Chiefs DC Steve Spagnuolo impressed by defensive ‘unit play’ in preseason

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The preseason finale for the Kansas City Chiefs takes place this Friday at Arrowhead Stadium. After the final snaps of the preseason, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo will join the rest of the coaching and front office staff to deliberate on 53-man roster cuts.

A position group that has plenty of options but not necessarily a lot of roster space is the defensive line. One player who has secured a roster spot with improved play in his second year is former fifth-round draft pick Mike Danna.

”Listen, I’ve talked about Mike [Danna] a lot,” said Spagnuolo. “I mean, you guys know how I feel about him, his intelligence, his natural ability. I think what coach [Brendan] Daly and Terry Bradden do with them is outstanding. You’re talking about a guy that went to Central Michigan, that went to Michigan for a year. If he can keep doing that, he’s going to help us.”

Both in training camp and the preseason, Danna continues to trend upward in his development. The defensive line did lose a player during recent cuts with defensive end Taco Charlton. A rotational piece from a year ago, Charlton’s release shows just how competitive the position has become for Kansas City.

While the defensive line has flashed this preseason for the Chiefs, posting 10 sacks in just two games, Spagnuolo sees it as a symptom of the defense playing together as a whole. He credits the unit performances just as much as he does the individual performances for creating that success.

”I’m not trying to avoid the question, but this is what I said to the guys whatever two days ago,” said Spagnuolo. “What I was impressed most with was the unit play, and what I meant by that was I saw 11 guys for how many ever plays that was, playing together. To me, that’s how you can be an effective defense. So, even though it showed up as sacks, there was probably something good being done on the back end. I thought guys were actually pretty mentally in tune; the mindset was right for a second preseason game, on an away game, the travel, the whole thing. So, I think the whole unit, I just hope that continues because if we play good unit defensive football, we can be pretty good, in my opinion.”

Friday night’s matchup with the Minnesota Vikings will go a long way toward revealing the future of Spagnuolo’s defensive unit.

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