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Chiefs trying to regain balance on offense

Updated: 2013-09-08T15:45:19Z

By RANDY COVITZ

The Kansas City Star

With one preseason game to go, the Chiefs are still looking for some offensive balance.

They threw the ball efficiently in Saturday night’s 26-20 overtime win at Pittsburgh, but the running game disappeared.

Quarterbacks Alex Smith and Chase Daniel combined to throw for 310 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and a 96.7 passer rating.

But they also were the Chiefs’ two leading rushers — Daniel scrambled five times for 45 yards, and Smith once for 38 yards, the team’s biggest offensive play in three preseason games.

Take away the quarterbacks’ 83 rushing yards, and the Chiefs managed just 33 yards in 18 carries, or 1.83 yards per carry. Running back Jamaal Charles, in his first game back after missing the San Francisco game because of a foot strain, carried seven times for 10 yards.

“Certain teams you’re going to be able to do both (run and pass) against,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “Some teams you’re going to be able to do the pass game, certain teams you’ll be able to do the run game.”

Despite the imbalance in the offense, Reid was pleased with the performance of the offensive line, which lost right guard Jon Asamoah because of a calf injury early in the game. That pressed veteran backup Geoff Schwartz into double duty.

Schwartz played right guard with the starters in the first half and right tackle with the reserves in the second half. He participated in 71 of the Chiefs’ 77 offensive snaps.

“I thought overall the offensive line did a nice job, from the first and the second group of protecting … and played good physical football,” Reid said. “Geoff played well in those positions. It was good to get (backup left tackle) Donald Stephenson back in there. I thought he did a nice job, too. I appreciated their effort, and I thought they improved.”

Rookie right tackle Eric Fisher, the club’s first-round draft pick, also bounced back after struggling against the 49ers. Fisher, lined up most of the time against Pittsburgh veteran outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley, kept Woodley away from Smith and held him to two tackles.

“I’ve been happy with his progress,” Reid said of Fisher. “He’s been banged up a little bit with the hand and shoulder, so he’s worked through that. … Other guys wouldn’t be able to push themselves through that mentally, and he’s done that, and continued to get better at the same time.

“He came out good against what I consider a good defensive front and played very well.”

Reid said Asamoah and rookie linebacker Nico Johnson, who suffered an ankle sprain, won’t practice today, which makes their availability questionable for Thursday’s final preseason game against Green Bay.

Also oft-injured tight end Tony Moeaki suffered a shoulder injury, backup cornerback Jalil Brown suffered a knee contusion, and wide receiver Dexter McCluster is still battling the effects of an illness. Their statuses will be re-evaluated today, as well as that of rookie tight end Travis Kelce, who missed the Pittsburgh game because of a knee bruise.

Reid also said newly acquired wide receiver A.J. Jenkins, who participated in 19 plays Saturday night at Pittsburgh, is picking up the offense quickly. Jenkins, who was acquired last week in a trade with San Francisco for Jon Baldwin, was targeted once without a catch, but still made a contribution.

“Jenkins picked up more than I thought he knew,” Reid said. “You don’t want to put a kid in a bad position by sticking him out there when he doesn’t know the plays, but we were able to get him in on a few things that he felt comfortable with.

“The pass plays rolled to his direction. He had one nice block on a safety. … I’m excited to get him in there when he’s got it all down.”

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