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Transition year still hopeful for a playoff run

Kansas City Chiefs

A season that looked so promising two days before the opening of their Wisconsin training camp started turning ominous for the Chiefs within two days of their arrival. The celebrated news that impact CB Ty Law had joined the team in late July was quickly dampened on Day One by the unexpected retirement of 11-time Pro Bowl OLT Willie Roaf. Kansas City’s vaunted offensive line took another hit on Day Two when Pro Bowl OLG Brian Waters went down for the duration of camp with a foot sprain. And just when he came back, 11-time Pro Bowl ORG Will Shields went down with a high ankle sprain. It was, in short, a fill-in-the-holes preseason for new head coach Herm Edwards, who arrived in Kansas City thinking his main job would be to build a defense that might finally complement the league’s No. 1 offense of the past two seasons. But instead of thinking that Larry Johnson might rush for 2,000 yards in a full season after his 1,750-yard campaign in only nine starts in ’05, the Chiefs found themselves wondering instead if a slimmed-down Kyle Turley, now weighing only 275 pounds after two years of inactivity due to back problems, could protect Trent Green’s blind side at Roaf’s OLT spot, much less open holes for Johnson. The challenge of fixing a pass defense that improved from 32nd to a mere 29th last year suddenly had company, as the Chiefs scrambled to patch holes along the offensive line. Among them, the ORT position vacated by the retirement of John Welbourn. “I don’t want this team feeling that we have to score 24 points to win,” Edwards said before his line started springing leaks. “If it happens, that’s great. If you score in the 30s, that’s wonderful. But we’re going to have to learn to win some games 10-7.” Maybe now more than ever.

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