O-line the Chiefs' unsung heroes

Posted Oct. 01, 2010 @ 9:14 a.m.
Posted By Michael Blunda

It has taken a team effort for the Chiefs to shockingly jump out to a 3-0 start, but observers can clearly point to a couple factors that have played a major role in their strong beginning. Offensively, it has been all about the running game.

Heading into their Week Four bye, the Chiefs' rushing attack ranks No. 1 in the NFL, gaining a terrific 160.7 yards per game. Much of the credit for that belongs to the running backs, Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles. Offensive coordinator Charlie Weis has figured out the best way to deploy both backs, and it has resulted in a diverse attack that has been difficult for opponents to defend. But the unsung heroes of the team's league-best running game have been the offensive linemen.

From what we hear, a group that was considered one of Kansas City's main weak points in recent seasons has quickly become a strength in 2010. And it hasn't just been OLT Branden Albert and OLG Brian Waters on the left side of the line, a portion of the unit the Chiefs expected to play well this year. It also has been guys like C Casey Wiegmann, who wrested a starting job away from Rudy Niswanger in the preseason. Although undersized at 6-2, 285 pounds, the 37-year-old has successfully stood his ground against much bigger defensive linemen.

"I am telling you that this is a special human being," head coach Todd Haley said about Wiegmann, a free-agent pickup this offseason. "He is something, and I am so happy that he is a part of our team."

The O-line has excelled even without starting ORT Ryan O'Callaghan, who hasn't played yet because of a groin injury. That has forced Barry Richardson, a sixth-round pick in 2008, into the lineup. Thus far, he has responded well.

"I talked about him some in camp in feeling like he was making progress and that his time would come and there would be an opportunity for him to show some of that progress," Haley said. "He is continuing to get better and that is the most important thing to me."

Add in stellar play from veteran ORG Ryan Lilja, and the Chiefs' line is suddenly a fairly stacked group. If they can continue getting a push up front and do a slightly better job keeping QB Matt Cassel upright, K.C.'s offense could be very tough to stop in the weeks ahead.