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Several things to consider as Week 17 begins

Posted Dec 26, 2011

Several Chiefs rookies, like DL Brandon Bair (pictured), enter Week 17 looking for their first NFL action

With playoff football no longer a possibility, it’s time for the Kansas City Chiefs to start thinking about the future.

Week 17 brings several things to consider regarding the immediate future of the team.

Leading off the Chiefs checklist, of course, is the future of (interim) head coach Romeo Crennel.

Kansas City is operating in a position of strength when it comes to finding a new head football coach. The job is an attractive one. It might be the most attractive job currently on the market.

The Chiefs aren’t your typical team swimming circles through coaching uncertainty. The roster is in need of upgrades at several positions, but the Chiefs aren’t a team that needs a new head coach to hit the reset button.

Kansas City has come a long way since it last changed head coaches following the 2008 season. The Chiefs had won just 10 games in three seasons and were in need of a complete overhaul.

In 2012, the Chiefs won’t need an overhaul. They’ll need a tune-up.

If the right head coach mixes successfully with the rehabilitation of injured players and effective offseason roster construction, Kansas City could enter next season as the AFC West favorite.

The Chiefs head coaching job is an attractive one that should draw significant interest from external candidates. In house, there is an experienced candidate in Crennel who has already won over the locker room.

It’s a situation that gives Kansas City’s front office some intriguing possibilities.

This next week is an important one for Crennel. With bowl games, beach plans and other post-season factors entering the minds of NFL locker rooms eliminated from postseason play, Crennel must keep the Chiefs focused for one more week.

Kansas City has nothing to play for other than pride and professionalism, and perhaps their next head coach. They’ll be squaring off against a Denver team whose playoffs begin in this Sunday’s game.

Up next is roster construction.

The impending free agency of Brandon Carr, Dwayne Bowe and Kyle Orton is sure to make plenty of headlines over the next two months, but the Chiefs won’t be pressed to make immediate decisions on those players this week.

But that doesn’t mean there won’t be decisions involving some form of free agency over the next several days.

Protecting practice squad players who may have a future with the franchise is something Kansas City’s front office must consider this week.

All 256 practice squad players in the NFL are treated as free agents and are available to be signed by another team at any time. Reshard Langford (2009), Wallace Gilberry (2008) and Andy Studebaker (2008) each arrived in Kansas City following an in-season raid of opponent practice squads.

Kansas City has protected at least one practice squad player via Week 17 promotion each year under GM Scott Pioli.

For teams out of contention, Week 17 roster space is often cleared by placing injured players on injured reserve (IR). Jon McGraw would be the team’s leading candidate for IR having missed the past two games with a high ankle sprain.

Kansas City’s practice squad currently consists of the following players (career games played in parenthesis):

OL Rob Bruggeman (2)

LB Caleb Campbell (3)

RB Shaun Draughn (0)

G Darryl Harris (1)

DB Quinten Lawrence (6)

WR Jamar Newsome (2)

OL Lucas Patterson (0)

DT Anthony Toribio (6)

Finally, the Chiefs may re-adjust their approach to play-time and gameday inactives now that playoffs aren’t a possibility.

Several “redshirts” on Kansas City’s roster might benefit from getting their first game-action this weekend in Denver.

Rookies Ricky Stanzi, Brandon Bair and David Mims are the only players on Kansas City’s 53-man roster yet to see their first NFL snap.

Bair has been a healthy inactive for all 15 games this season and Mims has been a healthy scratch each of the four games since his promotion from the practice squad November 29th. Stanzi has jumped Tyler Palko as the team’s No. 2 quarterback, but has yet to see any game action.

Rookie Jerrell Powe is another candidate for Week 17 play-time, having been active just once this season. Powe saw seven snaps against the Patriots when Amon Gordon shifted outside for an injured Glenn Dorsey at defensive end.

Gordon and Kelly Gregg, both veterans, have been playing ahead of Powe at nose tackle throughout the season.

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