Chiefs linebackers make impact versus Seahawks

Chiefs linebacker Dezman Moses went horizontal in pursuit of Seattle running back Alex Collins during a preseason game on Saturday, Aug. 13 in Kansas City, Mo. (Emily DeShazer/The Topeka Capital-Journal)
Chiefs linebacker Dezman Moses went horizontal in pursuit of Seattle running back Alex Collins during a preseason game on Saturday, Aug. 13 in Kansas City, Mo. (Emily DeShazer/The Topeka Capital-Journal)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid has little reason to worry after a 17-16 loss to the Seattle Seahawks in his team’s first preseason game.

“We’ll take some good things out of this and learn from them.” Reid said. “Our young guys will be a little bit better. I was happy with what our veterans did, our ones and twos. I thought they were efficient.”

It’s tricky to draw too many conclusions from preseason games, but the team’s defense showed why the Chiefs rank as playoff caliber. A combination of speed, strength and speed slowed the Seahawks much of the game, led by the team’s veteran linebacking crew.

The defense surrendered just three long field goals along with a Hail Mary touchdown and two-point conversion as time expired. The Seahawks mustered just 270 yards of total offense in the game’s first 59 minutes.

Linebacker Dezman Moses showed flashes of the team’s depth in the defensive front seven. His play single-handedly wreaked havoc with back-to-back Seattle drives in the second quarter. The fifth-year veteran finished with a tackle for a loss, two quarterback hurries and a pass defended.

“If you can’t get there as a rush then you got to obviously make an effect a different way, and that’s getting your hands on the ball,” Moses said of his pass defense. “That’s what I tried to do right there.”

The absence of Pro Bowl linebackers Justin Houston and Tamba Hali provide Moses with additional opportunities in both training camp and preseason games. Both players remain on the physically unable to perform list. The Chiefs expect Hali back by the beginning of the season but Houston could remain on the sidelines longer.

“They’re leaders in our room and they’re not here right now,” Moses said. “It’s our job to continue and make plays to affect the offense. For myself being in my fifth year, I feel like I’m definitely a leader and comfortable in the defense. If I can be out there and help any guy in anyway, that’s part of my job.”

Reid said Moses is a valuable role player for the team.

“He’s a physical kid, he’s got good hands is what he has,” Reid said. “He’s a good special teams player.”

Moses was part of the famous “second draft” of the Chiefs in 2013. Thanks to their league-worst record in 2012, the Chiefs held the first position in the waiver wire at the end of training camp. Essentially any player released by any other team could be claimed by the Chiefs.

The team picked up seven new players days before the season started. Moses is one of four key defensive players acquired that week, along with lineman Jaye Howard, safety Ron Parker and cornerback Marcus Cooper.

The team’s training camp competition at outside linebacker is intense. Filling in for Houston and Hali are Dee Ford and Frank Zombo. Also in camp are rookie Dadi Nicolas and free agents Andy Mulumba and Jonathan Massaquoi.
The six players practicing have consistently made plays in camp. Moses consistently runs with the second team behind Zombo at right outside linebacker opposite Mulumba.

Moses says he’s ready to continuing working hard to win playing time on a playoff defense.

“I have high expectations for myself this year,” Moses said. “I worked extremely hard this offseason preparing myself mentally and physically. For me it’s about taking that next step in my game.”

Only one player made Reid’s injury list following the game. Linebacker D.J. Alexander sustained a rib contusion while on punt coverage in the first half. He later returned to the game.

Cornerback Phillip Gaines and linebacker Josh Mauga did not play. The Chiefs are continuing to bring Gaines back slowly from knee surgery last season, and he continues practicing in training camp. Mauga is nursing a groin injury suffered during camp. Reid said Wednesday he is making progress.

In addition to Houston and Hali, running back Jamaal Charles remains on the PUP list. Safety Eric Berry has yet to report to camp.