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FloridaChief
10-30-2004, 02:12 AM
Chiefs turn to corners

Improving pass defense seeks to rein in Colts

By IVAN CARTER The Kansas City Star

It hasn't been a glorious season for NFL cornerbacks, who have been forced to battle everything from ticky-tack rule changes to freaky athletic wide receivers.

On Monday night, Denver's alleged “shutdown” corner, Champ Bailey, was torched repeatedly by Cincinnati's Chad Johnson.

Mike McKenzie was traded from Green Bay to New Orleans amid much fanfare and promptly got burned by Minnesota's Randy Moss on national television two weeks ago.

In Dallas, former Kansas State star Terence Newman, who was taken with the fifth overall pick in the 2003 draft, is being blamed for everything from the Cowboys' poor start to Jerry Jones' bad hair — all because he's having a hard time stopping anyone in one-on-one situations.

So if you're wondering why Chiefs' team president/general manager Carl Peterson has been so patient, and generous, when it comes to the development of cornerbacks Eric Warfield and William Bartee, just look around the NFL.

“(Cornerback) is one of those positions where the grass is always greener so to speak,” Peterson said. “People expect instant success and instant results, but that's not always guaranteed, and corners end up getting as much blame or more blame than a quarterback. It's a tough position, but we made the decision to be patient and let some of our guys fight through the growing pains. It takes time.”

That patience is starting to pay off.

Warfield, now in his seventh season out of Nebraska, is justifying the $5 million signing bonus Peterson handed him before the 2002 season and could be headed to his first Pro Bowl. Warfield is tied with Seattle's Ken Lucas and Cincinnati's Tory James for the league lead in interceptions with four and is flourishing as both a cover man and a run stopper in Gunther Cunningham's aggressive, man-to-man schemes.

Bartee, now in his fifth season out of Oklahoma, re-signed with the Chiefs during the off-season because he wanted to play for Cunningham again. After a neck injury suffered in the season opener sidelined him for two games, Bartee bounced back and played well in his first start against Atlanta last week.

Playing both on the outside and in the slot, Bartee posted a team-high six tackles, sacked the elusive Michael Vick once on a cornerback blitz and was credited with two passes defensed.

Two plays illustrated the progress Bartee has made. The first came on a first-quarter deep slant from Vick to Peerless Price. Bartee broke on the ball, kept his hands off Price's back to avoid an illegal-contact penalty and nearly came up with his first career interception. The ball deflected into the hands of safety Greg Wesley who made the diving interception.

In the third quarter, Vick went after Bartee with a deep bomb into the end zone to Dez White, who scored on just such a play the previous week against San Diego. Bartee stayed with the speedy White, turned his head just as the ball arrived and swatted it away.

In the past, Bartee's athletic skills put him in position to make those kinds of plays, but he often failed to do so. That in turn, hurt Bartee's confidence and appeared to carry over to the next play and game.

Those days are over, Wesley said.

“William is so much more confident now,” Wesley said. “He knows that he can make those kinds of plays. I think he's to the point where he wants the QB to take a shot at him because he knows he can make the play.”

Not that Wesley is apologizing for coming away with what would have been the first interception of Bartee's career.

“No,” Wesley said with a smile. “He's going to have to get those on his own, or I'm going to be right there to get them. He will though. It's just a matter of time.”

Sunday's game against Peyton Manning and the Colts would be a perfect time for Bartee to come up big. Manning is the AFC's highest rated passer, and he has three nasty receiving threats in Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne and Brandon Stokley.

Manning has completed 67 percent of his passes, owns a 17-to-three touchdown-to-interception ratio and has a quarterback rating of 116.2. And if covering the Colt wide receivers and defending Manning's crisp passes don't put enough pressure on a secondary, the Indianapolis offensive line and backs have made matters more difficult by allowing Manning to be sacked only four times this season.

Excellent protection plus Manning's accurate arm plus excellent route running by the Colt receivers often adds up to a long day for opposing cornerbacks. Along with Warfield and Bartee, the other Chiefs to watch Sunday are young corners Julian Battle and Benny Sapp. Because veteran Dexter McCleon is expected to be sidelined by a hamstring injury, either Battle or Sapp will be on the field when the Colts go into their three-receiver set.

Battle, the team's third-round pick in the 2003 draft, is built exactly like Warfield and Bartee and possesses incredible athletic ability, but he has experienced his share of growing pains while adjusting to the NFL. Sapp, an undrafted rookie free agent out of Northern Iowa, is built more like McCleon but is a fierce tackler and doesn't appear to be afraid of anyone or anything.

“Benny Sapp has stepped up and played well,” coach Dick Vermeil said. “Now it's Julian Battle's turn to step up and play well. We think he has the ability to do it; we just haven't had the need or he hasn't had the opportunity. Now we have both.”

Only time will tell whether developing players like Bartee, Battle and Sapp will live up to the legacy of greatness established by past Chiefs corners such as Emmitt Thomas, Gary Green, Albert Lewis, Kevin Ross, Dale Carter and James Hasty, but according to Indianapolis head coach Tony Dungy, it might be worth the wait.

“Very few guys are going to come into the league and dominate at the corner position because there is a lot to learn,” said Dungy, who played corner for the Steelers and 49ers during a three-season NFL career. “You have to learn how to play in the NFL, have to learn receivers, learn what you can and can't do. I don't know that there is anybody good enough — even Deion Sanders and Rod Woodson when they came in — who can walk in and play right away. You do have to be patient, and usually it's the second or third year when you see a guy start to blossom if they have that ability.”

FloridaChief
10-30-2004, 02:14 AM
CHIEFS NOTES

BATTLE IN PICTURE

Julian Battle will replace the injured Dexter McCleon as the Chiefs third cornerback for Sunday's game against Indianapolis.

The Chiefs used William Bartee as their slot cornerback in their nickel defense in Friday's practice.

The Chiefs hoped Battle would push for a starting spot back in training camp, but Battle had a disappointing preseason and didn't even suit up as the fourth cornerback in the last two games.

“Just pure coverage skills, we don't have anybody like him,'' coach Dick Vermeil said. “I'll be surprised if he doesn't play very well.''

TICKETS AVAILABLE

The Colts returned a portion of their ticket allotment for Sunday's game. Tickets can be purchased through Ticketmaster at any of its outlets, by telephone at (816) 931-3330 or on the Internet at www.ticketmaster.com.

INJURY UPDATE

Vermeil said that none of the five players who were held out of practice Friday — McCleon, Monty Beisel, Omar Easy, Junior Siavii and Kris Wilson — would play against the Colts.

Indianapolis downgraded cornerback Joseph Jefferson. If he can't play, the Colts will be precariously thin at the position for Sunday's game.

INJURY REPORT

P Chiefs Injury St.
TE Kris Wilson Leg O
LB Monty Beisel Calf D
FB Omar Easy hamstring Q
CB Dexter McCleon hamstring Q
DT Junior Siavii ankle Q
DT John Browning knee P
TE Jason Dunn knee P
LB Scott Fujita ankle P
RB Priest Holmes ankle P
LB Kawika Mitchell hamstring P
OT Willie Roaf shoulder P
OG Will Shields hip flexor P
DT Ryan Sims hamstring P
OT John Welbourn knee P

P Colts Injury St.
WR Troy Walters upper arm O
DB Cory Bird calf/knee Q
CB Nick Harper shoulder Q
CB Joseph Jefferson knee Q
G Tupe Peko lower back Q
WR Brad Pyatt ankle Q
OG Rick DeMulling ankle P
WR Marvin Harrison shoulder P
DE Robert Mathis thigh P
WR Brandon Stokley thigh/shoulder P

Status: O-out, D-doubtful, Q-questionable, P-probable

— Adam Teicher/The Star

Miles
10-30-2004, 02:16 AM
Even with an improving secondary I still dont know how we are goint to contain Stokley. He creates some bad matchup problems.

cheeeefs
10-30-2004, 02:19 AM
I have faith. We have to finaly put this assbandits away, I'm tired of the colts ending our seasons.

tk13
10-30-2004, 02:56 AM
I hadn't realized Jefferson was hurt for the Colts. I know Al needs to establish the run, but Indy could be starting two rookie corners on Sunday... the Indy paper says rookies Jason David and Von Hutchins were the corners on the first team defense in practice today (and I guess would start if Harper and Jefferson can't go). I think it might be real hard for Al to resist putting it in the air...

Miles
10-30-2004, 03:02 AM
I hadn't realized Jefferson was hurt for the Colts. I know Al needs to establish the run, but Indy could be starting two rookie corners on Sunday... the Indy paper says rookies Jason David and Von Hutchins were the corners on the first team defense in practice today (and I guess would start if Harper and Jefferson can't go). I think it might be real hard for Al to resist putting it in the air...

Thats some nice news. There pass D has been poor at best and now they are even weaker. I hope we dont deviate from the run too much but this helps our passing game to knock em around if they try to play for the run.

FloridaChief
10-30-2004, 03:06 AM
I hadn't realized Jefferson was hurt for the Colts. I know Al needs to establish the run, but Indy could be starting two rookie corners on Sunday... the Indy paper says rookies Jason David and Von Hutchins were the corners on the first team defense in practice today (and I guess would start if Harper and Jefferson can't go). I think it might be real hard for Al to resist putting it in the air...

Problematic. I can see Saunders licking his chops over Indy's CB woes and envision Priest getting 4 carries in the 1st half...

beer bacon
10-30-2004, 03:07 AM
Yeah, I just heard at another board that their #1 and 2 CBs are going to be fifth and six round pick rookies as well as their nickle being a guy they just signed off the practice squad :hmmm:

tk13
10-30-2004, 03:12 AM
Problematic. I can see Saunders licking his chops over Indy's CB woes and envision Priest getting 4 carries in the 1st half...
Well, on the other hand, the Colts will probably play a lot of zone anyway... I know they aren't all world recievers, but if Morton and Kennison can't abuse a couple of rookie corners, there are some real problems. I do believe Jason David has been a pleasant surprise for the Colts, but I don't think he's been forced into the #1 CB role. I almost bet either Harper or Jefferson starts, it'd be defensive suicide if they didn't. If they do start they won't be 100% though.

beer bacon
10-30-2004, 03:16 AM
Well, on the other hand, the Colts play a lot of zone anyway... I know they aren't all world recievers, but if Morton and Kennison can't abuse a couple of rookie corners, there are some real problems. I do believe Jason David has been a pleasant surprise for the Colts, but I don't think he's been forced into the #1 CB role. I almost bet either Harper or Jefferson starts, it'd be defensive suicide if they didn't. If they do start they won't be 100% though.

It seems that Morton has finally woken up. He has made a lot of clutch catches lately.

Count Alex's Losses
10-30-2004, 03:28 AM
Chiefs need to throw some jump balls to Morton. 6'0 vs 5'8 is a huge mismatch.

Gaz
10-30-2004, 07:23 AM
It will be a rough day for our CBs. Great QB, great WRs. The Colts are going to complete a lot of passes, even if the CBs play well.

xoxo~
Gaz
Cannot see how the game is not a shootout.

Wile_E_Coyote
10-30-2004, 09:22 AM
Medical update

Cornerbacks Nick Harper (shoulder) and Joseph Jefferson (knee) missed their third day of practice Friday. Their availability for Sunday's game might not be determined until just prior to the game. Rookies Jason David and Von Hutchins worked with the No. 1 defense Friday.

Dungy was optimistic guard Tupe Peko (back) would play against the Chiefs even though he missed his third day of work. Guard Rick DeMulling (ankle) and wide receiver/kick returner Brad Pyatt (ankle) practiced and should play. Safety Cory Bird (calf/knee) will not play.

Bowser
10-30-2004, 09:33 AM
Medical update

Cornerbacks Nick Harper (shoulder) and Joseph Jefferson (knee) missed their third day of practice Friday. Their availability for Sunday's game might not be determined until just prior to the game. Rookies Jason David and Von Hutchins worked with the No. 1 defense Friday.

Dungy was optimistic guard Tupe Peko (back) would play against the Chiefs even though he missed his third day of work. Guard Rick DeMulling (ankle) and wide receiver/kick returner Brad Pyatt (ankle) practiced and should play. Safety Cory Bird (calf/knee) will not play.

Wow. And I thought WE were banged up.............

Deberg_1990
10-30-2004, 09:43 AM
It will be a rough day for our CBs. Great QB, great WRs. The Colts are going to complete a lot of passes, even if the CBs play well.

xoxo~
Gaz
Cannot see how the game is not a shootout.



Agreed Gaz. This will be a high scoring game. Manning, James, Harrison, Wayne and Stokley are just to good to contain for 4 quarters. They will have their moments.

Bowser
10-30-2004, 09:57 AM
Agreed Gaz. This will be a high scoring game. Manning, James, Harrison, Wayne and Stokley are just to good to contain for 4 quarters. They will have their moments.

This is exactly why we need to RUN THE FREAKING BALL!

R&GHomer
10-30-2004, 10:38 AM
This is exactly why we need to RUN THE FREAKING BALL!


Yep, keep payton and company off the field as much as possible.

the Talking Can
10-30-2004, 10:41 AM
great news about their corners...we don't need to pass more, but we need to go deep more....plus, with those rookies the Safties aren't going to be able to cheat against the run...the secret winner in all of this is Tony G....if we keep sending our Wrs deep there in no one on the Colts D who can run withTony across the middle...with these injuries I'd say their D is worse than last year.....BOO-YA!

BigChiefFan
10-30-2004, 11:00 AM
We have to finaly put this assbandits away, I'm tired of the colts ending our seasons.

I agree. It's time for the Chiefs to turn the corner and get the momentum going in our direction. The Colts game is huge for the Chiefs and a win is just the type of win that we need to right the ship.
I think Gunther's scheme has really helped both Warfield and Bartee because of their physical abilities and it's good to see Bartee coming into his own. I hope he picks Manning a couple of times. That would be sweet.

Deberg_1990
10-30-2004, 11:53 AM
This is exactly why we need to RUN THE FREAKING BALL!


Agreed.....Time of possession is our D's best friend. I worry that Saunders will try and get too fancy like he has been known to do over the past 4 season and go with an Air Saunders attack too much....

Hydrae
10-30-2004, 12:17 PM
With the way our o-line blocks, if Priest gets into the secondary against these rookies, he may never stop running. Even with this news about their DBs, we still need to run first and then play action. We can only pray that Al agrees with us.

Mr. Laz
10-30-2004, 12:23 PM
i bet Harper plays


but if the colts do start to rookie corners it will help our running game as well as our passing game.

the colts will be more likely to keep the safeties back to the help protect their corners... they will prolly be less likely to blitz with suspect corners.


IMO this helps our running game as well

milkman
10-30-2004, 11:52 PM
It will be a rough day for our CBs. Great QB, great WRs. The Colts are going to complete a lot of passes, even if the CBs play well.

xoxo~
Gaz
Cannot see how the game is not a shootout.


This is exactly why we need to RUN THE FREAKING BALL!

Exactly.
Run the ball, control the clock, wear down their D.

On D, hit the receivers in the mouth at the line, push the pocket, get Manning to move his feet.
He's not as accurate, and gets out of rythym when he has to move.

If the Chiefs control the clock, and play physical D on the receivers, and force Manning to move, this game won't be a shootout.

cheeeefs
10-31-2004, 01:03 AM
Exactly.
Run the ball, control the clock, wear down their D.

On D, hit the receivers in the mouth at the line, push the pocket, get Manning to move his feet.
He's not as accurate, and gets out of rythym when he has to move.

If the Chiefs control the clock, and play physical D on the receivers, and force Manning to move, this game won't be a shootout.

all true, I just fear the hot read when employing that strategy.

milkman
10-31-2004, 11:39 AM
all true, I just fear the hot read when employing that strategy.

I'm not talking about blitzing Manning.
I'm talking about getting pressure from the front four, especially Dalton and Sims/Browning.

Push the pocket in the middle and force Manning to move to his left or right.
Disrupt the timing for the passing game with physical play on their receivers.
Blitz only sparingly.

I know a lot of people want to see Manning pounded into the turf again and again, as would I.

But to win, we don't need a lot of sacks, just a lot of pressure.