Red Zone

DiMarco makes an impact in Chiefs debut

Chiefs fullback Patrick DiMarco hadn’t been on the field in almost two years, but the wait was worth it.

DiMarco, who joined the Chiefs as a free agent in early August and spent the first 11 weeks of the season on the practice squad, was activated for last week’s game against Carolina and started the first NFL game he’s ever appeared in.

DiMarco took part in 38 offensive plays — and 14 more on special teams — and helped lead the way for many of Jamaal Charles’ 127 yards in the Chiefs’ 27-21 win over the Panthers.

“I’ve worked my butt off this year in the weight room, and it was really rewarding to get back out there and be part of the team,” said DiMarco, who played collegiately at South Carolina and originally entered the NFL last year as an undrafted free agent with San Diego but failed to make the Chargers roster.”

Though DiMarco took the spot on the roster of Jovan Belcher, the Chiefs had plans to activate it him before the tragic events of last Saturday.

“They thought I was ready,” DiMarco said. “Starting last Wednesday I started getting reps with the offense. I practiced well all last week, and they gave me the shot, and I ran with it. I was comfortable out there. I had good communication with Jamaal and the offensive line, so we had a feel for where we would be.”

Going on fourth down

Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel shed his conservative tendencies by going for it on fourth down three times in last week’s 27-21 win over Carolina.

The Chiefs converted all three fourth-and-1 situations and turned them into 14 points.

“Each situation is a different situation,” Crennel said, comparing going for the first downs compared to previous decisions where he opted for field goals. “You go with your gut feeling on what’s going to happen, and how it’s going to go.”

Crennel ran the clock down to two seconds remaining in the first half before calling time out and setting up a play-action pass to tight end Tony Moeaki for a one-yard touchdown pass and a 17-14 halftime lead.

“It was real short on the first one, and I felt like the energy was good, so let’s try it,” Crennel said. “The next one, I think was a similar situation, so I just felt good about trying it, so I did. And it worked fortunately.”

Peyton Hillis converted a pair of one-yard runs on fourth down that sustained a drive that ended with a 3-yard touchdown pass from Brady Quinn to Jon Baldwin. The fact the Chiefs ran the ball for 158 yards against Carolina gave Crennel confidence they could get the first downs.

“We gave him a reason to,” offensive tackle Eric Winston said of going for it on fourth down. “It’s hard as a play-caller and as a coach to say, ‘Let’s pass it on fourth and inches, or fourth and a half a yard.’ If you’re not running the ball effectively, then I don’t think you give him a reason to go for it. We did a good job of giving him a reason to keep going for it, and (offensive coordinator Brian) Daboll to keep dialing up the run. “

Injury update

The Chiefs said backup safety Abram Elam did not practice because of a quadriceps injury and is doubtful for Sunday’s game. Linebacker Derrick Johnson (hamstring), cornerback Brandon Flowers (hamstring), safety Kendrick Lewis (shoulder), offensive tackle Branden Albert (back), safety Eric Berry (hand), cornerback Brandon Flowers (hamstring) and guards Jeff Allen (illness) and Russ Hochstein (back) were limited in practice and are questionable.

The Browns said wide receiver/kick returner Josh Cribbs (shoulder/chest) was limited in practice all week but is probable.

It’s called foot-ball

Crennel’s not a big fan of the idea being floated around to eliminate kickoffs in NFL games. Because so many head injuries result on kickoff returns and coverage, the league moved the spot of kickoffs from the 30 to the 35 which led to more touchbacks and fewer injuries. Now, there’s talk of doing away with kickoffs altogether.

“We call it football, so the foot is part of the game,” Crennel said. “I understand why there is some thought about doing that, but I think that once you eliminate that, you eliminate the punt as well. So, you eliminate all the kicking game, so how does that impact the game that we know? That would be my response.”