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2010 Position Previews: Defensive End

Posted Jul 27, 2010

They may be the youngest position group on the Chiefs defense, but they're also one of the most important

Back for more: Glenn Dorsey; Wallace Gilberry; Bobby Greenwood; Tyson Jackson; Alex Magee

Welcome to KC: Jeffrey Fitzgerald (rookie free agent)

Departures: None

2009 Starts: Dorsey (14); Jackson (14); Magee (1)

Career Games Played: Dorsey (31); Gilberry (21); Jackson (16); Magee (15); Fitzgerald (0); Greenwood (0)

Preview: Once again, the Chiefs need their second and third-year players to step up in a big way. It may sound like a broken record, but this position group is exactly why improving the Chiefs young, in-house talent, is so important for this defense.

As a whole, the Chiefs are carrying 13 second or third-year players on the defensive side of the football. Each one of them has been in Todd Haley’s coaching system for over a year and nearly every single one of them has an opportunity to play a significant role for the team this fall (Insider Blog: The BIG Pack). With the defensive ends left largely intact from a year ago, two of the main focal points fit into the “tow’s and threes” category - Tyson Jackson and Glenn Dorsey.

With two top-five draft picks manning the outside edge of the Chiefs defensive line, a significant on-field commitment has been made to Jackson and Dorsey. They often represent both the beginning and the end of any conversation involving Kansas City’s defensive line. Team defense is an 11-man effort, but many believe that the Chiefs “D” will only go as far as its front line will take them.

Can the Chiefs line up and stop an opponent’s rush at the point of attack? What about the pass rush? Can the Chiefs front line create a significant push, collapsing the pocket on opposing quarterbacks?

Let’s take a look at the group…

After a rough beginning to training camp in 2009, Dorsey worked his way back into top shape and showed that he can be counted on as a three-down player. Actually, Dorsey didn’t just show it; he proved that the Chiefs need him to be a three-down player.

Whether it was playing a five-technique in base sets or shifting down in nickel packages, Dorsey was almost always on the field. When healthy, he typically saw the most snaps of any defensive lineman. When out of the lineup, the Bills and Brown paired to rush for 551 yards against the Chiefs defense.

With Jackson, people want to witness that big, unmistakable second-year leap. For a 3-4 defensive end, significant progress likely won’t equal Jackson carrying the team lead in sacks, or even in QB pressures for that matter. But it does amount to being a consistent force at the edge, against both the run and pass.

At the end of the year, judging the performance of Jackson and Dorsey will likely go hand-and-hand with judging the results of the Chiefs rushing defense as a whole. They, along with the rest of the defensive line, are very important cogs.

Past Jackson and Dorsey are a handful of versatile players, most notably Wallace Gilberry. Despite playing a reserve role for virtually the entire 2009 season, Gilberry led all Chiefs defensive lineman with 4.5 sacks. This off-season there was much inquiry from the Chiefs fans base as whether or not the smaller Gilberry, who's officially listed at 6-2, 268, would shift to outside linebacker (Gilberrry actually weighs about 276 pounds).

Head coach Todd Haley never specifically addressed a potential switch for Gilberry, only saying that he’s had “internal discussions” about various players changing positions. But on the actual practice field, Gilberry only played on the defensive line this spring and is expected to enter training camp at that post as well.

Gilberry often paired with Dorsey this off-season when the Chiefs went with a two-man front in nickel sets.

Rounding out the group are three more young players. 2009 third-round pick Alex Magee received increased playing time as the last season wrapped up, Bobby Greenwood spent the entire 2009 campaign on the practice squad and Jeffrey Fitzgerald was signed as a rookie free agent this spring out of Kansas State.

All three players mixed and matched with the reserve units during OTAs and mini-camp.

With the most experienced defensive end being Dorsey, Todd Haley made sweeping off-season changes to the men responsible for overseeing the progress of this very young position group. Former NFL defensive lineman Anthony Pleasant is now the Chiefs defensive line coach and new defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel obviously has a proven track record of developing top-notch talent on the defensive front.

A lot of effort was put into developing the Chiefs in-house talent on the defensive line this off-season.

Quotable: The following player or coach quotes occurred this off-season, relative to the position group.

Haley on Dorsey possibly moving to defensive tackle …

“He’s a potentially versatile player, there’s no doubt about it, but right now he’s where he is and he’s had a very good off-season. He’s light-years ahead of where he was last year, at least from the physical conditioning standpoint and that’s given him a chance to be out there and really work hard at trying to be an impact player for us.”

Despite playing the role of a 3-4 defensive end, Dorsey still wants to put up numbers in 2010…

“People judge off statistics. They don’t watch film to see if you’re maintaining your gap or anything like that. You could say that, at least statistically, I need more this year. But I also felt like I did a good job last year and my main focus is to build on that.”

Gilberry is ready to put the pads on…

“As defensive guys, we thrive on hitting people. It gives you something to get your swole on about and that’s what we do as defensive guys. You’ve got to protect your teammates, but at the same time it’s good to get your hands on somebody.”

Number Crunch: The Chiefs carried four defensive ends on the Opening Day roster in 2009 - *Dorsey, Gilberry, *Jackson and Magee

*indicates opening day starter

Up Next: Tight Ends

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