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Andy Studebaker prepares for another pinch hit role

Posted Aug 20, 2012

Studebaker is currently the next man up with Tamba Hali facing suspension Week One vs. Atlanta


Andy Studebaker knows that he isn’t Tamba Hali. He also knows that he doesn’t have to be.

Studebaker looks like the next man up when it comes to replacing the Pro Bowl sack artist in Kansas City’s regular season opener against Atlanta on September 9th. The NFL handed Hali a one-game suspension on Monday for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.

“I think in any situation, whoever it might end up being, you take opportunities how they come,” Studebaker said following Monday’s practice. “You don’t know how they’re going to come. That’s why you work hard every single day, whether you’re a backup, whether you’re a starter because sometimes the team is going to need you.

“Whoever steps into that role is going to be the starter that day, and we as a team are going to be glad that they worked as hard as they did as backups. Take opportunity when it comes.”

For now, Studebaker is the leading candidate. He’s served as an effective pinch hitter throughout his Chiefs career though most of his action has come at the outside linebacker spot opposite Hali.

In 2009 Studebaker made his first career start for an injured Mike Vrabel and responded with two interceptions, including one that he returned 94 yards in Kansas City’s victory over the defending Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers.

He also came up with one of the most memorable and bizarre plays in recent years by recovering a fumbled snap from Philip Rivers in the closing moments of last year’s Monday Night Football victory over San Diego.

“Studebaker is the next guy up,” head coach Romeo Crennel said. “We always look at guys and see what’s going to happen. Studebaker, he’s played both left and right for us in the past, so we’ll look there the next week and a half and see how it goes. And then when we start preparing for the Atlanta game, then we’ll determine how we’re going to play the game.”

Cameron Sheffield is currently listed as the top reserve behind Hali on the Chiefs two-deep, but the former 2010 fifth-round draft pick is nursing a groin injury and missed last weekend’s game at St. Louis.

Free agent acquisition Edgar Jones and 2011 fifth-round draft pick Gabe Miller factor into Kansas City’s outside linebacker rotation as well.

“Like any other time, other players have to step up,” said veteran Pro Bowl linebacker Derrick Johnson. “It’s just like having an injury or anything. This is the NFL, so we’ll handle it like pros. That’s the main thing I have. I don’t really have any comments on (the suspension).”

Hail is permitted to continue practicing and playing with the Chiefs for the rest of the preseason and was present at Monday’s practice session. He did not address the media, but issued a statement on his suspension.

“I apologize to my teammates, the Hunt family, the Kansas City Chiefs organization and, most importantly, our fans,” Hali said through the written statement. “I accept the discipline from the league and will return Week Two of the NFL season with a commitment to erase this mistake with my play on the field and my conduct off of it.”

Hali has only missed one game during his six-year career with the Chiefs. He owns 53.5 career sacks and has led the team in quarterback takedowns every year of his career except for the 2007 season when Jared Allen paced the NFL with 15.5 sacks.

The rest of the outside linebackers on Kansas City’s roster own a combined total of 9.5 sacks between them.

“I think every year you get a little better at everything, and you put in a lot of time in the offseason working on that kind of stuff,” Studebaker said of improving his pass rush ability. “We, specifically, as a team have done a lot of work in that area, and I think we’ve improved on that. Individually, I feel a lot more confident on that even from a year ago.”

Career Sacks: Chiefs Outside Linebackers

Player

Games Played

Games Started

Sacks

Tamba Hali

95

95

53.5

Justin Houston

16

10

5.5

Andy Studebaker

54

7

2.5

Edgar Jones

41

0

1.5

Cameron Sheffield

16

1

0

Gabe Miller

0

0

0

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