Sunday, September 1, 2013

Chiefs brain trust puts stamp on roster

Kansas’ McDougald cut; Opurum signs with practice squad


— The phrase became the butt of jokes around the Kansas City Chiefs with every loss last season. It was mentioned in snarky headlines and glib comments every time there was locker room strife.

The phrase was “finding the right 53,” the promise that former Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli made when he arrived in Kansas City. It didn’t always mean the strongest player, or the fastest player. But it meant that Pioli wanted to find the right mix of players to populate the locker room.

He never managed to do it, either. That’s why he was shown the door.

Now, Chiefs general manager John Dorsey and coach Andy Reid are assembling what they believe is the right 53, and they made a slew of transactions on Sunday in pursuit of it.

They claimed cornerbacks Marcus Cooper and Ron Parker, wide receiver Chad Hall, defensive tackle Jaye Howard, tight end Sean McGrath, and linebackers James-Michael Johnson and Dezman Moses off waivers while releasing tight end Kevin Brock, cornerback Jalil Brown, linebacker Zac Diles, defensive tackle Jerrell Powe, wide receiver Devon Wylie and former Kansas University safety Bradley McDougald.

In all, the Chiefs claimed seven players while releasing six. They had been one under the 53-man limit after trading linebacker Edgar Jones to the Dallas Cowboys for a draft pick Saturday night.

“We’ll see how things work out,” Reid said Sunday. “We’re early in it still.”

More than half of the roster has been turned over from the final game of last year. All three quarterbacks are new, as are all three tight ends, and there are 11 rookies on the roster.

Among the newcomers a pair of Ivy Leaguers: defensive end Mike Catapano, their seventh-round pick out of Princeton, and linebacker Josh Martin, an undrafted free agent out of Columbia.

Perhaps the right 53 means having the highest IQ in the league.

“This was a good bunch of guys. This team is very close,” Reid said. “I didn’t see any bad apples in the bunch here, they got along, and that was one of the strengths as a 90 unit.

“That was the easy part,” he said, “kind of blending this thing the way you wanted it. You didn’t have to worry about that. You could worry about who fit the team more as a player.”

Dorsey and Reid both have plenty of experience in trying to find the right 53.

In the case of Dorsey, it was as a longtime scout and front-office executive mostly with the Green Bay Packers. The Packers have been praised over the past two decades for building consistent winners using guys who weren’t necessarily household names — James Starks, Howard Green and Scott Wells, for example, all were key contributors to their last Super Bowl championship.

Reid went both directions — household names and relative unknowns — during his time in Philadelphia. He built the Eagles into a perennial contender with savvy draft picks and wise free-agent moves, but the last few years went the route of established veterans such as Nnamdi Asomugha.

“You have a new offense, a new defense, everybody is new, and everybody is trying to work toward the mesh part of the first regular-season game,” Dorsey said. “It’s a challenge.”

Bringing together a whole bunch of newcomers has its advantages, of course. They weren’t around the toxic atmosphere that enveloped the Chiefs last season. In many cases they come from accomplished teams and winning programs, so they know no better than to have success.

Notes: The Chiefs worked out for about an hour in the indoor facility Sunday. OG Jon Asamoah (calf), S Sanders Commings (collarbone) and LB Nico Johnson (high ankle sprain) did not practice. ... The Chiefs also signed eight players to the practice squad: LB Darin Drakeford, ex-Jayhawk FB Toben Opurum, TE Demetrius Harris, WR Frankie Hammond Jr., S Malcolm Bronson, and OLs Rokevious Watkins, Matt Reynolds and Tommie Draheim.


Phil Leister 7 years, 2 months ago

It'd be cool if the editors could put the former Jayhawks in bold in these AP articles. I don't give a crap about the Chiefs but I like scrolling through to find mention of former KU players.

Eric Williams 7 years, 1 month ago

UPDATE: McDougald was promoted from Chiefs practice squad. Will likely serve on special teams.

TexiCaliHawk 7 years, 2 months ago

Wow, that's too bad as I thought McDougald had made the 'final' cut . . . guess I was wrong -- how extremely cruel to be sooooo very close?! Good to see Opurum make the Chiefs Practice Squad, but I hope McDougald lands somewhere with a chance to play as I think he deserves it.

jhox 7 years, 2 months ago

Given his size and speed, I think McDougald will land somewhere. Especially after his performance Friday night. I'm disappointed, too, that the Chiefs didn't keep him. I suspect they'll live to regret the decision.

AsadZ 7 years, 2 months ago

I am too disappointed in that McDougald was cut. I hope that he is picked up another team.

nuleafjhawk 7 years, 2 months ago

I never expected to see "Chiefs" and "brain" in the same sentence......

Andy Godwin 7 years, 2 months ago

Not overly surprised that McDougald was cut. When you are one of the last players to make the final cut you are far from being safe. NFL teams always seem to covet the marginal players from other teams even though they have not participated in the new teams OTAs or their training camps. Surprised a bit by how many players the Chiefs turned over in a day and that McDougald was not at least signed to the practice squad (could mean his agent has another team interested in him making their 53 player roster). Dorsey and his staff study film constantly so they must think these players are an upgrade, but bringing in 7 players one week before the season opener means none will see much playing time anytime soon. Injuries happen so hopefully McDougald will have another chance.

kay_you 7 years, 2 months ago

Sadly, the Chiefs have not been able to find a suitable replacement for Len Dawson and signing unwanted 49er QB's is probably not going to work. Someone help me here but isn't Alex Smith about the 5th QB from SF we've signed?

John Boyle 7 years, 1 month ago

Yes, and Grbac and Bono were superstars!!! Ooops, maybe not. That Montana guy did well for the Chiefs helping them to the AFC championship game before going out with a concussion. DeBerg was also very solid for the Chiefs. Hopefully Smith will be more like Montana and DeBerg and not so much like Grbac and Bono.

DCLawHawk 7 years, 1 month ago

Trent Green came to K.C. by way of St. Louis, not from the San Francisco 49ers. DeBerg, Montana, Bono, Grbac, and now Smith all came to K.C. via S.F. And, of course, the Chiefs let go of QB Rich Gannon to the Bay Area where he became MVP of the league one year and led the Raiders to the Super Bowl. Letting him go was a dumb decision, but it's hard to keep a second-string QB when all your fans think he's better than the starter.

jgkojak 7 years, 1 month ago

Smith is a slight upgrade over Cassel. Given we have a top 5 running game, all Smith has to do is not screw up - which he seemed good at doing.

Eric Williams 7 years, 1 month ago

If nobody read my reply to the first post, McDougald has been promoted from the Chiefs practice squad to the 53-man roster. He will most likely just play on special teams.

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