can keep drives alive with the running game, as their trio of backs – Darren McFadden, Michael Bush and Justin Fargas – can all run inside and outside. Chiefs fans know this, as the Raiders ran for 300 yards last year.

The Chiefs want to get past what happened in the opener.  But they can’t forget the lessons of that game, and what they must do better if they hope to reverse the fortunes of this defense and the team.

I just want to see the defense pressure JaMarcus Russell.  The third down stats were ugly, but if they can push the Oakland offensive line around, the results will start to show across all downs.  Last week Joe Flacco had all day to throw and when there was pressure he easily side stepped the rush until he found a receiver.  Improve the overall pass rush and everything else will take care of itself.

Can you do your job as an NFL wide receiver if you don’t catch a single pass and actually drop the first two balls thrown your way?  Raiders first round pick Darrius Heyward-Bey seems to think so.

As far as Heyward-Bey is concerned, he wasn’t nervous one bit, and he didn’t play half bad.

“Did some good things, did some bad things.  Pretty good grade but could be better.  For the first game, it was solid.”

How so?  He’s glad you asked.

Heyward-Bey is the “X” receiver, so he’s got the “backside of things.”  His elite speed is supposed to pull a safety over in double coverage to make the field easier to see for quarterback JaMarcus Russell.

Just by being out there, Heyward-Bey said, it makes a difference for others.  That’s what he said people outside the building aren’t seeing.

“I’m just sitting back doing my job.  That’s my job in this offense.  That’s what I do.”

Perhaps, but that doesn’t keep Raiders coach Tom Cable from wanting even more out of the No. 7 overall draft pick.  After all, teams don’t pay $23.5 million in guaranteed money for a decoy.

The Raiders need him to be a scoring threat who runs precise routes and catches every ball within reach.  In short, do what fourth-round rookie Louis Murphy did in his first NFL start.

I hate to give the Raiders credit, but Murphy was a steal in the fourth-round.  If you saw him play at Florida, it was evident when he got his chances that he could be a big time player.  Unfortunately for him he was overshadowed on that offense by Percy Harvin and Tim Tebow.  To be fair though, I’m sure Oakland only drafted him because of his 4.32 40 time.

Heyward-Bey, on the other hand, could take a few notes from Dwayne Bowe when it comes to getting out of your head coach’s dog house.  Listen, keep your head down and work until you do it the way it’s expected to be done.

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