McCluster Honored, Chiefs Focused And More from The Mothership
Prior to Wednesday's practice, McCluster's locker was surrounded by reporters, who asked him about the highlight return.
"I watched it probably 500 times already," McCluster said. "I laughed, because I didn't remember that spin move, but obviously it worked. I had some great blocking and some great individual effort and got in the end zone."
On the season, McCluster has 11 receptions for 106 yards, to go along with one kick return and 16 punt returns, including the 89-yard jaw-dropping score from Sunday.
Running back Jamaal Charles missed practice because of blisters on his feet, while safety Kendrick Lewis sat out because of a sprained ankle. Both played in the Chiefs' 31-7 win over the Giants on Sunday, unlike cornerback Brandon Flowers and third-round rookie tight end Travis Kelce, who have knee injuries. Right tackle and No. 1 overall pick Eric Fisher missed practice after suffering a concussion during the first half of Sunday's game.
In addition to the four starters who sat out Wednesday, several more starters were limited in practice, including guard Jeff Allen (groin) and tight end Anthony Fasano (ankle/knee), who did not play against the Giants. Guard Jon Asamoah (knee), center Rodney Hudson (shin), punter Dustin Colquitt (knee) and tight end Sean McGrath (knee) all played against the Giants and are new additions to the injury report.
"Girls with nice legs wear short shorts because they want to flaunt their legs," McGrath said. "I've got something beautiful with this. Why not flaunt it, you know? Grow that thing out."
But if McGrath's jokes about his unusual beard are a reflection of his sense of humor, the fact his facial hair has even become a topic of conversion - as evidenced by the smattering of fans who wore fake beards to the Chiefs' 31-7 win over the Giants on Sunday - is an indication of how well his short tenure with the Chiefs has gone so far.
"He's consistent, there's nothing real flashy," said Chiefs coach Andy Reid. "He's just a good, solid, consistent football player."
One who has stepped up in a huge way at a crucial position during the Chiefs' 4-0 start, all the while displaying the kind of consistency and professionalism from a player who has admittedly grown up quite a bit over the years.
Eric Berry: Chiefs To "Keep Building Off Of 4-0 Start" from The Motherhship
"We're very excited," Berry said. "We felt pretty good, going into the game, but we just have to keep working though. It's a great feeling, but we're just going to keep building on top of this; we'll see what we can do next week."
Berry was part of the Chiefs defense that allowed just one early score by the Giants in Sunday's 31-7 win.
"Everybody steps up in the secondary," Berry said. "We have players, who are back-ups, but they're really starters and you're a starter, when you get on the field; that's our mentality. We just went out there and played ball. Everybody in our secondary, we compete and we talk about that every day. Next man up and that's how we go, each week."
In his fourth NFL season, the versatile McCluster, who also had five receptions in the game, has been going about everywhere on the field in first-year coach Andy Reid's offensive scheme, so much so that Reid is trying to hold himself back from "overloading" him.
"You get to a point where you have him so many different places because you're a coach -- you're not having to play the game, and that not reality," Reid said, smiling. "It's got to make sense to the player, where they're at, why they're there.
"He's a very intelligent kid and works his tail off, but I'm trying to be careful with exactly how many spots we put him in. There's only so many places ... you can function with."
Holthus is by nature upbeat and optimistic, so maybe it's no surprise that he sees the new regime this way.
But perhaps it's his points of contrast that are most telling, starting with how he views the rejuvenated crowds at Arrowhead Stadium.
Being there a year ago, he said, "felt like going back to your old home, and it had all gone up to weeds, and termites were eating it. That's the analogy I would give. And now you're going back, and ‘Extreme Makeover's' been there. That's what it feels like."
That was just the most obvious manifestation of the depths of the distress and rot, which Holthus struggled to cope with.
KCChiefs.com Video: Chiefs Brief: Week 5
KCChiefs.com Video: Alex Smith: "Tennessee Will Be A Good Test For Us"
KCChiefs.com Video: Andy Reid Wednesday Press Conference
KCChiefs.com Video: Behind The Pom Poms: Chiefs Cheerleader Jillian
NFL.com Video: 'Sound FX': Eric Berry
"Both of them are really fast," Reid said of Charles and Johnson. "I mean really fast.
"Our defense doesn't necessarily prepare for Jamaal (each week) but they do in camp, so they know what it's like. And they see (Charles) in practice every day. It's a challenge for them."
Johnson, too, presents a scary challenge, though he is off to a rather pedestrian start by his standards.
Chiefs QB Alex Smith Making Dorsey Gamble Pay Off from The Associated Press via FS Kansas City
He didn't throw a ball into an impossibly tight space, or tempt double coverage and get picked off. He didn't stumble around as his offensive line caved in around him, or get chased around by a couple of New York Giants before finally succumbing to a sack.
Instead, Smith remained unflappable under pressure, exuding the kind of poise that infects an entire offense. More than once he scrambled for first downs last Sunday, giving the Chiefs the spark they needed for a 31-7 victory and their first 4-0 start in a decade.
Flavors Of The Month from MMQB
No one foresaw the Kansas City Chiefs and Tennessee Titans entering October with a combined record of 7-1. There is a common thread hallmarking these early success stories, who also happen to square off Sunday in Nashville. It's defensive play that is both vigorous and well-styled for today's NFL.
Each defense is under new leadership. Andy Reid, shortly after being hired by Kansas City, wisely chose to keep the defense's 3-4 foundation intact, tapping longtime New York Jets assistant Bob Sutton as his coordinator. In Tennessee, defensive coordinator Jerry Gray was retained despite the Titans allowing the most points in football last season. But some of Gray's duties were shifted when the team hired former Saints coordinator Gregg Williams, fresh off his Bountygate suspension, as a senior defensive assistant.
Sutton and Williams inherited two of the league's more vanilla defenses and have seasoned them for a flavor that even Emeril Lagasse would envy. Let's examine four key ingredients.
Kansas City At Tennessee from CBS Sports
There are plenty of reasons why the Chiefs only should look forward. A win Sunday would make Kansas City the first team to win its first five games the season after winning two or fewer contests.
"The team is totally in, the coaches, the players," Bowe said. "It's all a family right now. We're a family organization. On all three sides of the ball we're doing good."
Kansas City has scored 26 or more points in three of four contests after doing so twice in 2012.
QB Watch: Chiefs' Alex Smith from ESPN
The two interceptions against the Giants weren't Smith's fault. On the first one, Dwayne Bowe ran a lazy slant route and allowed the Giants cornerback to beat him to the ball. On the second, Smith's throw was slightly behind Jamaal Charles and Charles deflected the ball into the air. He accidentally kicked it on his way to the ground and it then went into the possession of a Giants defender.
Johnson, Chiefs Defenders Working Every Day from The Andalusia Star-News
For the first three regular season games, Nico Johnson waited for his turn to make his NFL debut.
Last week, the Andalusia native got his chance as he played on special teams for Kansas City in the Chiefs' 31-7 rout over the New York Giants.
Johnson spoke with a team reporter recently and said a standard was set by the veterans a while back.
The goal now is to keep living up to that standard, he said.
Terry Blount: Call KC's McGrath What You Will, Especially TE1 from The Topeka Capital-Journal
This week McGrath has a nice matchup against a Titans defense that has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to the tight end position in 2013 (12.9 fantasy points per game). As of this writing, the health statuses of Fasano and Kelce are unknown, but even if they can answer the Week 5 bell, I don't believe the Chiefs will quit going to McGrath. This guy is catching everything quarterback Alex Smith throws his way.
Studs & Duds: Eagles 'D' Can Be The Cure For What Ails Eli from USA Today
QB Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs: Smith's latest step forward was his 288-yard, three-touchdown Week 4. However, that was against the sieve-like Giants. The Tennessee Titans have permitted an average of just 240.5 yards through the air. Smith should fall back to his "safety before excellence" game.
The big winner of the week was obviously cornerback Marcus Cooper, who went from playing one defensive snap against Philadelphia to a whopping 56 against New York. If you read Monday's paper, you already know he did pretty well, too.
10 Thoughts At The NFL's Quarter Mark from MMBQ
Keyshawn Johnson went out on a limb at the start of the season by picking the Chiefs to make the Super Bowl. Now, what seemed like an outlandish prediction has much more legitimacy after Kansas City's 4-0 start. What did the ESPN analyst see that most others did not? "If you start winning, players buy into it and I felt the Chiefs had the potential to start winning early based on the additions of Andy Reid and Alex Smith and because the schedule was very favorable for them to open the season," Johnson says. "They also have a lot of talented players. If you look at the rest of the AFC, it's wide open. Denver and New England are playing well but Houston is struggling. Indianapolis is still relatively young and there are other teams like Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati that are down. I think they've got a shot."
Road To MetLife: Week 5 Cheat Sheet from CBS Sports
Kansas City at Tennessee: Go back to August. Who circled Chiefs-Titans as one of the NFL's biggest games in Week 5? Again, I love it. Tennessee's the real deal. I'm not certain Ryan Fitzpatrick for Jake Locker isn't an upgrade. This game will be won at the line of scrimmage. I'll take Tennessee's offensive and defensive lines over just about every other one in the league.
The Pick: Titans 27, Chiefs 23
Week 5 Fantasy Fact Sheet from CBS Sports
• Ryan Fitzpatrick will start against a Chiefs defense that has yet to allow a 20-point quarterback this year despite facing the likes of Michael Vick, Tony Romo and Eli Manning.
• This will be an epic battle between a Titans team that has given up just 5.25 Fantasy points per game to opposing Fantasy defenses -- second fewest in the league -- and the No. 1 Fantasy defense of the Chiefs. My money is on the Chiefs staying red hot.
Cover-Two: Quarter-Mark Awards from Sports Illustrated
Burke: Justin Houston, Chiefs. OK, so J.J. Watt's on pace for another Defensive Player of the Year award - and he deserves to be, given his start. But Houston deserves some acclaim for his part in a 4-0 start. He's leading the league with 7.5 sacks on Kansas City's improved defense.
Farrar: Dontari Poe, Chiefs. Yes, Houston is racking up sacks at an incendiary rate, but without Poe stoning offensive linemen over and over at the nose tackle position, neither Houston nor Tamba Hali would be nearly as effective. Poe also gets the nod for his ability to penetrate double teams on an alarmingly regular basis.
Examining NFL's Endangered Species from ESPN
The receiving tight end has become a dominant force in the game. New England's Rob Gronkowski, San Francisco's Vernon Davis, Dallas' Jason Witten and New Orleans' Jimmy Graham abuse hapless defenders. Those players have been so good that the tight end who excels mainly at blocking has become far less common. Some of that can be attributed to the rise of spread offenses. Another aspect, as noted by Kansas City Chiefs tight end Anthony Fasano, one of the best blockers in the league at his position, is timing.
Handing Out The NFL's Quarter-Season Awards from Grantland
I think it's a dead heat between Andy Reid and Sean Payton. It's hard to argue against picking any head coach who has managed to double his team's win total from the previous year before October 1, and Reid has done a phenomenal job in building an offense that fits his roster while getting the most out of his talented core of defensive players. Kansas City's offensive line is playing well (besides, perhaps, first overall pick Eric Fisher), and the Chiefs have become a dangerously efficient team in the vein of the 2011 49ers.
Start 'Em, Sit 'Em: Running Backs For Week 5 from NFL.com
Owners beware -- Chris Johnson vs. Kansas City Chiefs: There is a good chance you can't afford to sit Johnson during the bye weeks, but owners with backfield depth should at least consider it. He's just 26th in fantasy points among running backs, and this week's opponent, the Chiefs, have allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to running backs.
Chris Ault Is Gone From UNR, But Not From Football from The Las Vegas Review Journal
At least four NFL teams offered him a job...
...The Packers have Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, and he's pretty good, too. But Aaron Rodgers ain't runnin' no Pistol. And so Chris Ault did a discount double check. He accepted Andy Reid's offer with Kansas City, because the Chiefs had signed the guy the Kaepernick kid had beaten out in San Francisco.
Chris Ault thought Alex Smith was tailor-made for the Pistol and for generally getting outside the passing pocket like the college QBs do - like Smith did at Utah when he helped Urban Meyer land the Florida job.
And so now the Chiefs are 4-0.