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Arrowheadlines: Chiefs News 2/26

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Wow! There is a lot of stuff out there this morning. Luckily it's a snow day for me, so I don't have to sweat being late to work to get this done. We have OTs, NTs, Pioli speak, and Haley dropping the F-bomb. Enjoy today's Kansas City Chiefs news!

Pioli spoke in a press conference setting. He spoke standing in the middle of a circle of reporters. He spoke one-on-one with several scribblers and TV types.

It was a media relations tour de force from a guy who despite the fact he handles the duties very well, does not like the whole process of the media prying into his business.

That’s why at the end of those two hours was left a pile of words that when sifted and sorted, produced little in the way of news about the Chiefs and only an occasional insight into what’s happening with the team.

Here are the news nuggets:

Pioli Unplugged at Combine … Friday Cup O’Chiefs from Bob Gretz

Scott Pioli and Todd Haley spent much of their time at last year’s scouting combine interviewing prospective assistant coaches and trying to fill out the Chiefs’ staff.

This year, they set the coaching staff in the days after season’s end. Charlie Weis was imported as offensive coordinator and Romeo Crennel as his defensive counterpart.

That frees Pioli, the general manager, and Haley, the head coach, to do what they’re really here for — concentrate on the draft. No wonder Pioli already has a better feel about the Chiefs as they continue their offseason preparations.

Good coaching chemistry has Chiefs comfortable at combine from KC Star

Okung met with the media on Thursday and talked about his goals and what he sees as his future in the NFL. He’s also asked specifically about whether he’s seen any overt interest from the Chiefs.

Here’s what the 6-6, 307-pound two-time All-America had to say.

NFL Combine: Russell Okung from Bob Gretz

Most of the league believes that the Chiefs sent their sixth-round choice to Miami for Alleman-Ndukwe. The Dolphins already have K.C.’s seventh-round selection from the draft day trade last year for TE Jake O’Connell.

But Pioli refused to confirm that fact on Thursday at the NFL Combine.

"You are trying to get me in trouble with my father-in-law aren’t you," said Pioli when asked about the sixth-round choice. "I’m not going to talk about what we traded to Miami."

Pioli was asked if it was a state secret.

"No, it’s not a state secret but when someone asks me to keep something confidential, I respect their request," said Pioli.

That Mysterious Miami Draft Choice from Bob Gretz

Kansas City Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli will stake his job on the new players he identifies for his team this week at the NFL scouting combine.

Pioli is recruiting in the truest sense, digging for franchise keystones, and it's critical his intuition be sharp. The Chiefs were 4-12 in Pioli's first season, after all. And as he said a few times Thursday, "When you win four games, everybody has to do their job better."

To that end, Pioli thinks he ultimately will be better thanks to his tight relationship with Old Dominion coach Bobby Wilder, which isn't as random as it sounds.

GM's friendship with ODU coach may help Chiefs at NFL combine from The Virginian-Pilot

For those of you who don’t know what the Combine is, it is an invitation-only event that is an "annual job fair for prospective new NFL players. For six days at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, players are put through a series of drills, tests and interviews with more than 600 NFL personnel including head coaches, general managers and scouts." That’s how it’s described by the NFL on their web site.

In reality, it’s a meat grinder that should be just a piece of the player evaluation process.

The Combine used to just get mentioned in a handful of paragraphs 15 years ago in the newspaper. But now that the NFL is king and fans crave information 24/7/365, the Combine’s popularity has skyrocketed. Fans, experts and analysts will pore over 40-yard dash times and shuttle drill data like it was the Zapruder film trying to find the third shooter in the grassy knoll.

Is it overkill? Definitely. Is it a little too geeky? Probably. Is it fun? Heck, yeah (if you don’t have a life. Or a wife).

Chiefs looking for next superstar at the NFL Combine this weekend from Examiner.com

Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli is a year removed from his time in New England, but his experience with the Patriots follows him.

As Pioli met with the media at yesterday’s NFL Combine, he was peppered with questions that reflected on his eight seasons with the Patriots, primarily as vice president of player personnel.

The Chiefs now have a coaching staff that has reunited Pioli with a couple of former colleagues. Charlie Weis was hired as offensive coordinator and Romeo Crennel is the new defensive coordinator. Both held the same positions with the Patriots.

The staff, led by head coach Todd Haley, is an experienced one, and Pioli hopes it can improve on last season’s 4-12 record.

"It’s a lot of people, and there are little things that have come up, even in the last several weeks, where we have challenges ahead of us and we sit together as a group,’’ said Pioli. "And to be able to bounce things off of people with experience like that is tremendous.

Pioli putting heads together in KC from The Boston Globe

The Kansas City Chiefs got it pretty easy, they don’t need to redo their front office, or find a new coaching staff. They just need to find some better players. That sounds a little crass but this is a team that has won just six games over the last two years, and ten over the last three. By ways of comparison that is just one more win in the last three years than the Detroit Lions who went winless in 2008. The challenge for the Chiefs is finding players that they can build around, and it sounds easy but is actually quite hard.

Chief’s fans and their front office staff want to believe that they have a QB Matt Cassel from which the offense can be built around.  I am not as optimistic. I think at some point the Chiefs are going to have to draft a franchise QB. I am not saying that he is a total bust, but that he needs a lot of help and may not have the skill set to be a NFL starter.

Fix the franchise: Kansas City Chiefs edition from The Inquisitr

As valuable as quarterbacks are in this increasingly passing-driven league, so, too, are the men paid to protect the blindside of the most important players on the field: left tackles.

And Okung has the classic look of a left tackle as a polished pass protector who's lean and mean at 6-foot-5 and 307 pounds.

Okung is expected to be the highest-drafted Oklahoma State player since running back Barry Sanders was picked third overall two decades ago.

It certainly doesn't hurt Okung's soaring stock that he's humble, quiet, grounded and churchgoing.

Oklahoma State offensive tackle regarded as top 10 talent from National Football Post

Russell Okung didn’t pay much attention to the Washington Redskins or the Kansas City Chiefs, the NFL franchises most mentioned as wanting him to protect its quarterback.

It’s not that Oklahoma State’s left mountain is a respecter of teams. It’s that he’s needed elsewhere. Russell Okung is perfect for the NFL from The Oklahoman

"I’m actually in church," Okung said of Sunday afternoons. "I don’t get to watch too many games."

That kind of talk is only going to make the ‘Skins or the Chiefs want him more. That kind of talk is windsong to the ears of NFL executives, who abhor committing tens of millions of dollars to ballplayers who might go all knucklehead on them after the fat bank account arrives.

Russell Okung is perfect for the NFL from The Oklahoman

Eight offensive tackles were selected in the first round two years ago, from Miami taking Jake Long with the first overall pick to Houston selecting Duane Brown at 26. While this year's class isn't quite in that league, six or seven could potentially hear their names called in the first round this April.

Russell Okung (Oklahoma State) and Trent Williams (Oklahoma) are the top-rated seniors at the position by NFLDraftScout.com after having almost parallel careers. The Texas natives were four-year contributors for Big 12 programs in the Sooner State and ended up teammates on All-American teams after their senior season.

Their games, however, are not all that similar. Okung is a solid left tackle prospect with good footwork and 36-inch arms, though he fights criticism from scouts about his nastiness and strength on the edge. Meanwhile, many scouts believe Williams is best off on the right side (where he played his first three seasons in Norman) because of his pure strength as a run blocker. Williams considers himself a protector of the blind side at heart, saying, "It was little weird moving to the right than it was moving to left [as a senior to replace Minnesota second-round pick Phil Loadholt]."

Okung, T. Williams at head of offensive line class from CBS sports

One day after owner Robert Kraft said the New England Patriots and nose tackle Vince Wilfork were close on a contract extension, a new deal for Pittsburgh Steelers nose tackle Casey Hampton might push them even closer.

Hampton reportedly agreed to a three-year, $21 million contract with $11 million in bonuses/guarantees, a deal that helps shape the market for nose tackles who play in 3-4 defenses.

Because the responsibilities of nose tackles in 3-4 defenses are unique -- which was a hot topic at the NFL combine Thursday -- establishing a market for them can be a challenge. But Hampton's agreement provides a general neighborhood, based on current market conditions, for where the Patriots and Wilfork ultimately will be, and could accelerate the process toward consummating a deal.

Hampton deal may guide Wilfork talks from ESPN

Steelers director of football operations Kevin Colbert said this draft class is deeper at defensive tackle than any other he has seen in 26 years of scouting. That didn't stop the Steelers from signing nose tackle Casey Hampton to a three-year deal worth as much as $21.3 million Thursday.

The New England Patriots and San Francisco 49ers also won't take the chance of finding a nose tackle who can contribute right away in the draft as they placed the franchise tag on Vince Wilfork and Aubrayo Franklin, respectively.

Such measures speak to the importance of the position as well as how the pendulum has swung even further when it comes to the supply and demand of nose tackles.

"Defensive linemen in general are tough to find, especially for 3-4 defenses," Colbert said yesterday at the NFL Scouting Combine. "In our case, Casey Hampton was the anchor of our defense and has been."

Nose tackles remain hot commodity from The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

The Dallas Cowboys did not put a franchise tag on wide receiver Miles Austin by Thursday's deadline.

NFL teams had until midday Thursday to designate their 2010 franchise and transition players.

Dallas has 14 free agents, including 13 restricted free agents. That includes Austin, who made his first visit to the Pro Bowl after leading the Cowboys with 81 receptions for 1,320 yards and 11 touchdowns...

...The next option for the Cowboys is whether to place a tender offer on Austin. Dallas could place the highest tender offer -- a first- and third-round tender -- that would net Austin $3.168 million for the 2010 season.

Another team, however, could offer Austin a contract and give up two picks if the Cowboys decided not to match that offer.

The deadline for signing of offer sheets of restricted free agents is April 15. If the Cowboys want to exercise the right of first refusal to Austin, they have until April 21.

Boys could place tender offer on Austin from ESPN

Former Bears assistant coach Pat Flaherty, who was a member of Dick Jauron’s staff and is now the New York Giants’ O-line coach, was among those in Grimm’s entourage.

Flaherty told a great story about the Giants’ Week Four 27-16 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs and their rookie head coach Todd Haley, who was also on Jauron’s staff as the wide receivers coach and was known for his fiery temper. It was the fourth of a season-opening five straight losses for the Chiefs.

"I told Todd his team really played hard for him and they were doing great," Flaherty said. "Well, you know how Todd is. He said, ‘(Blank) you, Flats. Don’t feel sorry for us. I don’t care if they play hard, I want them to play good."

"So I told him, ‘(Blank) you, too Todd,’ " Flaherty said with a laugh.

A Hall of Famer on and off the field from DailyHerald.com

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith spent about 1 hour, 40 minutes working on a new collective bargaining agreement Thursday and then left without saying a word.

Goodell eventually returned to the hotel lobby hours later, after participating in the league's competition committee meeting and reiterated the league's position of finishing a new deal before the CBA expires in March 2011.

"It doesn't pay to characterize everything," Goodell said. "They [the players] know our desire to get a deal done and we've got to keep working to do that."

NFL, union hold bargaining session from ESPN

The Travel Channel is showcasing Kansas City’s most authentic local rivalry, and it’s not KU vs. Mizzou.

The timeless battle between Arthur Bryant’s Barbeque and Gates Bar-B-Q will be settled in a showdown this weekend at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.

Or not.

"I almost don’t even see them as competitors," barbecue expert Doug Worgul said. "It’s like comparing the Chiefs to the Royals."

Regardless, the Travel Channel has invited the public to three local tapings for this episode of Food Wars:

• From noon to 4 p.m. on Friday, diehard Gates Bar-B-Q fans are wanted at the Gates restaurant at 1221 Brooklyn Ave.

• From noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, indefatigable fans of Arthur Bryant’s Barbeque should report to the 1727 Brooklyn Ave. restaurant.

• Beginning at noon on Sunday, raucous, banner-waving and uncompromising fans of both barbecue icons are invited to a final showdown filming at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, 1616 E. 18th St.

Arthur Bryant’s, Gates will face off for The Travel Channel’s barbecue special from Kansas City Business Journal

Player Tweets

almighty31 my phone still messed up. SMH.........
almighty31 truck still not ready. i gotta swap my chi town trip til after ATL..... mad as ever cause they aint got my tag for my truck yet. GA is slow
MrKolbySmith Is curling a sport?
MrKolbySmith KC is where its @ baby!!!
MrKolbySmith Thanks my manRT @s2weathers: @MrKolbySmith Hey bud glad to see u sign on again with the Chiefs! I'm excited to have you back!! Good luck!

Media and Fans

JoshLooney Chiefs fans...if you've got a question for a Combine prospect send em this way and I just might ask
ChiefsPR Take an early lunch tomorrow and tune in Coach Haley with Rich Gannon and Jim Miller on Sirius 124 from the combine at 11:15 AM (CST).
 jimgaffigan If we are gonna have to deal with all this snow you'd think they let us have another Christmas.
Adam_Schefter It's this year's version of Stafford or Sanchez. RT @MattMaiocco: Quickie combine survey: McCoy over Suh for best player in draft.