Five position battles of Chief concern

RIVER FALLS, Wis. -- With so much youth (highlighted by 27 rookies) in their training camp, it makes perfect sense that the Kansas City Chiefs have some positions up for grabs. Here are five worth noting:

1. Rebuilding the D-line

The Chiefs' defensive line has gone through some major shuffling.

After the departure of right end Jared Allen to the Minnesota Vikings, the Chiefs moved Tamba Hali from the left side to the right, where he would figure to have a clearer path to the quarterback because most opposing offenses run to the opposite side.

First-round draft pick Glenn Dorsey took over as the starter at right tackle for Alfonso Boone, who moved to left end. However, recently, Turk McBride has taken first-team repetitions at left end. Although McBride is relatively light at 278 pounds, he has shown good quickness off the ball and gives the Chiefs a better pass rusher from that side than they had in Boone.

Left tackle Ron Edwards is Kansas City's only defensive lineman in the same spot he was last year.

2. Insurance behind LJ

The most intense battle has been for the backup running back spots behind Larry Johnson.

Rookie Jamaal Charles, a third-round draft pick, opened camp No. 4 on the depth chart. But he appears to have zoomed to No. 2, largely because of his world-class speed. Charles also has shown that he can catch the ball well out of the backfield and, despite his smallish (5-foot-11, 199 pounds) frame, he is an extremely willing blocker.

Jackie Battle, who previously had been in the No. 2 role, seems to have lost some ground after a strong start to camp. Kolby Smith has been solid and rookie Dantrell Savage has caught the attention of coach Herman Edwards with his kick-return skills.

3. Linebacker issues

The linebacker position is mostly in a state of flux, especially with veteran Donnie Edwards sidelined with a hamstring injury. After a fairly slow start to camp, backup Demorrio Williams has performed well enough to perhaps become Edwards' permanent replacement on the outside.

Outside linebacker Derrick Johnson is the only member of the group who is an unquestioned starter.

4. Looking for WR depth

There is some fairly good competition for receiver spots after starters Dwayne Bowe and Devard Darling.

Will Franklin, a fourth-round draft pick, has emerged as the leading candidate to fill the slot role. He is consistently lining up at that position in practice and performing consistently well.

Camp: River Falls, Wis.

Preseason games:
Aug. 7: Chiefs 24, Bears 20
Aug. 16: Arizona, 8 p.m. ET

Aug. 23: at Miami, 7:30 p.m. ET

Aug. 28: St. Louis, 7 p.m. ET

Jeff Webb and Maurice Price have regularly worked with the No. 2 offense, although Price has impressed coaches with his blazing speed.

5. Picking a kicker

The Chiefs went through three placekickers last season. None are in camp this year.

The candidates to fill the job are Nick Novak and Connor Barth. They have done well kicking field goals in practice, with each connecting on more than 80 percent of their attempts. However, neither has a particularly strong leg and both tend to come up woefully short on kickoffs.

It has been suggested by some camp observers, only partly in jest, that Edwards might end up making his choice with a coin flip.

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