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Chiefs expect to find playing time for Dee Ford behind Tamba Hali and Justin Houston

Kansas City Chiefs outside linebacker Tamba Hali celebrated a sack of Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr with teammate Dee Ford.
Kansas City Chiefs outside linebacker Tamba Hali celebrated a sack of Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr with teammate Dee Ford. The Kansas City Star

The Chiefs’ decision to bring back Tamba Hali at a reduced salary should keep their vaunted pass-rush intact, but it also creates an interesting situation for second-year pro Dee Ford.

Ford, the No. 23 overall pick of last year’s draft, sat for most of the season as he struggled to find playing time behind Hali and Justin Houston, who each made the Pro Bowl at outside linebacker.

Ford finished the season with only eight tackles and 1 1/2 sacks while playing roughly 9 percent of the Chiefs’ total defensive snaps. He did earn more playing time as a rotational player on passing downs in the last three games, however, something Chiefs coach Andy Reid hopes to continue this year.

“I think (you’ll see) more of what you saw at the end of the season,” Reid said. “Dee will take another step forward. He’s very familiar with everything.”

And then, as he is wont to do when it comes to Ford, Reid also noted that he was a 4-3 defensive end in college who had to adjust to playing 3-4 outside linebacker. Reid also noted that Ford’s run defense will remain an area of emphasis going forward.

“I’ll tell you that’s the primary thing,” Reid said.

But even the areas of his game where he’s strong — like his pass rush — will need refinement, now that opponents have NFL tape on him.

“We know he can rush the passer,” Reid said. (But) it’s always going to be a challenge because offensive coaches had an opportunity to study him and see what moves he’s got, so you’ve got to keep adding to that repertoire of pass rush moves as we go and hone those in even better than what you were doing.”

To reach Terez A. Paylor, call 816-234-4489 or send email to tpaylor@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter: @TerezPaylor.

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