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Old 08-16-2010, 12:52 AM  
Tribal Warfare Tribal Warfare is offline
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Covitz: Javier Arenas could be the Chiefs' next great return man

Javier Arenas could be the Chiefs' next great return man
By RANDY COVITZ
The Kansas City Star

ST. JOSEPH | Based on just two weeks of training camp and one exhibition game, Chiefs coach Todd Haley isn’t ready to declare rookie Javier Arenas the next Dante Hall.

But Arenas, a second-round draft pick from Alabama, gave an indication in the exhibition opener Friday at Atlanta that he has the ability to restore the Chiefs’ lineage of talented kick-return men that was severed with the departure of Hall in 2007.

In the 1960s, it was Nolan “Super Gnat” Smith; in the 1970s, it was Ed Podolak; in the ’80s it was J.T. Smith; in the ’90s, it was Tamarick Vanover. And during the first half of the 2000s, it was Hall, whose six kickoff and five punt returns with the Chiefs combined to rank third in NFL history.

Noland Smith (1968), Podolak (1970), J.T. Smith (1980) and Hall (2003) all led the league in punt returns once in their careers, and Vanover (1996) led the AFC in kickoff returns.

“A goal of a return man for Kansas City would be to be mentioned in the same sentences as those guys,” Arenas said Sunday. “But first and foremost, you want to contribute, you want to do your job.”

In his pro debut, Arenas returned three kickoffs for 85 yards, including a 42-yarder in the third quarter. In addition, a 99-yard return for a touchdown was nullified because of a holding penalty on rookie free agent Justin Cole.

“It was a good start for us as a unit,” said Arenas, who stiff-armed Atlanta kicker Steve Hauschka on the 42-yard return but couldn’t escape him before being pushed out of bounds.

“I just go back there and be me … playing loose and using my God-given ability and trusting the guys blocking for me. I’m getting a chance. It’s what I do with it.”

Arenas, selected with the draft pick the Chiefs obtained in the Tony Gonzalez trade, called fair catches on both of his punt-return opportunities and let one kickoff go for a touchback. Haley was as impressed with those two decisions as he was the returns.

“Right out of the gate, on the first punt return, he called a fair catch, in traffic, it’s in his own end; he had a couple of those factors to deal with,” Haley said. “He did a good job of not catching the one that went into the end zone. That’s a real good sign from a young guy.

“The whole team recognized if they could do their job up front on these kickoff returns and punt returns, we have a chance to make big plays, and that can be a weapon for us, if he continues to progress and do the things he’s been doing.”

Arenas came to the Chiefs with impeccable credentials as a kick returner at Alabama. His seven punt returns for touchdowns rank first in SEC history and third in NCAA history. He was also the only college football player ever to generate more than 1,500 yards in punt returns and 2,000 yards in kickoff returns in a career.

“There is a lot of natural instinct in that position, and he appears to be real good with the ball in his hands,” Haley said. “We’ve seen that on interceptions in college, we’ve seen it on the practice field. He’s got a natural feel for running with the football in his hands. He’s got good vision. He knows how to set blocks. He’s got a skill set that enables him to use all of his assets.”

Arenas is also playing nickel back with the first-team defense. The Falcons didn’t go with many three-receiver sets Friday, so Arenas will have to wait until the second exhibition game on Saturday night at Tampa Bay to get more involved with the defense.

Arenas, who is just 5-foot-9 and 197 pounds, intercepted six passes in his two years as a starting left cornerback at Alabama, including five as a senior for the national-champion Tide. He also was a successful on-the-corner blitzer, recording seven sacks, including five as a senior. And he was beaten for just one touchdown.

“I play cornerback,” Arenas said, not wanting to be typecast as just a return man. “Returning is second for me. I’m not being greedy and saying I just want to do one thing. When I go out there and practice and give it my all, wherever role is, I’ll do the best.”
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Old 08-16-2010, 02:04 AM   #2
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Shitty in coverage. Still a stupid 2nd round pick.
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Old 08-16-2010, 04:17 AM   #3
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Shitty in coverage. Still a stupid 2nd round pick.
Weren't you the one that said Arenas was slow?
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Old 08-16-2010, 05:05 AM   #4
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Shitty in coverage. Still a stupid 2nd round pick.
Personally, I wouldn't judge any player after one preseason game: good or bad. I'm crazy that way.
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Old 08-16-2010, 05:14 AM   #5
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At least it was a good start.. better than had he fumbled twice or something
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Old 08-16-2010, 05:17 AM   #6
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Weren't you the one that said Arenas was slow?
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Arenas and McCluster were called slow by quite a few on here.
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Old 08-16-2010, 05:38 AM   #7
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Arenas was a good pick. He'll win us two games this year with returns. Watch and see!
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Old 08-16-2010, 06:07 AM   #8
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Arenas was an outstanding return man in college. This is no surprise. Lets see if he can learn to play corner.

McCluster was the entire Ole Miss offense last year. For anyone who watches a lot of SEC football it's also no surprise to see him be a dynamic runner/receiver.
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Old 08-16-2010, 06:09 AM   #9
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Shitty in coverage. Still a stupid 2nd round pick.
Yeah? How was that Texas/Neb game for ya last year!
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Old 08-16-2010, 06:15 AM   #10
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Is it just me or do "great" return guys only seem to have one or two good seasons and then fade. Jermaine Lewis, Dante Hall, Hester.....
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Old 08-16-2010, 06:16 AM   #11
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Shitty pick or not, the return game was no question a weakness on this team that needed addressed.
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Old 08-16-2010, 07:19 AM   #12
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Is it just me or do "great" return guys only seem to have one or two good seasons and then fade. Jermaine Lewis, Dante Hall, Hester.....
Seems that way, doesn't it. I wonder how many actually good seasons we'll see out of Josh Cribbs
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Old 08-16-2010, 07:43 AM   #13
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Is it just me or do "great" return guys only seem to have one or two good seasons and then fade. Jermaine Lewis, Dante Hall, Hester.....
Mel Grey, Rod Woodson, Brian Mitchell anyone?...
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Old 08-16-2010, 08:18 AM   #14
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Mel Grey, Rod Woodson, Brian Mitchell anyone?...
Tammarick Vanover...

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Old 08-16-2010, 08:20 AM   #15
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At least we have a returnman now ...
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