The inside linebacker training camp battle is expected to be among the most intense over three weeks in St. Joseph, MO. On one side, you've got the incumbents, Demorrio Williams and Corey Mays. On the other side, you've got fan-favorite Derrick Johnson and undrafted free agent Jovan Belcher.
If you ask the fans, they'd want the latter on the field at 9:15 p.m. on Sept. 13. 72% of respondents in our last poll predicted DJ and Belcher would be the winners. The Chiefs can mix things up with their inside linebackers but several weeks of OTAs saw each pair line up together.
Former Chiefs great Gary Spani appeared on 810 WHB this morning talking about the 3-4 defense and the need for speed.
"You have to have speed to play in that defense," he told Steven St. John and Nate Bukaty on the Border Patrol. "No one knows where anyone is coming from. If you have some lock down corners that can play, and you can put them on islands, you can really create havoc. I'm excited to see the 3-4 continue to be established here."
Spani played inside linebacker in the 3-4 back in the day. The good news is that the Chiefs appear to have the beginnings of those shutdown corners. Brandon Flowers is turning into a guy you can put on an island and forget about, which as Rex Ryan will tell you is very important.
As for the most important part of the 3-4, Spani said, "You gotta play fast. The good news is when I look at our inside linebackers, we're all pretty fast or we play fast. What I mean is that they're actually fast or they have the instnct to get there fast. To me, it's all about angles and leverage, and if you can take the right angle, you can play fast. I think all our guys can do that."
I remember when Zach Thomas first came to the Chiefs last year he predicted this would be DJ's best scheme and it would allow him to use his speed to attack the quarterback. We haven't quite seen that yet but, if Spani is correct, the Chiefs inside linebackers have the ability to do so.
It's just a matter of putting it all together.