Red Zone

Winter weather at Arrowhead could be game-changer for Chiefs, fans

There’s an 80 percent chance of precipitation this weekend in Kansas City, which means the Chiefs — who face the Indianapolis Colts at Arrowhead Stadium at noon Sunday — might be playing in inclement weather for the second time in three weeks.

“It will be a little bit cold,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said.

The Chiefs played through some snow flurries two weeks ago at Washington and rolled to a 45-10 victory. On that same day, some of the highest-scoring and most exciting games of the season were played in snowstorms at Philadelphia and Baltimore.

It has snowed at Arrowhead before, of course, and the Chiefs do a pretty good job of clearing the Truman Sports Complex parking lots and shoveling snow out of the grandstands before kickoff. Still, team officials encourage fans to arrive well in advance of kickoff so they can take their time and make their way safely into the lots.

The Chiefs utilize a weather-monitoring system similar to those used by airports. Team officials say they began tracking and planning specifically for this storm last week and have already put their winter weather plan into effect.

That means they have tractors, loaders, dump trucks and plows ready if they need to clear the parking lots, and also have 350 tons of salt and ice melt on hand. Some 200 personnel are scheduled to work or are on call to come in overnight Saturday into Sunday and will be prepared to clear the stadium with shovels and a system of chutes and trailers hooked to carts to haul snow out of the building.

Stadium workers will treat where they can Saturday night and the main snow-removal operation will begin early Sunday morning if needed.

The field will be covered until close to game time, per NFL rules.

Once noon rolls around, though, the game will go on. And for some Chiefs, such as fifth-year kicker Ryan Succop, playing in the snow has actually been a rarity.

“Playing in Kansas City for five years, we figured we’d have at least one snow game by now,” Succop said. “But (Washington) was really the first one.

“We’ve had some games where it’s flurrying a little bit, but nothing like the accumulation like we had a couple weeks ago. But really, it’s kind of fun. It’s kind of neat out there — you’re playing football in the snow, and you’ve just got to embrace it.”

As much “fun” as it might be to play in the snow, it can also be a game-changer.

“You have to approach things differently,” Succop said. “Obviously you can’t plant as hard. Because when the field is slick like that, it’s just not going to hold one plant foot sticking in the ground.”

As for how the cold weather might affect the rest of the Chiefs, Reid doesn’t think players have to practice in the cold to play well in it. The Chiefs have been working indoors all week long, even though midweek brought some balmy weather for this time of year.

“That field out there is frozen, and it didn’t thaw with the warmer weather,” Reid said. “I’m really not big on that either way.

“I spent a few years up in Green Bay, and heck, if it got below 50, we were inside. So I did it a little different in Philly … and we won games. So I don’t worry much about that.”

Special shirts for fans

With the playoffs inching nearer — and a long season drawing to a close — Chiefs quarterback Chase Daniel and his teammates really wanted to give back to the fans who have cheered them every step of the way.

So sometime last week, they came up with an idea, something that would allow them to do just that and raise a little money for charity, too.

“What we’ve decided to do is make a 2013 Chiefs playoff shirt by the players for the fans,” Daniel said in the Chiefs’ locker room Friday. “The mantra, the slogan of the shirt, is going to be ‘Work to win,’ and that’s what we do. We were introduced to that term by Coach (Andy) Reid from day one of training camp, we’ve had the mantra day in and day out, and we want to unify the community with it.”

Daniel said all proceeds from the shirts, which will be red and cost $10, will go to various charities in the Kansas City area.

“One is the Children’s Center for the Visually Impaired, the Children’s Place, the Make-A-Wish Foundation … with a bunch of these other charities that guys have close ties with,” Daniel said.

Daniel said Chiefs players will soon start “a social media frenzy” about the shirts in hopes of raising more money and driving up excitement for the playoffs.

“We’re going to wait until the first playoff game to get them,” Daniel said. “Me and (starting quarterback) Alex (Smith) are getting shirts for every guy in this building, including coaches, support staff, stuff like that.”

Daniel, a former backup in New Orleans, said the Saints did a similar thing in 2010 with the phrase “finish strong” and wound up selling 40,000 shirts, a number he hopes to surpass here.

“It’s going to look sweet — it’s going to be a red-out,” Daniel said. “That’s our color here, and I know these fans are going to get behind it.”

Fans can purchase shirts by visiting

Injury report

It appears the Chiefs will get at least two of their four injured starters back against Indianapolis.

Receiver Dexter McCluster (ankle) and tight end Anthony Fasano (concussion), who missed last Sunday’s game against Oakland, are listed as probable on the injury report and were full participants in Friday’s practice.

Meanwhile, left tackle Branden Albert (knee) and outside linebacker Justin Houston (elbow) were both limited participants in practice Friday and are listed as questionable on the injury report.

“We’ll see,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “It will be a stretch for them to make it.”

Whether Albert and/or Houston play or not, the Chiefs figure to get a boost from the return of McCluster, who has returned two punts for touchdowns this year, and Fasano, who has caught 22 passes for 180 yards and three touchdowns in eight games.

“He’s got a lot of snaps under his belt,” Reid said. “He’s a good route runner. He’s smart. He’s a matchup that you can take advantage of in games.”

Believe it or not, Fasano even has a fan in backup tight end Sean McGrath, a second-year pro who has started the last two games in his absence.

“Every time he comes back, I love it,” McGrath said. “You just get that confidence because he’s out there and he’s been doing it for so long. There’s just a certain comfortability that you get in the game with him that (tells you) everything’s gonna be alright. It’s like, ‘Uncle Tony’s here.’ 

Fasano is certainly a reliable target. He’s caught 22 of the 30 passes (73 percent) thrown his way this season, a figure that impresses McGrath, who has caught 25 of the 38 passes thrown his way (63 percent).

“I mean, I think it speaks volumes about the tight end group,” McGrath said with a laugh. “We do our job.”

The Chiefs certainly appear to be in better shape than Indianapolis. Safety Sergio Brown (groin), defensive tackle Montori Hughes (knee), defensive tackle Ricky-Jean Francois (foot), offensive tackle Jeff Linkenback (quad) and guard Joe Reitz (concussion) are doubtful, while receiver T.Y. Hilton (shoulder), cornerback Greg Toler (groin), guard Hugh Thornton (neck) and linebacker Daniel Adongo (hamstring) are questionable.

The Star’s Randy Covitz contributed to this report.
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