Chiefs overhaul roster
Monday, September 2, 2013
KANSAS CITY — General manager John Dorsey huddled with the rest of the Kansas City Chiefs’ personnel department long into the night, evaluating just about every player that had been waived by rival teams.
Hundreds of them had just reached the market, and by having the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft, the Chiefs had the priority in claiming any of them. So it was up to Dorsey and his trusted lieutenants to evaluate each of them in mere hours, and then snag the ones they wanted for the roster.
The result was seven new players joining the Chiefs on Monday, all trying frantically to get up to speed even as the rest of the team prepared for their season opener Sunday at Jacksonville.
“The first year,” Dorsey said, “sometimes this is what you have to do to move forward.”
Indeed, Dorsey and new coach Andy Reid have led a nearly unprecedented overhaul of the roster. Of the 53 players who reported to practice, 30 of them weren’t a part of the 2-14 debacle that landed the Chiefs the top pick in the draft — and the luxury of waiver-wire priority.
That includes all three quarterbacks and all the tight ends. Just three of the 10 defensive backs and two of their six wide receivers were also on the roster last season.
As for linebacker, well, making the Pro Bowl turned into a prerequisite. Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson and Justin Houston each earned a trip to Hawaii last year, and they’re the only ones among the nine linebackers who are back with Kansas City this season.
“From the beginning, in January, we said we would turn over every stone possible,” Dorsey said, “and the positive is by being the first pick in the draft, we have the first pick in the waiver claims. It’s a very unique situation. Hopefully it will never happen again.”
The churning of the bottom part of the Chiefs’ roster began Saturday, when they waived 22 players to reach the NFL’s 53-man limit. Trading linebacker Edgar Jones to the Cowboys for a draft pick later Saturday opened up another roster spot.
Once that purging was complete, Dorsey had an idea of what players had become available.
He said during an interview Monday his staff worked until about 2 a.m. Sunday before taking a break to catch a couple hours’ sleep. They reconvened at 6 a.m. and kept evaluating video, knowing full well they would get whomever they claimed by virtue of their spot in the pecking order.
The Chiefs wound up with seven players — tied with Jacksonville for the most waiver claims — who boarded planes to Kansas City. All but three claimed from Seattle made it in time to practice Monday, while those three were still undergoing physicals when the rest of the team hit the field.
“The learning curve is going to have to be fast,” wide receiver Dexter McCluster said. “They didn’t go through the things that we’ve been going through, obviously the training camp. I think the team chemistry that we do have will help in bringing those guys in and showing them how it’s done.”
Most of the newcomers have some connection to players already on the team.
Defensive back Marcus Cooper and wide receiver Chad Hall, waived by the 49ers, had been worked with wide receiver A.J. Jenkins, whom the Chiefs acquired in a trade a couple weeks ago. Then there’s linebacker Dezman Moses, waived by the Packers, who spent last season playing alongside Frank Zombo, who was signed as a free agent and managed to survive the roster cuts.
“I’d like to say I learn things pretty fast,” Moses said. “I will definitely dive in and be as prepared as possible for Sunday, trying to get things rolling wherever they need me.”
Dorsey said he’s “very satisfied” with the makeup of the Chiefs’ roster heading into Week 1, but he also didn’t sound like someone who is content with 30 new faces on the team.
“I’m sure that’s a big number,” he acknowledged, “but I don’t think we should make an emphasis on the number. I think we should make an emphasis on the fact that, you know what? All along we had a plan, and part of that plan was to utilize the waiver wire here at the end as well.”
Notes: OG Jon Asamoah (strained right calf), LB Nico Johnson (right high ankle sprain) and S Sanders Commings (broken left collarbone) did not practice. McCluster was a full participant after missing the Chiefs’ final preseason game with an illness.
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