[Topeka Capital-Journal] The sudden retirement of Willie Roaf leaves the Chiefs with three offensive tackles — primarily Kyle Turley, Jordan Black and Will Svitek — vying to take over at left tackle. And it leaves a fan base ranging from highly concerned to apoplectic.
What will happen to Larry Johnson’s 2,000-yard season? Can anybody protect Trent Green? Is the Super Bowl, at the tip of everyone’s tongue upon Ty Law’s signing, now just a pipe dream?
The Chiefs have questions in the trenches, which is the place we’re told games are won.
The first question mark is Kevin Sampson, he of the one career start, who figures to start at right tackle in place of the retired John Welbourn.
On the left side, Turley is the most experienced of the three, having started 95 games for the Saints and St. Louis Rams over an eight-year career. He’s been running with the first unit in training camp. But he hasn’t played a regular-season game since 2003 because of a back injury and, at 280 pounds, remains the lightest offensive lineman on Kansas City’s roster.
Svitek, a sixth-round pick in 2005, is a darling of Chiefs president and general manager Carl Peterson. A 6-foot-6, 300-pounder, he started 10 games for the Frankfurt Galaxy of NFL Europe this season, helping Frankfurt to a league-leading 1,745 rushing yards.
Black started 10 games last season, six at left tackle and four at right.
The Chiefs have proven they can run without Roaf. In the six games Roaf missed last year, the Chiefs still averaged 137 rushing yards per game (down from their 16-game average of 149). Kansas City runners gained at least 4.65 yards per carry in four of those games, which included Larry Johnson’s 211-yard performance against Houston.
The questions will linger until the regular season begins Sept. 10 against Cincinnati. But it’s July. The Chiefs have time to study for the test.
“The good part about it is if that’s the situation (Roaf remaining retired), it’s the first day of camp,” coach Herm Edwards said Friday. “It’s not the last day of camp. If anything, that’s the silver lining.”