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Filling Holes

More by Ed Fulda
Other writers' articles
The Chiefs had several holes to fill going into the "off season." On defense, the team needed help at Defensive End, Cornerback, and Linebacker. The offense needed improved depth on the line and a quality back up to Priest Holmes. The special teams needed a new punter and some young headhunters for kick coverage. Now that the draft is over and free agents have been signed, it's time to assess the job Dick Vermeil and Carl Peterson have done to improve the team.

Vonnie Holliday was a nice addition at Defensive End and is certainly an improvement over Duane Clemons. He's a solid player against the run and gets a few sacks. However, he is not a player who can consistently bring the heat on opposing passers and that is an area the team is weak. The Chiefs will need Eddie Freeman and/or R-Kal Truluck to step up and provide rush help.

Linebacker help came with the addition of Shawn Barber and Kawika Mitchell. Mike Maslowski will now be moved to the middle where he will be much more effective. Unless Scott Fujita succumbs to the sophomore jinx, the Chiefs appear set.

Help also came at cornerback with the free agent signing of Dexter McCleon and the drafting of Julian Battle. Given how poorly last year's starters, Eric Warfield and William Bartee, played, it is debatable whether enough reinforcements have arrived. If nothing else, however, there should be noticeable improvement in the nickel and dime packages.

First round draft choice Larry Johnson will be a huge improvement over Mike Cloud as a back up to Priest Holmes. Heck, Johnson could have two broken legs, be in a body cast, and STILL be an improvement over Cloud. Seriously, Johnson is a talented runner, appears to have pass-catching skills, and plays well on special teams.

For the offensive line, rookies Brett Williams and Julian Black should be welcome additions. Both are capable of playing guard and right tackle. The only weakness left is an adequate back up for OLT William Roaf. However, both John Tait and Will Shields can shift over and play OLT if necessary.

Some veteran help also arrived for the special teams. WR Dameane Douglas is an excellent kick coverage guy as is CB Darrius Johnson. Rookie RB Larry Johnson is an accomplished kick returner and blocked several punts during his college career.

What is still missing is a punter to replace Dan Stryzinski. Despite what some other writers at wildbillschiefs.com think, CFL refugee Noel Prefontaine is probably not the answer. He had a reputation in college of being a very erratic kicker and one has to wonder if he has outgrown that tendency. A safer bet would be signing a veteran punter like Craig Hentrich (who, by the way, is also an accomplished kick-off man). Unfortunately, Hentrich wants to re-sign with the Tennessee Oilers. If he does, the Chiefs may have to wait for the June cuts to find a proven veteran.

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