OTAs kick off for the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday and it will serve as the official start of the evaluation process, one that will go right up through the end of training camp. Josh Looney over at KCChiefs.com has ten things he will be watching, including the makeup of the linebacking corps.
Run and Hit – Todd Haley likes guys who can run and hit. Essentially, that’s what helped secure roster spots for rookie free agent linebackers Jovan Belcher and Pierre Walters a year ago. Throw Andy Studebaker, who made the transition from defensive end to outside linebacker, in that group as well. Will these guys take the next step in 2010?
For Walters, the next step could be as simple as finding his way into defensive sub-packages as well as on each of the coverage units, while Belcher and Studebaker would love to push for more extensive roles after their 2009 performances as reserve players. The next step for each of these players begins on Monday.
Most of the focus on defense will likely be on Eric Berry and the secondary, but the linebackers are incredibly intriguing. Belcher and Studebaker were great stories last year that turned into regular rotation players. Walters on the other hand has a chance to be a wild card during his second season in the league.
Last year it was a surprise anytime Walters hit the field during the regular season, but don’t lose sight of the fact that he was on the 53-man roster from start to finish. He was (is?) a developmental project, but one that Todd Haley and Scott Pioli clearly believed in enough that they didn’t want to risk losing him to another team by trying to squeeze him through waivers and onto the practice squad.
With the only addition to the position being fifth round pick Cameron Sheffield and UDFA Justin Cole, there is every opportunity for the Chiefs young linebackers to establish themselves in 2010.