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Dixon’s AP mailbag: Mahomes’ backup, best of TV, and Sorensen and Hill coming back

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What’s on the minds of AP readers during the holiday week?

Chargers at Chiefs John Sleezer/Kansas City Star/MCT via Getty Images

Welcome to Dixon’s Arrowhead Pride Mailbag, where I’ll do my best to answer your questions about the Kansas City Chiefs — and anything else that’s on your mind. If you have a question, you can hit my profile page to e-mail me, or ask me on Twitter.

While you’re at it, please follow me on Twitter, too.

On to your questions — which this week come to you from beautiful Dubuque, Iowa, where I am helping my sister prepare to move back to the Kansas City area:

I used to really liked the 90’s Sunday Night Football with Mike Patrick, Paul Maguire, and Joe Theisman in the booth. I haven’t been excited about Monday Night football announcers for quite some time. Curious... who ranks as your all-time favorite NFL television commentary pair (or group)?

— Mark

Thanks for an interesting question, Mark.

There are exceptions, but most people spend their lives listening to the kind of music that was popular in their adolescent years. I think it’s much the same with TV personalities and sports commentators; it’s not so much that announcer X and color commentator Y were the best of all time but rather that they defined “the best” for people of a certain age group.

So for me — growing up with NBC telecasts of AFL games — Curt Gowdy and Al DeRogatis set the standard by which all others are judged. But there have been some greats since then.

I never cease to be amazed by the consummate skill of Al Michaels when he’s paired with anybody for any sport. From “Do you believe in miracles? as the United States knocked off the Soviet Union to win the 1980 Olympic gold medal in men’s hockey to his amazing coverage of the Loma Prieta earthquake that kicked off (and kicked over) Game 3 of the 1989 World Series between the Oakland A’s and the San Francisco Giants, Michaels has always known the right thing to say and do.

For the latter, Michaels won an Emmy for news coverage. For the former, Michaels won a place in the heart of every American who watched the game in Lake Placid, New York, on February 22, 1980 — which is to say damn near every American.

And it was Michaels on the call — along with Frank Gifford and Dan Dierdorf — for one of the greatest victories in Chiefs history: the last-second win in Mile High Stadium against the Denver Broncos on October 17, 1994, which happened five years to the day from the night Michaels had seamlessly switched to news coverage during the 1989 World Series telecast.

“It is caught for a touchdown by Davis! Willie Davis! Unbelievable!” Michaels screamed as Davis hauled in Joe Montana’s pass with 13 seconds left in the game. But on that night, Dierdorf followed it with the line to remember: “Lord, you can take me now. I have seen it all.”

For the current generation, Tony Romo may prove to be the gold standard of color commentators. Personable, extremely knowledgeable and well-spoken, he has the right mix of skills to be one of the greatest ever — even if he’s embarrassing your defensive coordinator during the telecast.

Hard to believe that you have an AOL email address. Who makes the Chiefs squad behind Patrick Mahomes?

— Kenny

Thanks for asking, Kenny.

Chad Henne... and Chad Henne.

Look... we’ve seen this movie before. Head coach Andy Reid always wants an experienced veteran backup for his quarterback. Henne fits that bill. The Chiefs aren’t going to pay one bit of attention to the $2.5 million they could save against the salary cap by cutting Henne and putting Chase Litton in as Mahomes’ backup this season. From their perspective, Henne will be cheap at the price.

And I also think that just like last season, the Chiefs will only carry two quarterbacks on the active roster. Litton will be the third quarterback, but he is most likely to be on the practice squad.

The Chiefs will be able to do this because if — God forbid — both Mahomes and Henne are knocked out of a game, Travis Kelce (or perhaps John Lovett) will be able to serve as (true) emergency quarterbacks. The Chiefs would then bring Litton up for the following week, and move on.

Roster spots are valuable. If they can, the Chiefs would rather use one for another player who can help them elsewhere instead of on a third quarterback.

The only thing that could put Litton on the active roster as the third quarterback is the possibility he could shine very brightly in preseason action — which would increase the possibility he could be poached from the practice squad by another term in sudden need of a quarterback. So expect the Chiefs to be careful about showing too much of Litton in the preseason.

As for the AOL e-mail address, Kenny... I’m old-fashioned that way. Make fun of me if you like, but I’m one of the few people I know who’s had the same e-mail address for 25 years. To my way of thinking, you can’t put a price on that.

Seems a lot of folks think Daniel Sorensen doesn’t fit Spagnuolo’s new scheme and will be gone. I’ve always liked his blue-collar play and nose for the ball. If he’s an ill-fit for safety in the new defense, could he conceivably play weakside linebacker? Dorian O’Daniel seems to be the name we hear there, and that’s great. But Sorensen is only about 15 pounds lighter, with sideline-to-sideline mobility, and could be some nice depth. Maybe making too much money for a backup?

— Clark

One of the sure signs of the offseason are Chiefs fans discussing whether Sorensen will be gone when the season begins. So thanks for bringing it up, Clark.

I get it: few people see Sorensen as a top-flight NFL safety. On that basis, the yearly discussions about his ability (and salary) make sense. And one of these seasons, the doubters will be right: Sorensen will be gone.

But I’m not prepared to think this is going to be the season where that happens. Why? Because of Chiefs special teams coach Dave Toub.

There’s a reason Toub always has top-tier special teams units. Yes... he’s had a great punter to work with on the Chiefs, and has identified and developed some terrific kick returners in his career. And now (at long last) he’s finally found a placekicker he believes will be the long-term answer for the Chiefs.

But Toub is successful not just for those reasons, but for yet another: he is believed to have a substantial say in how the Chiefs roster is constructed every season. Most special teams coaches have to make do with scraps — third-string players from the other units. And make no mistake: Toub has to do that, too; it’s just a hard reality of the NFL.

But we also believe that Toub — aside from his specialists — is allowed one or two players of his own. Players like Sorensen — hard-nosed guys who don’t care about the limelight — are best-suited for Toub to use as the core of his special teams units.

So in the end, it may not matter a lot whether Sorensen fits in Spagnuolo’s plans. But on the other hand, we cannot predict precisely how Spagnuolo might see Sorensen’s role as a contributor to his defense; I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if Sorensen finds one — even if it’s in a little-used sub-package.

To me, that all adds up to Sorensen again being a member of the Chiefs in 2019. But we’ll see.

Tyreek Hill posted a video of himself working out today and he doesn’t look as ripped as he was last year. Is that a concern?

— Jeff

That kind of thing is always a concern, Jeff. Appreciate the question.

Unfortunately, Hill isn’t the only NFL player who’s ever had to begin his offseason program with a cloud of uncertainty over his head. It’s doubtful he will be the last, either.

You’re never going to get me to say that players don’t derive benefit from being in on the process right from the very beginning of the offseason program. Today’s schemes are too complicated to expect players to jump in at some point in the middle and still thrive in the following season.

And yet... we do see it happen.

In the final analysis, there’s nothing we can do about it. Whether it’s fair or not, Hill is in this situation, and he and the Chiefs are going to have to make the best of it. I believe Hill has enough natural physical talent to overcome much of this adversity, but whether he can mentally move forward from this situation remains to be seen.