Red Zone

Powe, not Poe, battling Toribio at nose tackle

One of the most competitive battles in Chiefs camp is at nose tackle, where Anthony Toribio is starting ahead of first-round pick Dontari Poe and second-year man Jerrell Powe, a sixth-round pick in 2011.

Toribio made solo tackles in each of the No. 1 defense’s series during the preseason opener Friday against Arizona, stopping LaRod Stephens-Howling in his tracks after a 1-yard gain; and dropping Alfonso Smith for a 1-yard loss. Powe was credited with a sack. Poe did not scratch the scoresheet.

“Toribio made some plays, which we liked,” Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel said. “The young Poe, he’s still learning, and he gave good effort. He’s trying to learn to do the things the way we want them. He’s not there yet.

“And P-O-W-E he got in there, he made a play. He’s improved from where he was last year. The completion is still a competition. It’s not a bad thing to have a couple or three guys to play the position, if they can do it.”

Flowers’ heel healing

Cornerback Brandon Flowers, who suffered a heel injury during the July 31 night practice, is the only starter sidelined by an injury, and it will be two full weeks if he doesn’t return today.

“He’s getting better, but it’s not where he wants it to be yet,” Crennel said, “and having to do the job he has to do. He’s rehabbing and he’s working at it, and hopefully one day, he’ll come out, and all of a sudden, ‘Boom,’ he’ll feel great, and he’ll be ready to go, because they tell me those bruises hurt for a little bit, and all of a sudden they just disappear.”

Fourth-down gamble

Crennel didn’t hesitate to go for a fourth-and-1 from the Arizona 47 on the Chiefs’ first drive against Arizona.

The Chiefs emptied the backfield, and quarterback Matt Cassel picked up the first down with a 2-yard sneak, extending what would become a 72-yard touchdown drive.

“If you want to generate some momentum and some confidence in your team,” Crennel said, “you can make that choice at that time. So we made the choice, and that kept the momentum going and allowed us drive down and score.”

Might Crennel be so inclined to gamble like that in the regular season opener as opposed to the preseason?

“Sometimes coaches have to practice as well,” Crennel said with a chuckle. “I was practice coaching then.”

Replacement refs review

The Chiefs played their first preseason game with game officials who are temporarily replacing the regular referees during their labor impasse with the league. Crennel said he told his players before the game not to let the replacement refs affect their performance.

“It doesn’t do any good, whether you like it or not, to talk about the officials,” Crennel said. “They’re not changing (calls). We go play the game. I told the players, ‘Your job is to play, let the officials officiate. I hope they’re players, and not officials.’”

Asked how he thought the replacements handled the game, Crennel said: “Hey, they officiated the game.”

Challenge flag duties

When Crennel successfully challenged an official’s call, turning a ruling of an incomplete pass into a fumble recovery by the Chiefs, assistant head coach Maurice Carthon had the red challenge flag and tossed it to the field.

“We all work together,” Crennel said of the Chiefs’ procedure on challenging a call. “I’ve got somebody upstairs, I’ve got guys’ eyes’ downstairs, and they give me indications on what they think. And when I choose to throw it, I tell Maurice to throw it.”

Does Crennel, 65, not think is arm is strong enough to toss the flag far enough to get the referees’ attention?

“My arm is good,” he said. “It’s the speed if the ball were down away from the bench, I don’t have the speed I used to have.”