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Green Bay Take Five

Posted Sep 1, 2011

Five things to watch as the Chiefs close out the preseason at Lambeau Field

GREEN BAY, WI – The final preseason contest of 2011 brings the Chiefs back to Lambeau Field for the first time since the infamous 989 pump – Trent Green to Eddie Kennison.

Green will be in the booth for tonight’s preseason finale, alongside play-by-play voice Mike Kelly, and it’d be a shame if he doesn’t recap one of the greatest Chiefs moments from the past decade during the broadcast.

This is it. The final tune-up before Saturday’s cut-down to 53 players. Let’s Take Five.

Green Bay Take Five

1)      Pound The Rock

Through three preseason games, the Chiefs have managed just three rushes of more than 10 yards. Thomas Jones broke free for a 17-yard run against Tampa Bay, Dexter McCluster took 13 yards at Baltimore and Jackie Battle rumbled for a 12-yard gain against St. Louis.

It’s been a slow preseason start for a team whose offensive identity revolves around running the football. Of course, the Chiefs have also taken great measure in protecting their primary ball carriers during exhibition play.

Jamaal Charles is averaging just 2.7 yards per carry, but has rushed the football only six times. Jones owns nine carries and McCluster boasts just seven rushing attempts. New addition Le’Ron McClain has carried the football twice.

Those four players are projected to handle the brunt of the rushing load in 2011, but have combined to log just 33.8% (24 combined carries) of the Chiefs preseason rushing workload. Meanwhile, Jackie Battle – a short-yardage back and special teams player over the past few years – has been the workhorse of the backfield with a whopping 34 preseason carries.

 It’s clear the Chiefs are protecting their primary runners, but it would still be nice to see the rushing game take a solid preseason finale into the regular season opener.

2)      1s vs. 2s?

Green Bay kicks off the NFL’s regular season one week from tonight with a nationally televised matchup vs.  New Orleans. It’s a shorter week for the Packers and Chiefs first-teamers may end up getting in most of their work against Green Bay reserves.

Last year, a healthy Aaron Rodgers didn’t even make the trip to Kansas City for Green Bay’s final preseason game and head coach Mike McCarthy rested a load of other starters including Charles Woodson, Ryan Grant and Clay Matthews.

The Chiefs, meanwhile, plan to play their core players at Lambeau Field. It will be interesting to see who lines up across from Kansas City’s starters.

 

3)      Red Zone Work

The Chiefs offense has struggled mightily in the red zone this preseason. Twice the first-team offense has received turnovers in the opponents’ red zone and twice the Chiefs have come up with field goals.

In those two series, Kansas City has gained just one yard on six red zone snaps.

Those issues trickled down to the third-team unit late in the fourth quarter last week vs. St. Louis. Down four points with less than four minutes to play, the Chiefs had the football with a first-and-goal from the St. Louis three-yard line. After three snaps yielded no yards, the field goal unit ran onto the field. To add an exclamation point, the Rams blocked Ryan Succop’s chip-shot attempt.

When the Chiefs are inside the 20, the offense needs to punch it in the end zone.

4)      A Clicking Cassel

Thus far, Chiefs Pro Bowl QB Matt Cassel has yet to click with his receivers in preseason play. Cassel has completed less than 50% of his passing attempts and owns a 59.5 passer rating this preseason. The good news is that he’s taken care of the football and hasn’t pressed throws into double coverage.

Cassel didn’t’ light up the exhibition stat book in 2009 or 2010 either and his timing with receivers hasn’t been concerning in preseason practices. Like the running game, it would just be nice to see him close out the preseason on a positive note.

5)      Green Bay’s Cuts

Whose bubble will take flight and whose will burst?

Tonight is the final opportunity for a number of players to impress as rosters are cut almost in half Saturday afternoon. While I’ll be watching to see which Chiefs respond, I’ll also be watching for standouts in Green Bay’s reserve ranks.

Green Bay’s trash will become another team’s treasure. Among the deepest teams in football, the Packers won Super Bowl XLV despite suffering 16 season-ending injuries last season. When cuts are announced Saturday afternoon, a handful of waiver claims are likely to be placed on some of Green Bay’s roster casualties.

Last year, to provide depth at a thin position, the Chiefs claimed NT Anthony Toribio off waivers after the nose tackle was squeezed out of a roster spot in Green Bay behind Ryan Pickett and B.J. Raji.

Is there another future Chief who’ll line up across from Kansas City tonight?

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