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 Chiefs trying to have a more physical presence

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Giver of Life
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PostSubject: Chiefs trying to have a more physical presence    Wed Aug 17, 2011 12:50 am

Chiefs trying to have a more physical presence
The Kansas City Star

S T. JOSEPH | The Chiefs were running the ball in a goal-line situation
during a recent practice when fullback Le’Ron McClain, blocking for
Jamaal Charles, slipped through the line and drilled a linebacker to
keep him from the runner’s path.

“That’s the goal,” McClain explained later. “That’s what I’m trying to
do every time. Throw that first blow. That tells the guy I’m coming back
every play, every play, every play. By the fourth quarter, he’ll be
ducking and dodging and not wanting to take me on.

“If we get that mentality from our 11 guys, we’ll do fine.”

The Chiefs often lacked that approach last season. They couldn’t
accurately be called a finesse team, not when they led the league in

But when things got rough and physical, the Chiefs didn’t always fight
back. In their final two games, including the playoff loss to Baltimore,
the Chiefs were overwhelmed by bigger, stronger opponents.

So it’s no coincidence the Chiefs signed three free agents, all physical
players, away from the Ravens and promoted guard Jon Asamoah, who often
plays with a nasty edge, to the starting lineup.

It’s all aimed at helping the Chiefs win more of these football versions of a street fight.

“Our mind-set going into that game was just to be dominant,” said
McClain, one of those additions from Baltimore. “That was our thing.
That’s what I’m trying to bring over here, that physical mentality every
play, pass plays or running plays.”

One sign the Chiefs lacked physical strength, at least on offense, was
their inability to convert in short-yardage situations. The Chiefs ran
the ball 14 times on third and 1 last season and converted just six
times, the second worst percentage in the league.

The Chiefs also didn’t always stand up on defense to powerful opponents.
New quarterbacks coach Jim Zorn, who last year worked for Baltimore,
recalled what concerned the Ravens last year as they prepared to face
Kansas City’s defense.

“We had to be concerned about some of their great athletes, concerned
with Tamba (Hali), with (Eric) Berry, with (Tyson) Jackson,” Zorn said.

That’s code for: The Ravens didn’t fear the Chiefs beating them up.

“Were we a little more physical? I don’t know,” Zorn continued, still
taking the diplomatic approach. “We probably had a bigger team. We might
have had some bigger defensive linemen.”

Zorn was part of the staff that coached McClain and the other Baltimore
additions, offensive tackle Jared Gaither and nose tackle Kelly Gregg.

“They’ll all help us with that physical presence,” Zorn said.

The 260-pound McClain should help the Chiefs increase their
third-and-short conversion percentage, either as a blocker or the
occasional ball carrier.

“He is a violent player,” Zorn said. “He understands what a fullback is. He knows he’s got to be hardcore, hard-nosed.”

The Chiefs are counting on Gregg, the only new acquisition in the
defensive starting lineup, to instill his brand of toughness on that
side of the ball.

“It’s still a process as far as us developing the mind-set and the
attitude as far as being physical and being aggressive,” defensive line
coach Anthony Pleasant said. “We keep emphasizing that being physical
and being tough up front is the only way we can play this game. I’m
hammering it to them all the time. I think they’re beginning to see the
picture of what I want them to do.”

Back on offense, the Chiefs lacked a true blocking fullback last season.
They at times turned to 300-pound defensive lineman Shaun Smith to lead
the way in goal-line and short-yardage situations, often

The Chiefs were small at center with Casey Wiegmann and right guard with
Ryan Lilja. Both are again starters, but they now have Asamoah in the
middle of their line as well.

“He fits in well with what we’re trying to do on offense, which is run
the ball,” Gregg said. “He’s a big guy and he’s going to lean on

At 305 pounds, Asamoah isn’t oversized. But he plays with an edge and an attitude the Chiefs wanted in their lineup every down.

Before the start of training camp, they released Brian Waters to make room for Asamoah.

“That’s what kind of player I feel like I am more than anything,”
Asamoah said. “I’m physical and I’ll get after people. I don’t do a lot
of dancing around. It’s all about contact.”

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