The Pro Bowl never gets old for outside linebacker Tamba Hali, and he hopes to represent the Chiefs in NFL all-star games in the future.
But Hali, 31, has one more year left on his contract, which will count $11.96 million against the salary cap in 2015, and with fellow Pro Bowl linebacker Justin Houston due to be an unrestricted free agent, there’s no guarantee the Chiefs can afford both.
“I love playing the game,” said Hali, one of four Chiefs selected to the Pro Bowl on Tuesday night. “I put my body in a position to be able to play and compete every year. As long as my body is able to function the way I like for it to, and I can play at a high level, I’ll be around … wherever.”
Hali, Houston, running back Jamaal Charles and nose tackle Dontari Poe were selected to play in the Pro Bowl on Jan. 25 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., which precedes the Feb. 1 Super Bowl to be played in the same facility.
“We still have a chance to go to the Super Bowl,” said Hali, whose team must beat San Diego on Sunday and hope for help in two other games in order to qualify for the playoffs. “Let’s not count that out. Let’s take care of business on Sunday.”
Hali was voted to his fourth consecutive Pro Bowl despite having just six sacks, his fewest since he had three in 2008.
“In my first five years in the league, I didn’t smell the Pro Bowl,” Hali said. “Now people are voting me in. This year, I look at it like, man, there are a lot of guys who played well and didn’t make it. My stats don’t show Pro Bowl numbers, but I guess the coaches and players who watch film feel I deserve it.
“I was able to accomplish goals I set … but I’m all about winning games and trying to get to the final game. That’s been my mentality since I’ve been here.
Houston, the NFL sack leader with 18 sacks, declined interview requests, though he said of the Pro Bowl, “I’d trade that for a guaranteed spot in the playoffs.”
Charles, selected for the fourth time, said: “It’s awesome to get compliments, especially from the fans and the coaches around the league and the players. I’m just truly blessed, but I still want to be able to make it to the playoffs and help my team win. Individual (awards) are cool but I want to help my team win championships around here.”
The Chiefs said wide receiver Dwayne Bowe (shoulder), guard Zach Fulton (foot/toe) and Hali (knee) did not practice on Wednesday. For Hali, it was a precautionary measure because the team practiced indoors on turf. Coach Andy Reid said on Monday that he expected Bowe to be available for Sunday’s game.
Tight end Anthony Fasano (knee), running back Jamaal Charles (hamstring/ankle), cornerback Philip Gaines (illness) and linebacker Joe Mays (knee) were limited.
The Chargers said running back Ryan Mathews (ankle), punter Mike Scifres (shoulder), and center Chris Watt (ankle) did not practice.
Smoothing out the snaps
One week after missing two of three field goals, the Chiefs appear to have ironed out the issues as kicker Cairo Santos made all four of his attempts in last Sunday’s 20-12 loss at Pittsburgh.
Long snapper Thomas Gafford accepted part of the blame for the misses against Oakland, and special teams coordinator Dave Toub said he looked much better this week.
“He did a great job with the snaps and holds,” Toub said. “It was good to rebound from the game before.”
The Chiefs signed Charley Hughlett to the practice squad after the Oakland game but he has already moved on to the Browns, who signed him to their active roster. Toub said the mixture of skills make long snappers a hot commodity.
“It’s a combination of size, speed, accuracy with your snap and the footwork to block,” Toub said. “When there is someone who can do it, they are sought after.”
Back to basics
For offensive coordinator Doug Pederson, the best way to get a team out of an offensive rut like the Chiefs experienced last week is to get back to basics.
Even though Alex Smith threw for a season-high 311 yards the team came up empty on four trips to the red-zone.
“Defenses start getting a little more stingy and we’re seeing a lot more drop eight — rush three drop eight — into coverage and the lanes become tighter down there to throw the ball in,” Pederson said. “We also faced one of the top red-zone defenses last week but that is a good learning tool because we can execute better and we know where the mistakes are.”
The Star’s Kathleen Gier contributed to this report.