In the trenches


Texans defensive end Gary Walker is ready to see plenty of red this Sunday.

Strong, loud, sweaty red.

It would appear the Kansas City Chiefs offensive linemen wear the color well.

Walker, a 10-year veteran, has seen plenty of high quality lines over the years. So, the Chiefs boast of two nine-time Pro Bowlers in tackle Willie Roaf and guard Will Shields doesn't impress him much.

"We've got the best defensive line here. That's all I'm saying," declared Walker. "You play good offensive linemen every week in this league. We've got a good defensive line. I'll take our guys against anybody. Let's go."

The pressure is on the Texans to improve the pass rush after tallying three sacks in the first two games and having problems getting off the field on third down.

The defensive line may only be three of 11 players in the Texans 3-4 defense, but Walker, defensive tackles Jerry Deloach and Seth Payne and defensive end Robaire Smith will be called upon early and often against the Chiefs line.

When they need a break, it's up to the reserves – Corey Sears and Junior Ioane.

"It's a lot of pressure. To be a pass rusher you have to want to get to the quarterback on third down," Sears said. "If you don't get there you have to start to play all over again."

Perhaps Smith said it best a few weeks ago when asked how he gets a killer instinct on every play. He said it just isn't funny anymore when you're lining up across from a 300-pound man wanting to push you around.

That makes the Chiefs offensive line even tougher.

Roaf, Shields, guard Brian Waters, center Casey Wiegmann and tackle John Welbourn weight a combined 1,553 pounds.

The stats are more staggering.

The linemen have a combined 44 years of experience and have allowed a combined 106 sacks. That may sound like a lot, but the Chiefs were second in the league last season in fewest sacks allowed (21).

Roaf gives up about four sacks a season. Shields allows three.

"Roaf and Shields are good linemen," Walker said. "The thing about it they've been together for a while. When you get a group of guys that have played together two or three years, who know how everybody plays, they're going to be good and they've got experience."

The line has played together for many games and is a main reason why the Chiefs have been one of the most prolific scoring threats in league history over the past two seasons.

Texans head coach Dom Capers described them as "smart, physical and solid pass protectors."

Running back Priest Holmes is averaging over five yards per carry this season and 1,420 yards and a league-record 27 touchdowns in 2003.

"We like the fact that we're averaging 5.4 yards per rush," Kansas City head coach Dick Vermeil said. "Priest has had two of his longest runs in the first two games. What did Priest tell us he wanted to do? He wanted to rush for 2,000 yards and make more long runs. He's a man of his word. Now, we've got to get him healthy so he can keep doing it. It's also a reflection that the offensive line is still blocking the run pretty good."

With numbers and confidence like that it's no wonder defenses across the league have seen plenty of red even after the busses leave Arrowhead Stadium. Walker just wants to show the Texans have made the necessary adjustments.

He's ready to switch up the colors.

"We'll get it done," he said.

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