Andy Studebaker Gets First Crack At Tamba Hali's Spot

KANSAS CITY, MO - AUGUST 26: Steven Jackson #39 of the St. Louis Rams rushes past Andy Studebaker #96 of the Kansas City Chiefs during a pre-season game at Arrowhead Stadium on August 26, 2011 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

Kansas City Chiefs head coach Romeo Crennel was asked about Tamba Hali's absence on Monday and whether veteran Andy Studebaker would be the next man up trying to replace him.

"Studebaker is the next guy up," Crennel said, via comments distributed by the Chiefs. "We always look at guys and see what's going to happen. Studebaker, he's played both left and right for us in the past, so we'll look there the next week and a half and see how it goes."

Studebaker gets the first shot but he's not necessarily the one who will be replacing Hali on Sept. 9. Crennel said they haven't yet decided the starter for the Atlanta game and Studebaker echoed the same thing.

"They haven't made that declaration to me," Studebaker said when asked if he was ready to play the No. 1 role in the season opener. "Whatever opportunities come along, I'll take those. I'll take the reps I get and give it the best of my ability, but I'll leave that stuff up to coach. Like I said, they haven't announced that to the team or anybody yet."

So no decision yet. The Chiefs depth chart doesn't mean a whole lot but behind Hali is Cameron Sheffield, third year pass rusher. He is a potential candidate to play but A.) has less experience than Studebaker and B.) is currently injured. Crennel couldn't say for certain whether he'd practice this week.

After those two you're talking about two third teamers -- Edgar Jones and Gabe Miller. Jones has been in KC for only a couple of weeks so he's more of an unknown than anything. Miller, a second-year player, was last year's mysterious IR player.

Check out the Chiefs depth chart here to figure out how they'll replace Hali; it's not easy.

Let me end with this: What if Justin Houston hadn't ended his 2011 season with 5.5 sacks in the final five games? Would we be looking at this thing the same way?

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