Players To Watch: Kansas City Chiefs vs. San Diego Chargers

The Kansas City Chiefs look to pick up their first back-to-back wins since October 2007 when the San Diego Chargers visit Arrowhead Stadium.

Here are three players (Offense, Defense and Special Teams) from each team to keep your eyes on.

Chiefs

Offense: Larry Johnson

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He isn’t listed here every week, but he might as well be.  Like most teams in the NFL it all starts with the running game and Johnson has taken his time getting going this season.  I keep waiting to see the LJ of old and it hasn’t happened yet.  He did, however, show a glimpse of his top shelf power last week against the Redskins and could be primed to break out against a Chargers team that is giving up nearly 150 yards per game on the ground.

There is plenty of talk about how many hits Matt Cassel is taking, but wouldn’t it nice to see how he performed if he had a true running game to rely on?

Defense: Ron Edwards

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There won’t be a busier man on the Chiefs defense against the Chargers.  With the trade of his only backup, Tank Tyler, to the Panthers that means Edwards will only get true relief on the field during obvious passing downs.  He had already claimed the starting spot and majority of snaps, but with the only other defensive tackle on the roster being journeyman Kenny Smith that leaves Edwards to set the tone up front for the Kansas City defense.  If he can become more consistent — and he’ll continue to get plenty of chances — that will help Glenn Dorsey and Tamba Hali continue to get pressure in the backfield.

Special Teams: Jamaal Charles

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The San Diego Chargers special teams units gave up two returns for touchdowns last week to the Denver Broncos, meaning Charles should be put in a perfect position to finally take his first return to the house.  He has only carried the ball 9 times over the past three weeks, so he will have to continue to try and make his mark in the return game.  With Kolby Smith on his way back to the field, it could push Charles back to the inactive list if he doesn’t prove his value on special teams.

Chargers

Offense: LaDainian Tomlinson

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At one time, LT was the best running back in the league.  Then last week Norv Turner left him on the sideline on a 3rd and goal against the Broncos.  Tomlinson was visibly upset by the snub and wouldn’t even look his coach in the eyes when they spoke later.  For a player that had struggled in the only two games he played over the first four weeks, Tomlinson seemed to be back on track against the Broncos.  Will his issues carry over to his play against the Chiefs?

Keep an eye on LT early, as he not only tries to shake off his situation with Turner, but also the flu bug that bit him in the middle of this week

Defense: Larry English

LarryEnglish

Most of the talk surrounding the San Diego defense has been about Shawne Merriman and his struggles.  But what people seem to be missing is English stepping up his game as he gets more snaps under his belt.  After adjusting to the speed of the game early, he has registered a sack in two straight games and recorded four tackles  against the Broncos.  Not too shabby for a guy that was supposed to be Merriman’s understudy all season.

Look for the rookie to make his presence known early and often against the Chiefs going up against Wade Smith and Matt Cassel’s blindside.

Special Teams: Darren Sproles

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While the Chargers were busy giving up two returns for touchdowns, Sproles had his own 77 yard return for a score.  Just like Charles, he will make his impact on this game on special teams.  With Tomlinson healthy the past two games, Sproles has only carried the ball once.

It should be a hell of a chess match between Dustin Colquitt and Sproles as we get to see two of the best at what they do go at each other.  If Colquitt is smart, he’ll get very friendly with the sideline or the fair catch.  Unfortunately for the Chiefs they will have a much harder time keeping the ball away from Sproles on kickoffs.  Short of Ryan Succop all of a sudden kicking balls out of the end zone, the Chiefs kick off unit will have to bring their “A” game if they plan on keeping the former Wildcat in check.

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