KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Chiefs placed tight end Tony Moeaki on season-ending injured reserve Saturday after he was hurt during their preseason finale against the Green Bay Packers, depriving quarterback Matt Cassel of one of his most dependable targets entering the regular season.
The Chiefs took a different approach than most teams during the preseason, playing their starters sparingly early on to guard against injuries after the NFL lockout wiped out a normal offseason. The first-team unit then played into the second half against the Packers, while most teams used the final preseason game largely to rest their regulars. Several players were banged up in the game, including Moeaki, who limped off the field with what's believed to be a knee injury.
Moeaki's loss is a significant blow to the defending AFC West champions.
The tight end caught 47 passes for 556 yards and three touchdowns last season, giving the Chiefs the kind of receiving threat off the line of scrimmage that Tony Gonzalez provided for so many years. Now they'll count on Leonard Pope, Jake O'Connell and Anthony Becht to fill that role.
The Chiefs kept journeyman Tyler Palko and fifth-round draft pick Ricky Stanzi to back up Cassel at quarterback. It's still possible that general manager Scott Pioli will sift through the waiver wire to find a veteran who can serve as the backup when the season starts Sept. 11 against the Buffalo Bills.
"I reserve the right -- as we always do -- that if there's guys we think that fit with what we're trying to do and create competition, we'll be on it," Haley said early last week.
There were few surprises among those the Chiefs cut.
Perhaps the biggest was at wide receiver, where they let go of Jeremy Horne, Zeke Markshausen and Verran Tucker. That allowed the team to keep Terrance Copper and Keary Colbert, who emerged as the feel-good story of training camp. Colbert spent last season as a coach at USC, his alma mater, and earlier this summer signed with the Sacramento Mountain Lions of the United Football League.
Colbert hasn't played in the NFL since 2008, when he bounced through Denver, Seattle and Detroit. The former second-round draft pick has 121 catches for 1,540 yards in his career.
Colbert gives the Chiefs some depth at wide receiver behind Dwayne Bowe, Jerheme Urban and Steve Breaston. First-round pick Jonathan Baldwin missed almost all of the preseason after getting into a locker-room altercation with running back Thomas Jones, which left the receiver with a heavy bandage on his right thumb. It's unclear when Baldwin will be able to play.
The Chiefs also cut offensive linemen Darryl Harris and Butch Lewis, who were fighting for backup jobs. The team decided to stick with Jared Gaither as the backup tackle and Rodney Hudson as the backup guard after putting veteran Ryan O'Callaghan on IR earlier in the week.
The only undrafted rookie who made the team was defensive end Brandon Bair.
Amon Gordon was another defensive lineman who made the team after impressing the staff during fall camp. He was a late addition to the roster and survived the cut after making the most of the extra reps he received while defensive tackle Anthony Toribio was out with an injury.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press