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Tribal Warfare
08-13-2010, 11:53 PM
Preseason blitz (http://www.kansascity.com/2010/08/13/2149060/preseason-blitz.html)

Highlight

Jamaal Charles broke a 13-yard run in the second quarter during what became the most productive series with members of the first-team offense. During that possession, Charles appeared to pick up where he finished his breakout season in 2009, adding a 12-yard rush and a catch. Charles finished with 37 yards in four carries.

Lowlight

Falcons defensive end Kroy Biermann stripped the ball from Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel, punctuating a second consecutive disappointing Kansas City possession. Not much seemed to work with the starting offense, least of all the offensive line. The Chiefs went three-and-out on their first series, before Biermann’s sack and strip. Cassel’s longest completion was 6 yards.

What we learned

The Chiefs didn’t look much different from the group that went 4-12 a season ago. There was inconsistent blocking, poor run defense, a pass rush that came close a few times but failed to deliver sacks and too many dropped passes. There wasn’t much encouragement other than Charles’ production. Sound familiar? Rookie wide receiver Dexter McCluster did look promising, but otherwise, the Chiefs didn’t show much reason for optimism.

Next question

Can the defense improve? Kansas City’s rush defense looked awful in the first quarter, allowing 46 yards to Michael Turner and Jason Snelling. The Chiefs’ pass rush came close to quarterback Matt Ryan and backup Chris Redman, but they weren’t able to bring them down. Kansas City’s front seven was a worry before Friday’s preseason opener; those worries weren’t eased at the Georgia Dome.

The hot seat

Right tackle Ryan O’Callaghan might face some pressure this season, and he didn’t do himself many favors Friday night. Defenders got past him too often, and it stoked old questions about why the Chiefs didn’t do more during the offseason to upgrade at an important line position. Now, the team is in a bind if O’Callaghan doesn’t improve; neither Colin Brown nor Barry Richardson offer much confidence.

Stock watch

•Going up: DexterMcCluster continued his impressive preseason, averaging 5 yards per carry and catching three passes for 23 yards. He was one of the quickest players on the field Friday and was able to use his speed to gain yards even on busted plays. The Chiefs haven’t yet perfected their pass offense — and McCluster’s role in it — but it’s clear the youngster has plenty of talent.

•Going down: Tight end Leonard Pope dropped what would’ve been a 16-yard pass late in the second quarter, and the Chiefs had to pass up a chance to try for a go-ahead touchdown and instead kick a tying field goal. Kansas City has plenty of experience with dropped passes, but the team thought it was past mistakes such as those Pope made Friday.

•Staying the same: Ryan Succop missed two field-goal chances, but both kicks were 53 yards. That distance isn’t easy for any kicker, but Succop showed on the first miss — the ball hit the left upright — that he has plenty of power from long range. Succop made a 20-yarder before halftime and tied the score at 3-3.