It happens every year. For whatever reason, some players drop out of sight only to come back and make an impact the next season. Some are coming back from injury, while others were simply buried in the depth chart or on the practice squad.
These Chiefs didn’t see much action in 2010, but were in the middle of storylines and/or position battles less than a year ago. Could one of them re-emerge to play a contributing role in 2011?
BRAD COTTAM, Tight End
Remember When: We were debating whether or not Cottam would be ready for training camp?
The long road back continues for Cottam. Selected just three slots behind
Still, it’s too early to count out Cottam’s ability to recover. He’s currently a restricted free agent and, if tendered, could make the battle for reserve roles at the tight end position worth watching.
DARRYL HARRIS, Guard
Remember When: Harris ran with the first-team offense while
After spending most of his rookie season on the practice squad, Harris looked like a prime candidate to break into the 53-man roster when he filled in for an injured Brian Waters at the beginning of last year’s training camp. Harris would rep as the first-team left guard for a significant amount of time, but suffered a knee injury in August that wiped out his early progress.
He’d end up spending all of 2010 on Kansas City’s practice squad.
On the surface, it looks as if Harris faces an uphill battle for a roster spot with Waters,
JEREMY HORNE, Wide Receiver
Remember When: Horne was the talk of last year’s training camp?
A speedster that can stretch the field vertically, Horne beat the odds and made Kansas City’s Opening Day roster. He’d stay active before suffering a minor foot injury and flip-flopping places with
Tucker made an immediate impact on special teams and went on to start two games at wide receiver, while Horne continued to develop his craft in practice. Horne had enough talent to make the 53-man roster last season and has enough talent to compete for a place on this year’s squad as well.
RESHARD LANGFORD, Safety
Remember When: Langford rotated in and out of the first-team defense last off-season?
Langford began 2010 in a similar role, but an ankle injury derailed his season. Though he never landed on injured reserve, the heavy-hitter would play in just six games last year.
Langford enters his third NFL season (second year in terms of accrued years) with a chance to show why the Chiefs plucked him off Philadelphia’s practice squad during the final weeks of the 2009 campaign. Depending on whether or not the Chiefs decide to re-ink veteran
RUDY NISWANGER, Center
Remember When: Niswanger and
Niswanger’s career with the Chiefs has been somewhat bizarre. He joined the Chiefs undrafted and spent two years (2006-07) as the heir-apparent to longtime starter Casey Wiegmann. When Wiegmann left for Denver in 2008, Niswanger went on to open 31 games at center over the next two seasons.
Then, at age 36, Wiegmann signed a one-year deal to return to Kansas City last spring. The two would split first-team reps before Niswanger ultimately lost the training camp battle and was once again delegated to a reserve role in 2010.
Currently, Niswanger’s place on the 2011 Chiefs is anything but certain. He’s a restricted free agent and the team spent a second-round pick on G/C Rodney Hudson. Still, it wouldn’t be a shock to see Niswanger back in Kansas City competing for time along the interior offensive line.
Wiegmann’s future is up in the air and Niswanger offers the versatility, smarts and experience that many teams find appealing when building depth on the offensive line.
CAMERON SHEFFIELD, Outside Linebacker
Remember When: Sheffield was getting more and more looks last preseason?
The second of Kansas City’s two fifth-round picks in 2010, Sheffield was the only draft pick from last year’s class that didn’t see the playing field as a rookie. He was lost for the season with a neck injury suffered against Philadelphia during the preseason.
At the time of his injury, Sheffield looked like a shoe-in to make the Chiefs 53-man roster. He was playing at a high level on multiple special teams units and getting looks in defensive sub-packages as well.
At the end of the postseason, Sheffield declared himself ready to return to action. Unfortunately, the lockout has prevented us from getting any official word from the Chiefs medical staff.
There’s increased competition at outside linebacker, but if Sheffield is anywhere near the same player as he was before the injury, he’ll have a chance to be a factor.
ANTHONY TORIBIO, Defensive Tackle
Remember When: The Chiefs claimed Toribio off waivers to bolster the defensive line?
Toribio played just 65 defensive snaps last season, all in a reserve role behind starter
JERHEME URBAN, Wide Receiver
Remember When: Urban looked like a sure contributor at wide receiver?
How much did the Chiefs miss Urban last season?
In a year where the Chiefs struggled to find a consistent receiving target opposite
DEMORRIO WILLIAMS, Linebacker
Remember When: Johnson vs. Williams was the position battle of all position battles?
A regular starter for the Falcons and Chiefs since 2005, Williams played less than 150 defensive snaps last season - mostly due to
Though he finished with just 10 tackles, one year after leading the Chiefs with 142 stops, Williams was never far from seeing game-action. He lost a tight training camp battle with Johnson for a starting spot and continually pushed to regain that job. Williams’ competitiveness is one of the reasons that Johnson enjoyed his most productive season as a pro.
Expect Williams to continue to push for playing time and perform his role on special teams at a high level. It’s likely that he’ll never be far from the starting lineup.