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Arrowhead Report: Nothing Personal For Albert

Posted Oct 6, 2011

Branden Albert says showdown with Jared Allen wasn't personal, plus Red Zone statistics and another update on Jonathan Baldwin

Branden Albert wanted to shoulder the load of Kansas City’s run game last Sunday against Minnesota. All week he lobbied the coaching staff to run off his back hip. Following Sunday’s victory, Albert was as fired up as any player inside the Chiefs locker room.

Half a week later, Albert admits there was something personal about last week’s game. But he says his motivation had nothing to do with squaring off against Jared Allen for the first time.

“Nope,” Albert said after Thursday’s practice. “It was just that time to step up and be the player that I am and the player that I’m trying to be in order to help this team out.”

Albert was one of the draft picks acquired when the Chiefs made the unpopular decision to trade Allen to the Vikings in 2008. With Albert starting at left tackle for the Chiefs and Allen at right defensive end for the Vikings, the matchup made for an intriguing storyline.

Though Allen did finish with two sacks, Albert wasn’t beaten by the Pro Bowl pass rusher.

Allen’s first sack came after he disengaged Albert and looped across the line of scrimmage to pursue Matt Cassel as the quarterback scrambled towards the opposite sideline. Allen’s second sack came just behind the line of scrimmage after Cassel tucked and ran because of heavy pressure coming off the opposite offensive edge.  

Albert handled Allen in the run game as well. The Chiefs averaged 7.7 yards per carry running off left tackle, finishing the day with 54 yards on seven attempts.  

“Like I keep telling everybody, I’m trying to be a leader,” Albert said. “Whatever that role is, I’m trying to fill it, but it takes time and progress.”

Albert’s assignment doesn’t get any easier this week in Indianapolis. For the second time in as many games he’ll square off against an All-Pro defensive end. This week it’s Dwight Freeney.

“He’s a hell of a player,” said Albert. “He’s one of the best out there, if not the best. I have a lot of respect for him. He has a lot of sacks, is a great football player overall and it’s going to be a great challenge.”

The Colts don’t move their defensive ends around much, so Albert can expect to see plenty of Freeney on Sunday.

Red Zone Woes

The Chiefs Red Zone struggles were something we examined on Chiefs LIVE! earlier this week and it’s caught the eye of Coach Todd Haley as well.

Currently, the Chiefs rank 32nd in Red Zone offensive efficiency and 31st in Red Zone defensive efficiency.

“I think the number one thing that we need to do is get in (the Red Zone) more,” Haley said of the offensive struggles. “We weren’t able to get in there very much at all early on because we turned the ball over too much.

“Now, we’ve done a better job protecting the football, which then has given us some Red Zone opportunities, but you really just need more. We’ve only been in there 10 times. There’s teams that have been in there 20, 21, 22 times, so that’s not a statistic that guarantees you any kind of success, but I think it generally is good the more you get in there.”

Offensively, the Chiefs have converted just 3-of-10 Red Zone visits into touchdowns. Defensively, opponents are scoring touchdowns at a 70.6% clip, converting 12-of-17 Red Zone visits into touchdowns.

The Chiefs first offensive drive against Minnesota was a portrait of those struggles. After notching a first-and-10 from the Vikings 11-yard line, the Chiefs went backwards because of a negative run and a 15-yard face mask penalty. Kansas City would end up settling for a 40-yard Ryan Succop field goal.

Later in the first half, the Chiefs settled for another field goal after seeing a first-and-goal from the Vikings nine-yard line. That was the offensive series that featured goal-to-go throwaways on second and third down.

“When we get in to the red zone and things we have, we need to work hard, continue to do a good job of executing in the red, and I will say we’ve been relatively conservative in the red also for other reasons,” Haley said. “We’ve just got to continue to make progress, continue to get better and as guys work their way into the lineup.”

At the end of that quote, Haley was referring to rookie WR Jonathan Baldwin, whose size and leaping ability should help offensive Red Zone numbers improve when he returns.

Not Ready To Declare Baldwin Ready Just Yet

It’s impossible to argue that Jonathan Baldwin isn’t closing in on making his NFL debut, but will it come this Sunday?

Baldwin was a full participant in practice once again Thursday afternoon and Coach Haley was encouraged by his progress. Even so, the Chiefs still aren’t tipping their hand regarding Baldwin’s active status for this weekend.

“I don’t know (if he will be active) yet,” Haley said. “We’re working through roster numbers and all those things each night to try to sort through. We’ve got to have the best 46 guys out there that give us the best chance to win in all areas – offense, defense and special teams.

“So, we’ll see. Like I said, he’s had two really good days, so that’s been really, really encouraging to everybody.”

With the bye week looming, Baldwin would have three full weeks of practice before the Chiefs next game. The team must make an official injury designation on Baldwin following Friday’s practice.

Chiefs Injury Report

WR Terrance Copper returned to practice after missing Wednesday’s session because of illness.

WR Terrance Copper – Full Participant (Illness)

WR Jonathan Baldwin – Full Participant (Thumb)

S Jon McGraw – Full Participant (Knee)

Colts Injury Report

DE Dwight Freeney was upgraded to a full practice participant after missing Wednesday’s session. Also, DT Fili Moala was upgraded to a limited participant after not practicing on Wednesday.

After practicing on Wednesday, backup TE Brody Eldgridge was downgraded and missed practice Thursday afternoon. Also, RB Joseph Addai and DE Robert Mathis received non-injury related rest on Thursday and did not participate in practice.

QB Peyton Manning – OUT (Neck)

T Anthony Castonzo – Did Not Participate in Practice (Ankle)

G Ryan Diem – Did Not Participate in Practice (Ankle)

DT Drake Nevis – Did Not Participate in Practice (Back)

Limited Participants: QB Kerry Collins (Concussion), DT Fili Moala (Ankle), LB Ernie Sims (Knee)

Full Participants: TE Brody Eldridge (Knee), DE Dwight Freeney (Abdominal), G Mike Pollak (Arm), G Joe Reitz (Ankle)

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