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DJ/Demorrio Pairing "Unlikely"

Posted Aug 10, 2010

Moving either Derrick Johnson or Demorrio Williams from weak-side ILB to strong-side ILB isn't likely to happen

As the Chiefs training camp battle at inside linebacker wages forward, something noteworthy seems to pop up every few days. Such was the case once again on Tuesday afternoon when head coach Todd Haley offered a glimpse into personnel pairings going forward.

Throughout OTAs and mini-camp, the Chiefs often paired Demorrio Williams with Corey Mays in one group and Derrick Johnson with Jovan Belcher in another. Only recently did the two pairings mix for significant snaps when a Mays/ Johnson and Belcher/Williams combination took shape at the end of last week.

One pairing that we haven’t seen and aren’t likely to see, however, is a lineup consisting of Williams and Johnson paired together.

“I would say that would be more unlikely for that scenario to happen,” Haley said.

The reason is relatively simple, but the potential pairing is one that many fans have wondered about.

Both Johnson and Williams play the same position (weak-side inside backer) and there is a big difference between that position and the position that Mays and Belcher play (strong-side inside backer). On the strong-side, the Chiefs want players built for thumping.

Relative to Kansas City’s current personnel, the make-up of a “Thumper” isn’t as much mental as it is physical.

“That inside strong linebacker is taking on big bodies much of the time and has to be much more of a downhill player,” Haley explained. “(Derrick and Demorrio) are not the image that you, as a coach, have in your head as an inside strong-side backer in the 3-4. It’s no issue with them; it’s that you need a little bigger body to hold up to the pounding.”

Going strictly off of height and weight, an argument could be made for Johnson to post-up on the strong side. Johnson is the second-heaviest member of the quartet, trailing Mays by only three pounds and weighting in nearly 20 more pounds than Belcher (at least according to the official weight chart distributed by the team).

But football teams aren’t made up on paper.  For anyone who has seen these players up close, there is a drastic difference in the body type of a Jovan Belcher vs. a Derrick Johnson.

“I don’t know about you guys, but when I look at (Jovan) I see a much different body, physically, in a lot of different ways than Derrick or Domorrio,” Haley said. “I can’t say that Derrick or Demorrio couldn’t do it, but there has to be something different for you to be able (to move to the strong side) and hold up for a period of time.”

Haley went on to explain that it’s more common for strong-side players to change over to the weak-side than it is for weak-side players to transfer to the strength. As the preseason continues, we’ll likely see more mixing and matching within the Chiefs inside linebackers, but a pairing of Johnson and Williams likely won’t be one of them.

 “This is one of the better battles in camp, in my opinion,” Haley said. “I just like the way that it’s going right now, because I think that both (Derrick and Demorrio) have a chance to be real good football players and that’s good for the Kansas City Chiefs."

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