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Old 08-06-2005, 02:19 PM  
Mr. Laz Mr. Laz is offline
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New faces could make special difference on special teams

Posted on Sat, Aug. 06, 2005

CHIEFS TRAINING CAMP


New faces could make special difference on special teams

By ADAM TEICHER

The Kansas City Star


RIVER FALLS, Wis. — One day, it might be the sight of Dustin Colquitt nailing a deep, towering kick that provides realistic thought their punting woes are finished.

The next, it’s the play of rookies like Kris Griffin and Boomer Grigsby, who have special-teams potential, and the return of Marc Boerigter, a solid player who was sorely missed last season.

Finally, there’s the presence of Dante Hall, who always gives the Chiefs the feeling a game-turning play is imminent.

Almost daily, the Chiefs are able to view training-camp developments that enable them to feel good again about their special teams.

Yet the Chiefs remain uneasy about the state of their special teams, and there’s good reason for that, too. They struggled last year to cover kicks and lost two of their best special-teams players, Monty Beisel and Derrick Blaylock, to free-agency.

They are counting on unproven players like Colquitt, a rookie, to pull them through.

Optimistic, but guarded, is perhaps the best way to describe the Chiefs attitude.

“There’s even more emphasis on it this year, especially the coverage units,” Boerigter said. “I know they haven’t been happy with the way our special teams have been going in terms of the coverage units. The return game kind of speaks for itself. It hasn’t been a personnel thing. We’ve had a lot of injuries to key special-teams guys.”

Coach Dick Vermeil usually tries to build his roster with an eye toward special teams. Players with ability to help in the kicking game are favored when the final roster is formed, and that may be even more prevalent this year.

Griffin and Grigsby show potential at linebacker, but their best chance for playing this season is on special teams. Boerigter and Chris Horn have a better chance for claiming reserve receiving positions because of their special-teams skills.

“Some guys will probably end up making this football team because they’re even at the position they play but better on special teams,” Vermeil said. “We’ve got more good athletes. Special teams are a space game. You play so much of it in space. We have more athletes that can play in space and can both block and tackle in space.”

Griffin, who wasn’t drafted, shows a lot of the same qualities as Derrick Johnson, the first-round pick. He moves extremely well, allowing him to make a lot of plays. He’s the kind of player who should excel on special teams.

“We have to find younger guys who know their role,” Boerigter said. “When I came into the league, I knew I wasn’t going to start, so my chance to play was on special teams. That’s how I was going to get in the game. So the better you do, the more you’ll get to play.”

There are other dangers in counting on rookies, even on special teams.

“You can’t just show up and know how everything is done because there’s a lot to learn,” said Gary Stills, the Chiefs’ best special-teams player. “They need to learn fast. Losing Monty Beisel and Derrick Blaylock is big for us. Guys like that, they’re hard to replace. We could count on them. We drafted Boomer Grigsby. They brought in Kris Griffin. Those are the guys that need to get the job done.”

Colquitt has hit several prodigious punts. Most are also difficult to field because of an unusual rotation.

“He’s had some spectacular days out here, and he’s had some inconsistent days out here,” Vermeil said. “The preseason games will define how he can punt under pressure. When you give up a third-round pick, you’re obviously optimistic he can be successful.”

That he shouldn’t be fazed by punting in the NFL is another reason the Chiefs drafted Colquitt. He punted at a big-time college program at Tennessee. His father, Craig, punted in the NFL for eight seasons, so Dustin was exposed to the NFL at an early age.

“The biggest difference is that I’m going to be punting to a great return guy every game,” Colquitt said. “That puts the pressure on to make sure every punt is a good one and that you put it where you want to put it to help the coverage guys.”

Special-teams coach Frank Gansz Jr. said: “This is not too big for him. He started four years at Tennessee and made big plays in big games. He’s done it, and he’s got a lot of poise. The one thing I really like about him is the look in his eye.”

Then there’s Hall, whose return numbers were down slightly last year from 2003. The Chiefs are planning to lessen his work at receiver, leaving him stronger as a returner.

“Not having to carry that (receiving load),” Gansz said, “is going to make him even better.”


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Go to KansasCity.com for a photo gallery from Chiefs training camp.
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Old 08-06-2005, 02:56 PM   #2
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Old 08-06-2005, 02:57 PM   #3
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Old 08-06-2005, 03:00 PM   #4
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You were only behind by 12+ hours.
i guess i need to just stop sleeping so i can post stuff at midnight and chit.


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Old 08-06-2005, 03:08 PM   #5
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