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Arrowhead Report: Wednesday, October 27th

Posted Oct 27, 2010

Dexter McCluster nurses an ankle injury, Chan Gailey has no hard feelings and Ryan Fitzpatrick talks Facebook...it's all inside

Wednesday’s are turning into a homecoming of sorts at Arrowhead these past two weeks. On back-to-back Wednesday’s, the Chiefs announced the signing of a former area college football player. Today, that player was former Kansas State linebacker Mark Simoneau. Simoneau replaced former Missouri Tiger DL Atiyyah Ellison, who was signed last Wednesday, on the 53-man roster.

Though Simoneau grew up in Smith Center, Kansas, his return to Kansas City literally is a homecoming. Simoneau decided to make his permanent home in Kansas City three years ago while playing for the New Orleans Saints. He had been training in Kansas City since his release from New Orleans this past March.

“This is my hometown team, so it’s one of those things that if you think you have the opportunity to play here it would be awesome,” Simoneau said. “Well…here it is. I’m really fortunate to have this opportunity.”

 Right now the only certainty is that Simoneau will wear #99 for the Chiefs. Past that, the Chiefs will take it day-by-day. Simoneau last played in a NFL game in 2007, making 16 starts for the Saints that season. He has been on injured reserve in each of the past two seasons.

“We worked him out multiple times and we have some coaches on our staff that have been with him,” Coach Todd Haley said. “It’s no different than the receiver moves. We’re trying to get better at all times and if there is someone on our list that we think can help us do that, then we’re going to take a look.”

Read more about his return to the Chiefs Thursday morning on KCChiefs.com.

The Chiefs also completed a pre-Jacksonville swap at wide receiver when rookie Jeremy Horne rejoined the club’s practice squad today. Horne was waived last Saturday afternoon to make room for the promotion of fellow rookie WR Verran Tucker to the 53-man roster. Horne was eligible to return to the Chiefs after he cleared waivers.

Injury Report

All eyes will be on Chiefs WR Dexter McCluster this week.

McCluster left Sunday’s game in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury and was limited in his practice participation on Wednesday morning. He was in full dress during the portion of practice open to the media, but watched individual drills from the sideline.

“We’ve got a bunch of guys fighting through a bunch of things and Dexter is no different than anyone else,” Haley said. “That’s part of the NFL and part of becoming a good football player.”

McCluster’s role in the Chiefs offense has grown over the past few weeks. The rookie is currently third on the team with 15 receptions and saw his opportunities in the offensive backfield expand against Jacksonville.

“He had some carries that I was excited about and that’s something that I really wanted to see happen,” Haley said. “When you have some really good running backs, like we do, some guys can get lost in the shuffle. What I’m excited about is that we were able to get him in the backfield and carrying the football. He was able to do that pretty efficiently.”

Starting right guard Ryan Lilja is also nursing an injury suffered against Jacksonville and is wearing a bandage on his right hand as a result. The hand injury limited Lilja in practice today. Also, S Reshard Langford practiced with a helmet for the first time in several weeks, but was still listed as “limited.”

The Social Network & A Blocking QB

Buffalo QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has yet to see box office hit The Social Network, but he did attend Harvard at the same time as Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerburg. Fitzpatrick is a few years older than Zuckerberg, but remembers the impact that Facebook’s beginning had on the Harvard campus,

“When it started, it was just for Harvard,” Fitzpatrick remembered. “The Facebook was something at Harvard that was a hard-copy book of all the incoming freshman. Basically, it was a book that let you know where people lived around campus and just had a picture of them. It was more of a social thing when you met people at social events, just to put a name to a face and all of that.

“(Mark) put it online and while I was there it grew from just Harvard, to the Ivy Leagues, to all colleges and then to everybody in the world,” Fitzpatrick continued. “It’s been pretty incredible to see how fast it has expanded.”

As for Fitzpatrick’s memories of Arrowhead, they’re mostly fond. His only start at Arrowhead came last season in a 16-10 Bills victory over the Chiefs. Lifetime, Fitzpatrick is 2-0 as a starter against the Chiefs, completing 30 of 50 pass attempts for 215 yards with a TD and an INT. His first-career start against Kansas City came in the 2008 season finale as a member of the Cincinnati Bengals.

Despite throwing for a career-high 374 yards and four TDs last Sunday in Baltimore, Fitzpatrick expects the Bills to focus on the run this weekend.

 “We want to run the football and that’s going to be the battle this week,” Fitzpatrick said. “That’s going to be our identity and it’s what we’re trying to establish. We want to run it and they want to stop it. I think that will be a big part of the game.”

There’s a good chance that Fitzpatrick will personally play a role in Buffalo’s rushing attack this weekend. Today, Haley called Fitzpatrick the best blocking quarterback in the NFL.

“He’s an aggressive quarterback and he’s athletic,” LB Derrick Johnson said. “It’s going to be hard to get blocked by a quarterback, but I know he’ll try his best. If we do match up, hopefully I can win that one.”

Gailey: “No Hard Feelings”

Over a year later, it’s safe to say that Todd Haley’s decision to part ways with former Chiefs offensive coordinator Chan Gailey, just before the 2009 season, ended in a win-win situation for both parties. The Chiefs were able to build an offensive base last season that has continued with the hiring of Charlie Weis, and Gailey’s open employment status helped him land his second NFL head coaching job.

The two men obviously had their differences in football philosophy, but the fact that both parties have moved in positive directions is likely one of the reasons that neither coach is paying much mind to what transgressed last preseason.

“I understood exactly where Todd was coming from,” Gailey said via conference call Wednesday morning. “He and I were on different pages and he wanted to do things the way he wanted to do it and I understand that completely. I’ve been there. I know exactly what was going on. There are no hard feelings, its business and I understand it. You go on with life. That’s the way it is.”

Gailey went on to admit that he felt the timing of his departure was unusual, but the fact it happened was not a surprise. He is currently undergoing many of the same issues during his first year in Buffalo that Haley experienced last season in Kansas City. One of those struggles happens to be transitioning from a 4-3 defense into a 3-4 scheme.

“The personnel is always the toughest thing, making sure you have the right people in the right spots; what they do and what they can’t do and trying to put them in a position to be successful,” Gailey said. “It’s happened quicker on offense, but not on defense. We were hoping to transition to a 3-4 defense a little quicker, but is hasn’t happened. It may take a year, kind of like its taken Kansas City.”

Buffalo’s defense currently ranks 9th against the pass and 32nd against the run.

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