Disappointing Player Still In Chiefs’ Plans


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Jan 22, 2006
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Bell hasn’t tolled for linebacker
He has survived cuts and is expected to help pass rush
The Kansas City Star
As the Chiefs went through their roster with a carving knife this week looking for places to pare their overextended payroll, they found four players — but not last year’s free-agent disappointment.

That, as any frustrated Chiefs fan would confirm, would be outside linebacker Kendrell Bell. Between missing most of the offseason work and training camp because of injuries and failing to have an impact in the regular season, Bell became a symbol for all that went wrong with the Chiefs.

But Bell’s name wasn’t on the list of Thursday cuts and won’t be on one Sunday if the Chiefs need to make more moves to comply with the NFL’s salary cap.

He will come through the whole thing without a scratch other than the contract restructure that stripped him of his scheduled $3.5 million roster bonus.

Not only that, but Chiefs coach Herm Edwards and defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham are planning a bigger role for Bell next season. They want him to be a hand-on-the-ground, rush end in passing situations to pair with Jared Allen.

Even if that doesn’t work out, it’s clear the Chiefs haven’t given up on him.

“The prototype of what I’m looking for in that spot is Kendrell Bell,” Cunningham said. “He fits into that mold. I’m not backing away from that. He is everything that any coach on defense would ever want athletically and abilitywise. Now he’s got to get the system down.

“We’re going to blitz him more and do other things with him.”

Bell, who will turn 28 in July, was a strong pass rusher as an inside linebacker in the Steelers’ 3-4 defensive system during his first three seasons in the league. A 6-foot-1, 245-pounder out of Georgia, he had 18 sacks during 2001-03 before missing most of 2004 because of a groin injury.

It never happened for Bell in his first season in Kansas City. A balky shoulder wouldn’t allow him much practice time in training camp or preseason. He started in the regular season but had only 1 1/2 and wasn’t much of a presence against the run.

“If you get a guy from a 3-4 system and put him in a new (4-3) system and change teams, that’s always difficult for a player,” Edwards said. “All of a sudden he’s trying to learn things in a system that’s entirely different. He was nicked a little bit, too. That doesn’t help. All of those things were a factor.

“Hopefully we can get him going because he’s an impact player. He’s done that. You’re not hoping he can do it. He’s done that before and you’ve got to try to get him to play to that level again.

“That’s going to be our task.”

Using Bell as a rush end in obvious passing situations could be one way to do it. Cunningham had the idea last season but had Bell do it only a handful of times.

“In the Cincinnati game, he had a couple of really good rushes,” Cunningham said. “That’s what he did at Pittsburgh. But because his shoulder wasn’t 100 percent all the time, I was concerned, so we didn’t use him as that.

“That’s what he does really well. People don’t know what this guy has done. He’s very explosive. He told me the other day he was healthy enough to do it, and that really excites me. If he’s healthy, that really puts a lot more speed on our front line to get to the quarterback.”

Bell, who was not available for comment Friday, was one of four defensive starters imported by the Chiefs last season at Cunningham’s urging to help improve their defense. Linebacker Derrick Johnson, cornerback Patrick Surtain and safety Sammy Knight played well enough to justify their starting spots.

Cunningham is planning on Bell making an impact this time around.

“He wants to be a dynamic player here,” Cunningham said. “I really believe that. I feel that in him every day. If you’re going to be a good coach in this league, you’ve got to feel a player’s heart. I know what he wants to do. I’m one of those guys where if you show me that, I’ll do everything I can on my end.”

■ SIAVII PUNISHMENT: Chiefs defensive tackle Junior Siavii was ordered to perform 80 hours of community service for assaulting a doorman last Aug. 14 at a Minneapolis hotel, according to the Star-Tribune in Minneapolis.

Siavii, 27, pleaded guilty to a charge of causing fifth-degree “assault fear.”

“Assault fear,” a misdemeanor, means conduct that would put a reasonable person in fear of injury.

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