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The two-deep: defense and specialists

Earlier we looked at the depth chart for the offense of the Kansas City Chiefs. Now let’s look at where they stand on defense and with their specialists in the kicking game.

Defensive end

Starters: Mike DeVito, Vance Walker; Backups: Allen Bailey, Mike Catapano. Others: Chas Alecxih, Risean Broussard, Dominique Hamilton, Jaye Howard. The Chiefs signed Walker as a free agent from the Oakland Raiders as a replacement for the departed Tyson Jackson. He might be able to provide more as a pass-rusher. That is something the Chiefs need. DeVito is much better as a run defender.

Nose tackle

Starter: Dontari Poe; Backup: Cory Grissom. Poe was a Pro Bowler last season and came out of the lineup so infrequently that the Chiefs didn’t really need a backup. Unless the Chiefs add another player here, that could be the case again. Grissom is a developmental player.

Inside linebacker

Starters: Derrick Johnson, Joe Mays; Backups: Nico Johnson, James-Michael Johnson. Other: Alonzo Highsmith. Derrick Johnson had another big season last year, but he will be 32 in November and the Chiefs will soon need to begin to think about a replacement. Mays, who once played for coach Andy Reid in Philadelphia, was signed as a free agent.

Outside linebacker

Starters: Tamba Hali, Justin Houston; Backups: Dezman Moses, Frank Zombo. Other: Josh Martin, Ridge Wilson. Hali and Houston combined for 22 sacks last season despite missing six games between them. Zombo played well as an injury replacement.

Cornerback

Starters: Brandon Flowers, Sean Smith; Backups: Marcus Cooper, Chris Owens; Others: Vernon Kearney, Ron Parker, Kevin Rutland, DeMarcus Van Dyke. It wouldn’t be an upset if the Chiefs drafted a cornerback in an early round. Flowers had perhaps his worst NFL season last year. Cooper and Owens provide good depth.

Safety

Starters: Eric Berry, Sanders Commings; Backups: Husain Abdullah, Jerron McMillian. Other: Malcolm Bronson. The starting free safety might not be on the roster yet, but the Chiefs like Commings. He was going to challenge for playing time as a rookie last year when a broken collarbone in the first practice of training camp ruined his season.

Specialists

Kicker: Ryan Succop; Punter: Dustin Colquitt; Long snapper: Thomas Gafford. Kick/punt returners: Knile Davis, Weston Dressler, Joe McKnight. Though it’s difficult to see anyone taking a job from Succop, Colquitt or Gafford, it’s possible the Chiefs bring in one or more return specialists after losing Dexter McCluster and Quintin Demps.