Battle Gone; More to come


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Jan 22, 2006
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Battle Gone; More to Come
Aug 11, 2006, 7:57:03 AM by Bob Gretz - FAQ

RIVER FALLS, WI – It will not go down as one of the more earth-shaking personnel moves in recent Chiefs history.

But the decision to release cornerback Julian Battle on Friday certainly caught the attention of his once fellow teammates.

And there will be more “surprises” in the coming days and weeks as Herm Edwards begins to pull out the weeds in the Chiefs roster.

“Just not good enough,” was Edwards’ reply when asked why Battle was released. “We did it now so he would have a better opportunity of catching on somewhere else.”

A spot was needed with the signing of quarterback Jeff Smoker, but there were others on the roster that could have been sent packing at this time. The decision to waive Battle was done to send the message that Edwards has stressed from Day One in Kansas City: he doesn’t want the players to feel too comfortable about their status.

Battle was one of those players who felt very comfortable. The Chiefs attempted to trade him on Friday. Actually, it’s the second time in the last few weeks they floated his name on the NFL grapevine hoping for a nibble. When they signed veteran cornerback Ty Law the week that training camp starters, Battle expressed his displeasure and asked to be traded.

They found no takers then, and none this week, so he was released.

The fact that Battle actually thought he was tradable was a symptom of his biggest problem: he thinks he’s good enough. Yet, the fourth-year pro has done nothing during his time with the Chiefs to show he could be a contributing player to the defense. His season last year was wiped out by an Achilles’ tendon injury in mini-camp. But he rehabbed and was at 100 percent through the off-season program and during two weeks of training camp.

Battle’s biggest problem was his lack of consistency. There have been times since he joined the Chiefs when he showed flashes of ability. Physically, he might be as gifted a cornerback as Dale Carter.

But the times when he displayed that ability were few and far between. He could not carry it from one play to another. Even in practice, he would handle coverage well on one play, then he would come back on the next play and completely forget about what he learned just 30 seconds earlier. Plus, he’s prone to penalties. Last Friday night in the practice against the Minnesota Vikings, on his first play of one-on-one pass coverage, he was flagged for holding by the NFL game officials who were working the affair.

Edwards isn’t going to put up with that type of inconsistency. That’s one of the major reasons that cornerback Eric Warfield was sent packing in the off-season. This defense is built on a foundation of strong, consistent fundamentals. Battle never figured that out.

His release is another defensive draft failure for the Chiefs. Battle was a third-round pick in 2003, a first-day choice and he joins recent first-day busts like DT Eric Downing (3rd-round, 2001), DT Eddie Freeman (2nd-round, 2002) and DT Junior Siavii (2nd-round, 2004), who remains missing in action in this training camp and could be the next weed pulled from the roster.

When Dick Vermeil was the head coach, his approach to player evaluation could be characterized as: we’ve seen you perform at least once, so we believe you have the ability to do it again and we’ll work with you to make that happen.

Edwards attitude is: do it once, then show me you can do it again, and again, and again, and then I’ll believe you can play.

Julian Battle never came close to achieving that performance level.

The opinions offered in this column do not necessarily reflect those of the Kansas City Chiefs.

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