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Chiefs Seek Measured Progress In Preseason Finale

Posted Aug 31, 2011

Team wants to take advantage of final tune-up as regular season approaches

Fresh off what many inside the Chiefs organization are calling one of the better weeks of practice this training camp, Kansas City still seeks a taste of positive reinforcement in Thursday night’s preseason finale at Green Bay.

“I’d like us to feel like we’re making progress,” Head Coach Todd Haley said.

Though the Chiefs feel that their preparations are on schedule heading into the regular season opener, external reinsurance has been difficult to come by in exhibition play. Three games have amounted to three losses.

Out front and center of preseason struggles has been the Chiefs offensive starters. In the first three exhibition contests, the first-team offense has found it difficult to sustain any type of drive and has yet to find the end zone.

“Offensively, we haven’t exactly pounded the rock like we did last year,” said QB Matt Cassel. “At this time, we’re still trying to get used to some new plays that we’ve added and we’ll move forward from there.”

Defensively, the first-team unit is striving for consistency.

“I think we’ve shown flashes of really good plays on defense – good team defense – but there are little things that we need to cleanup and that’s what the preseason if for,” said LB Derrick Johnson. “I’m glad we don’t start the regular season right during camp because there are things we need to cleanup and we’re doing that now.”

The losses haven’t led to panic, but a heightened sense of urgency has coincided with the Chiefs preparations this week. Traditionally a game to rest starters, Haley indicated that many of Kansas City’s core players would see action Thursday night against the defending Super Bowl champions.

Haley’s personnel approach is part of a daily evaluation that revolves around the team begin prepared for the start of the regular season. Just 47 days separated the opening of training camp from the season opener and Haley held most of the team’s front-line players out of action until the second game of the preseason.

“We’re winding down and every day to me was just as important as the next when you have that amount of time to really be ready to go,” Haley said. “So that’s kind of how we structured things and yeah, I’d like to go make sure we’re making improvements

“I feel like we’ve made improvements all the way through the training and the preseason and now I feel like we need to do that again (in Green Bay) and I think if we feel like we’ve made progress (there), then I’ll feel good.”

Judgment day is now less than two weeks away and the success or failure of training camp will ultimately be judged on September 11th vs. Buffalo, along with the three other games that form the first quarter of Kansas City’s 2011 season.

The primary focus of the preseason isn’t about wins and losses, but rather the ability to prepare both mentally and physically for the task of playing a 16-game NFL schedule. However, measuring the level of that preparation is a far more difficult assignment.   

“It’s tough for any team to tell,” RB Thomas Jones said. “The preseason is kind of strange because you have a mixture of newer guys that are trying to make the team and of veteran guys as core guys who are pretty much going to be on the team. Preseason is always a weird time.

“Some teams win every preseason game and then they won’t have a great season and then you have teams that don’t seem to do well in the preseason, but go on to have a good year. So, it’s hard to tell. The NFL is all about how you play on that day. So, I guess teams will know where they are when they open the regular season.”

The Chiefs have begun the preseason 0-3 for a third-straight year. Two of those seasons were reflective of Kansas City’s preseason showing and one turned out to be the complete opposite.

Thursday night’s game in Green Bay isn’t a must-win, but it’s certainly a game where the Chiefs must display progress. A final tune-up in one of the best preseason atmospheres should offer a good test.  

“This will be a good challenge for us, “Jones said. “This game is about an opportunity to go out and try to get better and to make progress before the Buffalo game. A lot of guys are excited about the opportunity to play in our final preseason game (at Lambeau Field) and we’re just looking to go out there and play the best that we can.”

“Personally, and team-wise I feel like I’ve learned a lot through these first three preseason games,” Johnson added. “Some people don’t like preseason games, but I like them. They get you ready for the season and for the things that you say – ‘man, we messed up on that’ – it’s not the season, so you have time to correct.”

Thursday night is the Chiefs final opportunity to learn from and correct those mistakes before the stakes are heightened.

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