Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles said he plans to dedicate Sunday’s game against Denver to one of the teenage boys who drowned over the weekend on a farm pond north of Savannah, Mo.
Charles said he met and posed for pictures with Andre Lance, 17, at training camp in St. Joseph a couple of years ago and learned through Instagram of the young man’s death, along with another teen, Tyler Brandt, also 17,
“We lose a lot of people on your journey,” Charles said. “He’s just a young kid. Once you’re here, once you’re gone … that was a sad, sad story to find out about.”
Parker replaces Berry
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Chiefs coach Andy Reid said Ron Parker who has played the last three games at left cornerback, will take over at strong safety on Sunday against Denver in place of Eric Berry.
Berry is out for the season after being placed on the non-football illness while undergoing tests for a mass in his chest that could be lymphoma.
Parker started six games earlier this season at strong safety when Berry was out because of an ankle sprain.
Rookie Phillip Gaines is listed as the starter at left cornerback, though it’s possible Jamell Fleming could play there as well.
Tight end Anthony Fasano (knee), wide receiver Junior Hemingway (concussion) and defensive lineman Kevin Vickerson (calf) did not practice on Wednesday.
Fasano participated in just two plays in last week’s win at Oakland, and caught passes on each — a 19-yard touchdown and another for 11 yards.
Reid said wide receiver Donnie Avery, who has missed the last seven games after undergoing sports hernia surgery “has a pretty good shot” to play on Sunday against Denver as does Fleming, who has missed the last four games because of a hamstring injury.
The Chiefs said punter Dustin Colquitt (right calf), cornerback Chris Owens (knee/abdomen) and outside linebacker Tamba Hali (knee) were limited participants.
The Broncos said running backs Montee Ball (groin) and Ronnie Hillman (foot); cornerbacks Aqib Talib (hamstring) and Kayvon Webster (shoulder); linebacker Brandon Marshall (concussion) and tight end Julius Thomas (ankle) did not practice.
Thomas keeps return job
Rookie De’Anthony Thomas will retain punt-return duties on Sunday against Denver despite making some questionable decisions in last week’s game at Oakland.
Thomas put the Chiefs in poor field position when he fielded a punt at his 17 and lost 12 yards back to the 5. Thomas was also guilty of letting some punts hit the ground when he should have called fair catches. He was replaced by Frankie Hammond Jr. late in the game, but special teams coordinator Dave Toub said Thomas is still the club’s No. 1 punt returner.
“We wanted him to field that ball the way he did,” Toub said of Thomas’ 12-yard loss, “but he has to learn, you can’t run around NFL players. NFL players are really fast, and sometimes you have to catch the ball, get 5 yards or save us the ball from bouncing.”
“There’s a learning curve with punt returners. I went through the same thing with Devin Hester (at Chicago). He’s got to go get the short ones and understand a fair catch is a weapon. Use the fair catch … get up there, everybody has to get out of your way. He wants to return everything, which is a great trait to have, but sometimes you’ve got to say, ‘The coverage is there, the punt is there, I’ve got to use the fair catch.’”
Hammond returned punts for 28 and 20 yards at Oakland, but Toub said that was a temporary fix.
“We are fortunate,” Toub said. “We have two guys. There are five or six teams in the league that would love to have Frankie.”
Harris endorses Bowen at KU
Denver cornerback Chris Harris Jr., who spent 2007-10 at Kansas, would like to see Clint Bowen get the Jayhawks’ coaching job permanently.
“He loves Kansas,” Harris said. “There’s nobody who wants to see KU succeed more than coach Bowen. If we give him some more time … they’ve gotten a lot better as the season has gone on, except for last week (against Oklahoma).”