|11-06-2006, 03:10 PM|
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WPI - Bober Bridge Over Injured Waters
Most Chiefs fans were probably worried when All-Pro guard Brian Waters suffered an injury early in Sunday’s game. When he went down in the second quarter, suddenly the offensive line that had been so solid the last several weeks was looking a little shaky. Thankfully, the Chiefs had the luxury of calling on a veteran like Chris Bober, who more than held his own on the offensive line.
This is becoming routine for the Chiefs. First Willie Roaf hangs up his cleats and then John Welbourn retires, only to be reinstated by the NFL. He saw his first action of the season and the results were not very solid.
But Waters’ loss was huge, and it could have sunk KC’s season. How many more injuries on this once-heralded offensive line can they survive?
The Chiefs managed to do just that on Sunday. Bober was outstanding against the Rams. He did a tremendous job plowing the road for Larry Johnson and he was a force up the middle as the Rams’ only pass rush came from the outside. The middle of the offensive line was locked down tighter than a UFO at Area 51.
Bober hasn’t had much of an opportunity to play this season. He’s had them in the past, but on Sunday, needing a huge victory on the road, he made the Chiefs feel a little bit better about Waters’ absence.
“I have a lot of experience in this league,” said Bober. “You have to be ready at anytime, and that’s what they’ve asked of me.”
When the season started, the offensive line had numerous question marks. In recent weeks that talk has centered around tackles Jordan Black and Kevin Sampson. They’ve been the starting tandem the last several weeks and the offense has played better.
Sunday, Sampson was unable to play and Kyle Turley filled in. He had his best game as a member of the Kansas City Chiefs. He did what Sampson has been unable to do, and that’s play equally well in pass protection and in sealing the outside in running situations.
But even with all the talk of the tackles nobody even brought up Bober’s name. Maybe they will now. Bober, who is adept at playing both tackle and guard, will now be thrust into the starting lineup until Waters returns.
Bober could care less where he plays as long as he can help this football team, but he did say he preferred left guard.
Those are the kind of guys that you want on your football team. You need veteran guys who can come in off the bench and do what has to be done when a starter falls to injury. Bober is the epitome of why you have a 53-man roster.
But Bober’s job might be the most difficult, at least in the interim, because the Rams’ defense didn’t think he’d play so well. They had to believe that with Waters out, the Chiefs would not be as effective in the run game.
But that wasn’t the case for Bober, who came to the Chiefs two years ago after starting at both tackle and guard in New York.
“I just want to keep this thing going,” said Bober. “That’s what our job is, and we’re all so close. Some of us have been together for three years now. Whenever someone goes down, we all have to fill in. But it was great being out there with the guys.”
It’s that type of mindset that permeates the depth throughout Kansas City’s roster. It’s one thing to be physically gifted, but Bober has the mentality to understand what has to be done and is comfortable coming off the bench.
Good offensive lineman don’t grow on trees, and Bober might be one of the most skilled veterans this team has on the line.
“We’re learning how to win on the road,” said Bober. “That’s what you have to do to be successful. That’s how you get to the playoffs.” And that is a realistic chance for this team. In years past under Dick Vermeil, he just couldn’t get his players to understand that. But Herm Edwards has done that this year. Kansas City is now 2-2 on the road, and Bober knows that’s the key to putting up more wins and earning a post-season berth.
“We took a major step today,” he said. “You have to learn how to win on the road. Unless you win your division or get one of those top seeds, you’re going to have to win a playoff game on the road. As the year goes on we need to have a mental toughness when we go on the road, and play like we do at Arrowhead.”
The game in St. Louis was almost like a home game for Kansas City. They needed that hometown feeling late in the game when St. Louis came within a touchdown.
On the ensuing drive the Chiefs drove the length of the field and got a game-sealing touchdown pass. With the defense battling injuries and sucking a little wind, the offense had to keep them off the field.
“We had a will to win,” said Bober. “We knew we had to give the defense a rest.”