In keeping with drive to get younger, Chiefs have 20 new players

KANSAS CITY -- The Kansas City Chiefs have 20 new players on their 53-man roster, a number that is written in sand.

It could change by the end of the week, said coach Herm Edwards, who is holding true to his vow to remake a veteran team that hasn't won a playoff game since the 1993 season.

While the roster is dotted with starters who are 30 or older, Edwards is confident his program is bearing fruit. As of Monday, the roster contained 11 first-year players, including third-team quarterback Tyler Thigpen, who was claimed off waivers.

"I first stood here (last December) and talked about it and now it's come to fruition," Edwards said. "That's where we're headed. We have a youthful group with a lot of energy and some veteran guys who provide leadership for us. It's a pretty good blend, and now we've got to put it all together. We set out our road map today for what we want to accomplish this season. It starts opening day on the road."

The best news on the first day of practice at the end of a winless preseason was on the offensive line. Left tackle Damion McIntosh, out for several weeks with a knee injury, was able to work. Whether he'll be ready for Sunday's opener at Houston remains in question. But his backup, Will Svitek, struggled, and the sooner he can get back, the better for an offense that had trouble moving the ball all summer.

McIntosh was signed as a free agent to shore up a position that was a problem all last year following the retirement of Pro Bowler Willie Roaf.

"I feel fine. I haven't had any setbacks," McIntosh said. "I want to get out there but I want to get out there at the right time."

The last thing he wants is to reinjure himself.

"I've got to put myself in the best situation," McIntosh said. "I can't rush it. I want to get out there but I've got to get out there at the right time. So they'll watch me, see how I feel with contact and everything and we'll go on from there."

He's not making any predictions for Sunday.

"This was the first day of practice," he said. "I'll see how it goes, see how I feel at the end of the week. Today I feel good. I don't know how I'll feel at the end of the week. We'll have pads on Wednesday and Thursday. After those days I'll have a better feel for where I'm at."

Edwards sounded a bit more optimistic about his left tackle.

"I just assume he's going to be ready," he said. "Will he have a full load? I don't know that yet, but we'll see how the week goes by. I'm planning that he's going to play."

The Chiefs announced that they had signed six players to their practice squad. They are guard Emmanuel Akah, defensive end Claude Harriott, fullback Gilbert Harris, defensive tackle T.J. Jackson, tackle Ramiro Pruneda and defensive end Khreem Smith.

Thigpen was signed to replace third-string quarterback Casey Printers, who was released Saturday.

He was selected by Minnesota in the seventh round but released. Kansas City had an interest in the 6-1, 233-pounder from Coastal Carolina during the draft.

"You're always playing poker," Edwards said. "They were actually trying to sneak him through on the practice squad. We kind of anticipated that, and it kind of worked out for us."

Kansas City also claimed cornerback Rashad Barksdale off waivers from Philadelphia

The 5-foot-11, 208-pound Barksdale was drafted this year in the sixth round. He played at Albany State, where he recorded 37 tackles and three interceptions in 10 games during his senior year.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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