Training camp goals
1. Install and understand the offense. New coordinator Brian Daboll brings the offensive scheme he directed in Miami last year and in Cleveland the season before that one. It's designed around the running game, but Daboll has said he'll use the parts he has been given. That will likely mean a healthy dose of two-tight end alignments with Tony Moeaki and Kevin Boss; both are solid blockers and have good hands. If everyone is healthy, Daboll will have a speed (Jamaal Charles) and power (Peyton Hillis) run game available to him. The key will be the development of the line, where there will be two new starters – second-year center Rodney Hudson and veteran right tackle Eric Winston. The passing game was hurt by the absence offseason absence of franchise WR Dwayne Bowe.
2. Beware injury relapses. There are four starters that will be returning to work at training camp: Moeaki, Charles, strong safety Eric Berry and free safety Kendrick Lewis. The first three all tore the ACL in their left knees, while Lewis had shoulder surgery. Whether all four will be cleared to take part in the first practice is doubtful and it's unknown how long it will take before they are allowed to participate fully in the workouts. All four players said their rehab was going well; Charles said he was faster than before the injury.
Player to watch
Running back Jamaal Charles. When he went down with a torn ACL in his left knee during Week 2, it took the spark out of the offense. Charles had displayed in the previous 24 games that he was one of the NFL's most dynamic and productive backs, averaging right at 5 yards per carry. Not many teams have a back that produces at this level and the Chiefs didn't come close to replacing Charles with a worn Thomas Jones, journeyman Jackie Battle and the diminutive Dexter McCluster. Without a home-run threat in the run game, the Chiefs became singles hitters.
On the hot seat
Quarterback Matt Cassel. If the Chiefs' starting quarterback didn't realize how he was viewed by the Kansas City fans, he found out at a celebrity softball game during the MLB's All-Star festivities. The hometown crowd booed Cassel when he was introduced. After this season, he has just two years left on that six-year $63 million deal he got in 2009. He has been inconsistent in his play, looking like the Pro Bowl quarterback that he was in 2010, then struggling in difficult circumstances in 2011 before a hand injury ended his season after nine games. Cassel has more offensive tools than in previous years and needs to lift his game to another level.
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