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Archive for Tuesday, December 13, 2005

DE Allen might snap for Chiefs

December 13, 2005

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— In Ed Perry's first game last month after replacing one of the league's great long-snappers, Kansas City tied an NFL field-goal record.

Two weeks later, fans are ready to ferry Perry down the Missouri River and find someone else to step in for injured Pro Bowler Kendall Gammon. And maybe the Chiefs are, too.

But instead of grabbing someone else off the street, they're thinking about turning to second-year defensive end Jared Allen. He's willing to give it the old college try, but he hasn't snapped in live action since he was in college in 2003. And one bad snap can be fatal for a team that needs to win its last three games to have much chance of reaching the playoffs.

"I might do it," coach Dick Vermeil said Monday. "I thought about it last week."

No one is saying it was Perry's fault the Chiefs (8-5) lost, 31-28, to Dallas on Sunday, dropping into a three-way tie with San Diego and Pittsburgh for the final AFC wild-card spot. The demoralizing loss left several key players with their heads down, including running back Larry Johnson, cornerback Patrick Surtain and linebacker Derrick Johnson.

But Perry, a former long-snapper for Miami, was guilty of a poor snap on the final play of the tense, back-and-forth game. And he's a lot easier to replace than a starting linebacker, cornerback or running back.

The snap, after the Chiefs had surged downfield in the final seconds, was low and inside. Although holder Dustin Colquitt managed to get the ball down, Lawrence Tynes' 41-yard attempt to send the game into overtime sailed wide-right.

Tynes had kicked four field goals in one quarter, tying an NFL mark, in Perry's first game on Nov. 27 against New England.

But Vermeil admitted Monday he had been concerned about Perry's consistency in practice.

"It isn't simple. It takes a lot of work," Vermeil said. "Kendall Gammon has done it as well as it's ever been done, probably. And we have a couple of other guys that can do it pretty good. They've just never made a living doing it."

Backup guard Chris Bober is another possibility. But Vermeil disclosed that all last week he had Allen practicing the long-snapping skills he developed at Idaho State.

One reason not to impose this additional burden on the 6-foot-6, 270-pounder, however, is that he already has a pretty important day job. He's the Chiefs' best pass-rusher. After recording nine sacks last season as a rookie, he has 10 in 13 games this year, including two against the Cowboys.

He also plays on special teams and does just about everything else but direct traffic into the stadium.

"He hasn't come out of a ballgame in three weeks," Vermeil said. "I'm not saying that's really what I want to do. But that's just how it's happened. And he's on the kickoff-return team, the wedge. I wanted to take him out of there the other day, and he wouldn't come out. He likes to play. Then add the responsibility of long-snapping, too? I don't know."

Ideally, long-snappers do very little else for a team. Gammon, who broke his leg Nov. 20 at Houston, was the ultimate specialist and universally acknowledged as one of the best ever.

Allen, as a defensive lineman, easily could get his hands cut and bruised during a game. It might not be anything to keep him from rushing the passer or making tackles. But it could be enough to prevent him from making the precise and delicately timed snap on a critical field goal.

"He's got his hands all taped up," Vermeil said. "You don't know when he's going to get his hand stepped on. Then all of a sudden you've got to go do it and you don't have another long-snapper suited up. Defensive linemen fight with their hands. There's all kinds of things - injury concerns, exposure to that kind of position, with your head down, your legs wide. He's your best pass rusher."

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