The 2012 Kansas City Chiefs are about to test their depth on defense much sooner than they would like.
On Monday August 20th, Kansas City linebacker Tamba Hali was suspended for one game for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
Instead of getting a four-game suspension, Hali will only miss one game. He will also not be paid for two games.
When deciding punishment, commissioner Roger Goodell has decided to handle each instance of substance abuse by a player in an individual manner.
The Chiefs and Hali were able to keep the information totally quiet from anyone in the media, and the news was not brought to light until the suspension was handed down.
"I apologize to my teammates, the Hunt family, the Kansas City Chiefs organization and most importantly, our fans," Hali said in a press release. The Pro Bowler also promised to make up for missing the first game of the season, by playing great in the second game.
The news will put a smile on Matt Ryan’s face as the Atlanta Falcons will be coming to Arrowhead on September 9th for the home opener. Romeo Crennel will be looking to alter his game plan without Hali.
The Chiefs will be looking for Andy Studebaker to step into Hali’s position. Obviously Studebaker is not the pass rusher Hali is. However, the Charlie Hustle attitude that he brings, plus the amped up crowd at Arrowhead, could be enough to help the Chiefs keep pressure on Ryan and the Falcons' offense.
Studebaker had a huge game in 2009 filling in for Mike Vrabel. He picked off two passes against the defending Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers, returning one for 94 yards. Studebaker has been a super substitute in the past and Chiefs fans will be hoping he can do it again.
To go along with Hali’s suspension, injuries to cornerback back Brandon Flowers' foot have been a big concern. Flowers has been in a walking boot and has not practiced, let alone played in any of the preseason games.
Crennel hints that he still expects Flowers to play opening day, but he is healing very slowly. Safety Kendrick Lewis injured his shoulder in the preseason game against the Rams. The Chiefs do have the talented Eric Berry, but overall are not very deep at the safety position and need Lewis to be healthy.
With a lack of pass rush and a banged up Chiefs' secondary, the Falcons' Roddy White and Julio Jones should be excited. Future Hall of Fame tight end and former Chief, Tony Gonzalez, will also look to utilize the injured secondary. In his first return to Kansas City, I fully expect a standing ovation for Gonzalez, one of the most popular Chiefs of my generation.
The Jeff Fisher led Rams, forced their will on the Chiefs' defense last weekend in St. Louis, scoring touchdowns in their first two drives. Expect Crennel to demand more from his young players Friday night against Seattle.
The third preseason game should provide an opportunity to decide who is capable of handling the secondary duties, if indeed Flowers and Lewis can’t get healthy in time to face Atlanta.