With the Kansas City Chiefs ready to report to training camp less than two weeks from now, it's time to look toward 2012 and forget the disappointment of 2011. With a new crop of talent coming in and some stars returning to the lineup, the Chiefs are poised to make a run in the AFC.Since the aforementioned training camp is approaching rapidly (July 28th for the veterans to be exact), it's always fun to look at some storylines headed into the summer. Here are my top five:
1) The ACL Crew
The defense is expected to perhaps be a top-five unit in the NFL this season and with Berry in the fold, that certainly could become a reality. Charles is the focal point of the offense and is needed desperately by Matt Cassel and new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll. Not only does Charles provide a game-breaking runner, but he can catch the ball and give Cassel a safety valve on passing downs.
Moeaki shouldn't go underrated either. The Iowa product showed some serious ability in his rookie season and along with Kevin Boss, could form one of the league's top tandems at tight end.
2) Dontari Poe's Progress
How much of an impact will this kid make his rookie season? It's not fair to expect much out of a defensive lineman who is really just learning how to become a nose tackle, but life isn't fair. After years of being without a legitimate man in the middle on the line, Poe provides that and then some for this team with a 346-pound frame.
However, he plays one of the toughest positions to dominate right away and will need seasoning. If he can make even a moderate impact in 2012, the Chiefs have to feel great.
3) Brian Daboll's Offense
Kansas City looked lost on offense last year, much thanks (or absolutely no thanks rather) to Bill Muir and his play-calling. The Chiefs couldn't get anything going partially due to injuries, Tyler Palko and the abysmal scripts going into games.Now, they have a new man making the gameplan.
Daboll's resume should give everyone pause as to whether he's worth anything as an offensive mind in the NFL. He's never captained a group to finishing in the top half of the league, something that is unquestionably worrisome. However, he's also been saddled with the Browns and Dolphins, two teams that didn't have any talent to speak of compared to this roster.
With Cassel having to learn another system, this could easily be the biggest downfall to the season if things don't go according to plan.
4) Justin Houston's Development
Houston looked like a man among boys at the end of the 2011 campaign, racking up 5.5 sacks in the last five contests, including three against the Chicago Bears. The third-round pick looks like a steal and paired with Tamba Hali, could provide Kansas City with bookend pass-rushers to terrorize quarterbacks with.
It's key that Houston took the offseason seriously and really honed his skills. The man has already shown he can play the run and drop into coverage, showing off his all-around prowess. If Houston can take his game to the next level the Chiefs will be able to get ample pressure without having to blitz.
5) Rodney Hudson Running The Show
This might be the most overlooked storyline heading into 2012. Hudson is entering just his second year out of Florida State and is being asked not only to learn a new playbook, but call out the protections at the line. He's replacing a stalwart in Casey Wiegmann, who he hopefully learned from last year.
After getting very limited playing time as a rookie, Hudson is getting thrown into the fire and needs to hold his own. With Eric Winston being added to the line, big things are expected of this group immediately. If they can do the job up front, this offense has major capabilities.
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