Some thoughts after the Chiefs’ training camp practice Thursday:
• I like the collection of bodies the Chiefs have on the offensive line. They can legitimately go seven players deep, something they haven’t been able to do in some time. Branden Albert and Eric Fisher give the Chiefs the potential for their best set of tackles since Willie Roaf and John Tait.
But I can’t shake the feeling that something is missing and that something is Ryan Lilja. Albert, who is 28 and has played five NFL seasons, is the veteran of the group. The Chiefs can use the kind of experience that Lilja, a veteran of two Super Bowls from his days with Indianapolis, can bring. The Chiefs over the winter reached out to Lilja for another season after Lilja had announced his retirement. But their interest in him cooled as the offseason progressed and now, after Lilja signed with the Denver Broncos, they will have to play against him twice this season. They well may come to regret their decision not to get him re-signed.
• The Chiefs didn’t have the cap room to bring Lilja in at this point, anyway. NFLPA figures show the Chiefs to have just $82,492 of salary cap space remaining, enough to cover perhaps one of Lilja’s paychecks but certainly not 17. The former administration of general manager Scott Pioli hoarded salary cap space to the frustration of Chiefs fans. Now you’re seeing the other extreme, where the Chiefs have spent to the point they can’t add a player such as Lilja. And that isn’t a good place for a team to be. A team should at this point in the year have a rainy day fund to add a player like Lilja.
•Here’s a link to my story about Lilja
and what Albert believes the Chiefs are missing without him.
• The offense has generally been outplayed by the defense early in camp but Thursday took that to an extreme. The offense got a couple of big plays from Jamaal Charles and a long Ricky Stanzi touchdown pass to Jamar Newsome when cornerback Conroy Black mistakenly went for the interception but only managed to tip the pass to Newsome. Otherwise, the day was mostly a waste for the offense. The Chiefs were moving for a touchdown on a two-minute drill when Jon Baldwin dropped what would have been a touchdown pass, killing a drive. Later, Travis Kelce lost a fumble in the two-minute drill after making a catch. Generally, the defense is ahead of the offense early in camp before the offense catches up. In this case, the Chiefs’ offense looks to be headed the wrong way.