Chiefs continue work on defensive woes as season draws near

DAVE SKRETTA (AP Sports Writer)
The Associated Press

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Bob Sutton was asked this week to discuss what he liked and didn't like about the way the Kansas City Chiefs played against the Chicago Bears last week.

Their defensive coordinator didn't come up with a whole lot of positives.

The Chiefs gave up gobs of yards against the Bears' backup offense, watching their own ex-backup quarterback, Chase Daniel, move the ball at will. Their cornerbacks struggled, their pass rush was largely ineffective and their young prospects did little to instill confidence.

''Obviously,'' Sutton said, ''we didn't play as well as we wanted to.''

That alone is a fairly big indictment of the defense, considering Sutton has a habit of defending his players to the max. He's made from the same mold as Chiefs coach Andy Reid in that he'd rather take the blame for his team's poor performance than single out any individual.

Yet there reaches a point where the players on the field simply aren't getting it done.

''We didn't convert on third down, which was big in that game. We had some scrambles that got out that hurt us early in the game,'' Sutton said. ''Like most touchdown drives or scoring drives, you find a big play or penalty in the drive. That played true up in Chicago for us. To eliminate those are big for us. I would say the other aspect, I don't think we tackled as well as we would have liked.''

That pretty much runs the gamut of problems. And the reality is the Chiefs don't have a whole lot of time to make corrections. Their starters are unlikely to play much, if any, in their preseason finale against the Packers on Thursday night before turning their attention to their season opener.

By that point, the Chiefs could be trying to get some new guys up to speed.

They already signed cornerback Orlando Scandrick late in camp, and the compressed time frame that he had to get ready for the Bears was evident in his performance. But given the way their defense has performed so far, they could be scouring the waiver wire after roster cut-downs this weekend.

''The neat part about this game (Thursday) is everybody gets to get out there and play an extended time, and like we told them from Day 1, try to make the final evaluation as tough on (general manager) Brett Veach as you can,'' Reid said. ''There's going to be some competition there.''

If there's any reason for optimism the past couple of weeks, though, it's this: The Chiefs have yet to have their full complement of starters on the field at any time during the preseason.

Inside linebackers Anthony Hitchens and Reggie Ragland finally got to play against Chicago, but the Chiefs were still missing cornerback Steven Nelson and safety Eric Berry from the secondary.

Nelson was just cleared to return to practice Monday after dealing with a concussion, and Reid has said he expects Berry to be ready for the season after dealing with a bothersome heel.

Throw in defensive end Allen Baily's knee injury, and the loss of Daniel Sorensen for the start of the season because of a broken leg, and that's a hefty dose of missing pieces.

''We have enough time to do what we need to do. You need to drill down,'' Sutton said. ''There's a lot of things in there from a coaching perspective I don't think are too difficult.''

Reid said Tuesday that everyone will dress for the preseason finale, though he doesn't expect many of the regulars to play. He did say some of the younger players, such as rookie defensive end Breeland Speaks, would likely get onto the field in some capacity.

''How much? I can't tell you that,'' Reid said. ''Just have to play it by ear.''

NOTES: TE Travis Kelce missed practice Tuesday for personal reasons. He's expected to be at the game Thursday night. ... Backup TE Demetrius Harris will play against the Packers, then begin his one-game suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy. ''He's practiced with that group all week and made sure he got some reps,'' Reid said. ''He needs to get the work in before his break here.''

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