Chiefs center Ryan Lilja, a product of Shawnee Mission Northwest and Kansas State, understands the frustrations of the fans during the Chiefs’ 1-3 start.
By RANDY COVITZ
The Kansas City Star
“Believe me, we want it as bad or more than they do,” Lilja said Thursday. “Getting beat and getting beat at home and getting beat the way we’ve been getting beat … a division opponent like (San Diego), it hurts. We want to fix it more than anyone. All we can do is work our rears off and try to get better. There’s no magic formula. You’ve got to eliminate the wrong things, do the right things if you want a chance to win a game.”
The Chiefs’ biggest emphasis this week was taking care of the ball. They have turned the ball over 15 times this season and are a league-worst minus-13 in turnover differential.
“The turnover statistic in the NFL is the most compelling thing,” Lilja said, “and every coach I’ve ever had has talked about it. But it’s not just the guy with the ball or the guy throwing the ball. Everyone has their hand in that … if it’s an offensive lineman working on protection … if you’re a running back, Ed Reed is going to try to strip you … they’re going to try to sack/strip Matt (Cassel) … we’ve got to do a better job.”
Flowers practices, Johnson sits
The Chiefs said cornerback Brandon Flowers fully participated in practice Thursday, a day after missing all of practice because of a recurrence of a heel injury. But inside linebacker Derrick Johnson missed his second day of practice because of a groin injury.
Flowers, who missed a month of training camp, including all four preseason games plus the regular-season opener, because of a mysterious heel injury, aggravated it during Sunday’s loss to San Diego and missed a couple of series.
“He got treatment on Monday and Tuesday, and it was sore (Wednesday),” Crennel said. “He started off (practicing) and begin to feel worse, so we took him off and let him rehab.”
Backup cornerback Jalil Brown (hamstring) also missed practice, leaving cornerback/safety Travis Daniels to step into Flowers’ spot.
“Travis has to do some double duty,” Crennel said.
The Chiefs also said running back Peyton Hillis (ankle), wide receiver Devon Wylie (hamstring) and defensive ends Glenn Dorsey (calf) and Ropati Pitoitua (elbow) did not practice. Lilja (back) and wide receiver Jon Baldwin (hamstring) returned to full practice.
Safety Kendrick Lewis, who has been sidelined all season because of a shoulder injury, was not at the facility because of a personal situation.
Besides turning the ball over 15 times, the Chiefs have just two takeaways this season — interceptions by Sanford Routt and Brandon Flowers. They can cut into that minus-13 by forcing some fumbles and intercepting some passes.
“That’s like the name of the game, you’ve got to take the ball away,” Routt said, “and that’s one thing we’ve got to do a better job of for the rest of the season. It’s definitely not just on the offense. When you look at the teams in this league that have the best records … all the teams that are winning are probably in the plus-margin in turnovers, so we definitely have to get the ball out.”
Playing perfect football
Offensive tackle Eric Winston said the Chiefs’ biggest problem during their poor start is players are trying to make plays that aren’t there.
“We’re trying to be so good, we’re trying to win the game on every play, and sometime we can’t,” Winston said. “Whether you’re a running back, whether you’re a lineman trying to take more guys than you can … whatever you’re doing, you have to do your job, and sometimes your job is ... getting out of bounds ... throwing it away … sometimes punting the ball is not bad. The one thing we have to understand is let’s let (Dustin) Colquitt boom one down the field, and back them up a little bit.
“Everybody is trying to do so much. It’s not a lack of effort around here. It’s not a matter of guys not doing enough. We’ve got plenty of that. Now it’s a matter of guys doing the right stuff.”
The Chiefs have lost both their home games by a combined 77-44 and have lost eight of their last 11 at Arrowhead Stadium. But Baltimore’s six-time Pro Bowl center Matt Birk remembers how loud the stadium was during the Ravens’ 30-7 playoff victory over the Chiefs in the 2010 playoffs.
“Obviously, I am pretty close to Joe (Flacco) before the snap, and I could hardly hear him,” Birk told Baltimore reporters. “You just feel the vibration of the voice, that’s how loud it is. But, you know going in that’s what it’s going to be and that’s a challenge that we’ll have to overcome.
“It’s not the most recently architecturally engineered stadium out there, but it’s loud. It limits your communication, but that’s the home-field advantage. That’s really what it is. It limits the offense’s ability to communicate and to communicate quickly. It will be a great challenge for us, but, like we are every week, we are looking forward to it.”
Jones knows the Ravens
Linebacker Edgar Jones spent five seasons with the Ravens, mostly as a special teams player before joining the Chiefs this season, and he knows the mentality of Baltimore’s rugged defense.
“It was a great experience playing with guys like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed,” Jones said of the future Hall of Fame linebacker and safety. “More than anything, they taught you about learning the game. Not so much about football on the field, but watching film, studying your opponent, and that’s the thing that keeps them around.”
To reach Randy Covitz, call 816-234-4796 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/randycovitz.