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Arrowhead Report: Wednesday, December 1st

Posted Dec 1, 2010

Chiefs add Richardson to thinning secondary, Gafford looks to the future and players embrace a quick turnaround against Denver

Providing a counterblow to an earlier loss is on the minds of many in Kansas City this week. Just 16 days have passed since the Broncos jumped out to a 35-0 lead over the Chiefs and cruised to an easy 20-point victory in Denver.

“This team handled us pretty easily, in my opinion,” Coach Todd Haley said. “The one good thing -it could be a good thing, or a bad thing – but at least getting another opportunity to try and be a little more competitive the second time around. That part of it, coming back again pretty quick is important to us.”

 The blowout loss served as catalyst for the Chiefs to re-evaluate their work schedule. Full pads returned to practice sessions and the team took a basic to basics approach going forward. Thus far, the results have been nothing but positive.

Since the embarrassment in INVESCO Kansas City has gone 2-0, outscoring opponents 73-37 and outrushing the competition 429-121. The traits that made the Chiefs successful earlier in the season have re-appeared since the team’s November 14th meeting with Denver.

“It was clearly our worst game of the year for a lot of different reasons,” Haley said.

Though the Chiefs have seemed to have found their identity once again, this Sunday’s meeting offers an opportunity for the Chiefs to show that they’ve gone full-circle against the team that forced Kansas City to take a long look at itself in the mirror.

“We know that we have to beat them to get into a better spot and to get to a better place,” S Kendrick Lewis said.

 “They embarrassed us,” DE Shaun Smith added. “I want to embarrass them.”

Richardson Re-Joins Chiefs

With injuries mounting at the cornerback position, the Chiefs brought back veteran CB Mike Richardson Wednesday morning. Richardson, who played in 11 games and made one start for Kansas City last season, was released in early September following a competitive training camp battle for roster spots in the secondary.

“I was just trying to stay in shape and hoping that somebody would give me a call,” Richardson said. “I’d been traveling back and forth between Boston and Georgia visiting friends and family, but I actually still had my place here. I did as much as I could and stayed in shape. You never know when you’re going to get a call.”

The addition of Richardson gives the Chiefs more depth at cornerback. Starter Brandon Flowers was inactive with a hamstring injury last weekend in Seattle and Flowers’ replacement, Jackie Bates, suffered injury as well. Those injuries forced rookie Javier Arenas to shift to the outside from his primary role as nickel cornerback and pressed Travis Daniels into action.

At one point last season Richardson was the Chiefs primary nickel back, but by mid-November those duties belonged to Daniels. Richardson also proved to be a reliable special teams player in 2009 and should add a hand to those units as well. He tallied the fourth-most special teams tackles on the club (12) despite playing in just 11 games last year.

Richardson will wear #30 in his second stint with the team. He previously wore #23, but Kendrick Lewis claimed that jersey number following Richardson’s release in September.

Rookie LB Justin Cole was released to create the roster space for Richardson. An undrafted player out of San Jose State, Cole was a developmental player going through the NFL’s version of a redshirt season. He had been on the Chiefs 53-man roster since Opening Day, but was inactive for all 11 games this season.

Gafford Feels Wanted

The Chiefs shuffled through a number of snappers after local long-snapping legend Kendall Gammon threw the football between his legs for the final time in 2006. Gammon turned in his shoulder pads for a microphone and joined the Chiefs Radio Network as a sideline reporter after becoming a free agent in 2007. At times, it was tempting to ask Gammon if he could still suit up.

Some four seasons after Gammon’s 106-game run as Kansas City’s snapping specialist, the Chiefs have made a longer-term commitment to another long snapper. Thomas Gafford (pictured) said today that he has signed a contract extension with the team.

“I’m happy to be wanted,” Gafford said. “Dustin (Colquitt), Ryan (Succop) and I have a good thing here. I’m excited that we can be together for at least another two years and hopefully longer after that.”

By no means is Gafford new to the team. He’s played in 36 games with the Chiefs since joining the squad at mid-season in 2008. He’d go on to get the nod over J.P. Darche heading into the 2009 offseason, but was later cut in favor of rookie Tanner Purdum before training camp a year ago. After two months of Purdum (June 17th – August 18th), the Chiefs came calling again and Gafford returned to the roster. Now, it looks as if Gafford is here to stay.

As a former prep wide receiver, quarterback, tight end and strong safety, Gafford brings some athleticism to the position. He actually practiced during the 2009 preseason as an emergency tight end, though has never appeared outside of special team in the NFL.  Gafford currently owns three special teams tackles and a fumble recovery in 2010.

With a team-first attitude and his contributions to the organization over the past two seasons, it isn’t surprising that the Chiefs decided that Gafford was a keeper.

“I want to be known as a guy that is running down there making tackles and that is a factor in coverage and eventually work my way into a leadership role on the team.” Gafford said. “That takes a lot of time and a lot of blood, sweat and tears poured out with the guys. But I don’t want to be just a long snapper. I want to be a factor on the team too.

“That’s just who I am,” Gafford continued. “I’m not a guy who can just sit on the sidelines and watch. I’m a guy who has to own what he does. I try to attack it with a lot of purpose and I feel like I’ve done that and it’s been successful.”

Gafford was originally set to become a free agent following the 2010 season.

Injury Report

Cornerback Jackie Bates did not participate in practice Wednesday morning, following his first NFL start in place of an injured Brandon Flowers in Seattle. Bates injured his knee while covering a deep pass to WR Ben Obomanu in the third quarter and did not return. Flowers, however, did return to practice in a limited capacity on Wednesday as he continues to nurse a hamstring injury.

Starting right guard Ryan Lilja (limited) and veteran safety Jon McGraw (full) also appeared on Wednesday’s injury report. Lilja battled through the same foot injury last weekend, but was able to play against the Seahawks. McGraw has missed the last three games with a head injury.

The big names removed from Kansas City's injury report were left tackle Branden Albert and WR Dexter McCluster. Abert missed Sunday's game with a groin injury and McCluster has been inactive for the past five games with an ankle injury.

Awards Central: The O-Line, Cassel and Charles

The Chiefs offensive line took home Hall of Fame coach John Madden's Prilosec Protectors Award for Week 12. Kansas City became the first team to win this award two times this season after churning out 270 rushing yards and not allowing a quarterback sack in Seattle. That 270-yard effort marked the fifth game this season that the Chiefs have rushed for more than 200 yards. Even more impressive is the fact that the Chiefs did so without starting left tackle Branden Albert. Winning the award now makes Kansas City a strong contender for the 2010 Madden Most Valuable Protectors Award.

Also on the awards front, Chiefs QB Matt Cassel and RB Jamaal Charles are among the Week 12 nominees for FedEx Air and Ground Players of the Week. Cassel threw four TD passes against the Seahawks to increase his 2010 TD/INT ratio to 22/4 and Charles finished with 173 rushing yards, averaging 7.9 yards per carry on 22 attempts.

Fans can vote for one player in each category on NFL.com/FedEx  through 11:00 AM CST on Friday to determine the FedEx Air & Ground NFL Players of the Week. The winners will be announced Friday evening on NFL.com.

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