Chiefs trim roster to 53
The Chiefs were 13-3 last year and not expected to make many personnel changes when training camp opened. Instead, they will be packed with new and first-year players.
Their punter and placekicker will both be new, as will backups at a number of positions.
Andersen, the No. 2 scorer in NFL history, was beaten out by Lawrence Tynes, who starred the past two seasons in the Canadian Football League. Also new -- and a bit of a gamble -- will be punter Steve Cheek, who was acquired last week from Houston and punted well in his only exhibition game.
"It's risky," Vermeil said. "We don't know that much about (Cheek)."
The Chiefs tried unsuccessfully to trade Andersen and found several teams were interested. Andersen, 44, is No. 2 all-time with 2,259 points.
"But they knew he was going to be available, so they all decided to just take their chances with him as a free agent," said Chiefs president Carl Peterson.
The Chiefs are confident Andersen will end up in the league for a 23rd season.
"I am sure he will find a place," Vermeil said. "He could end up kicking against us."
Starting with defensive tackle Junior Siavii, the Chiefs kept their first five draft picks. Two undrafted free agents also made it, defensive back Bennie Sapp and wide receiver Richard Smith.
Defensive end Jared Allen, a supplemental fourth-round pick out of Division I-AA Idaho State, beat out veteran R-Kal Truluck, who was traded Sunday to Green Bay for a fifth-round and a sixth-round draft pick. Allen may also be the long snapper on punts.
Truluck tied for the team lead last year with five sacks.
"Overall, I'd like to believe we're a better team," said coach Dick Vermeil. "We've got to quit talking about it and start proving it."
In an unusual move, the Chiefs opted to keep their roster at 52 for the time being and leave a spot open for Kris Wilson, the versatile tight end who injured his knee Thursday night against Dallas. Wilson, a second-round pick out of Pittsburgh, made a great impression in the preseason and figured prominently in the offensive plans.
Vermeil said three pins were inserted into Wilson's leg in a procedure this week and he could be back within eight weeks.
"Pessimistically, 10 or 12 weeks," Vermeil said. "Right now we think he is a quality enough player, that if we're as good as we think we are that he could make us a better team the last five or six games of the season. Then if we're in the playoffs he could make a contribution to winning the playoff game."
The Chiefs, plagued by injuries to their wide receivers, kept rookies Samie Parker, a fourth-round pick out of Oregon, and Smith, an undrafted free agent from Arkansas who at times in the preseason was dazzling.
They're counting on veteran receiver Johnnie Morton to be ready for the opener Sunday night at Denver. Morton missed the entire preseason with an Achilles' tendon problem.
"You've got to trust him," Vermeil said, "when a veteran looks you right in the eye and says, `I'll be ready to play."
Maslowski, who set the team record with 162 tackles in 2002, will probably undergo another knee operation. The Chiefs are hopeful he will be available next year.
Also having their contracts terminated were cornerback Cliff Crosby and safety Lyle West.
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press
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