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Kansas City Chiefs: Herman Edwards
Edwards loves to work the power ground game to wear down defenses, run clock and put the game in the hands of his defense. At times, he has been criticized for perhaps being too conservative in his approach. He relies heavily on a single-back offense and a short passing game with infrequent looks downfield. He'll need his running game to produce in a big way once again this year as he breaks in a new starting quarterback in second-year quarterback Brodie Croyle or turns back to longtime backup Damon Huard.
The basic approach to the game under Edwards will suit Larry Johnson just fine. Edwards works his tailback hard, which means Johnson's high carry total from 2006 will be matched if he's signed and ready to roll in Week 1. His adherence to a single-back system was called into question with the Jets in 2004 with LaMont Jordan anxiously awaiting his chance behind Curtis Martin. Martin responded with his first rushing title. Johnson will be spelled by veteran Michael Bennett, who was little-used in 2006, and some combination of rookie Kolby Smith and NFL Europe Co-MVP Derrick Ross. Ross is one to watch as camp unfolds, as he could shoot up into the backup role.
The offensive line has undergone a number of changes over the past several seasons, with injuries and retirements changing the complexion of the offense. The Chiefs will need this new unit to gel quickly, not only for the sake of Johnson, but also for the health and prosperity of the new quarterback tandem. The team continues to rely heavily on tight end Tony Gonzalez. He'll be the focal point for Croyle or Huard as the team seeks to find a consistent receiving target behind Eddie Kennison. Samie Parker is a deep threat and Dwayne Bowe has the goods to be a star in short order. Expect a heavy dose of the running game and short passes to start with an occasional shot downfield.
Who benefits? Tony Gonzalez, Larry Johnson, Eddie Kennison
Sleeper: Samie Parker
Past stars: Laveranues Coles, Curtis Martin, Santana Moss