KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Chiefs roll out a new look on the offensive line when the 2014 regular season kicks off Sunday.
Rookie Zach Fulton is set as the starting right guard, recently signed Mike McGlynn starts at left guard and Jeff Allen moves to right tackle.
Allen, who started 27 games at left guard since the 2012 season, said Friday he’s ready to play his new position against the Tennessee Titans.
“It will be good to get back out there and get some good work against some good defensive ends,” Allen said.
The third-year pro takes the place of Donald Stephenson, who currently serves a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performing enhancing substances.
Allen, whom the Chiefs selected Allen in the second round as the 44th player overall of the 2012 NFL Draft, should be fine moving from left guard when considering his background.
The 6-4, 306 native of Chicago appeared in 49 games at the University of Illinois with 47 starts, nine coming at right tackle and 38 at left tackle.
His experience at the tackle position had coach Andy Reid feeling confident.
“People will tell you when he came out that was his natural position,” Reid said during his Friday post-practice media session. “Then we put him at guard, but he was good at guard. He’s doing well at tackle. I think he’s looking forward to testing it out here in the regular season.”
Chiefs rookies are set to have an inaugural experience with the raucous Arrowhead Stadium atmosphere.
Of course, cornerback Phillip Gaines, outside linebacker Dee Ford and wide receiver Albert Wilson, among others, played in two preseason games in front of the home crowd.
But fan attendance and noise during exhibition games pale in comparison to the regular season.
“I definitely heard stories,” Gaines said. “I’m just eager to hear how loud it’s going to be, especially for the first home opener.”
“I hear day in and day out how great the fans are,” he said. “It’s something I’m looking forward to that pushes me hard in practice for me to be able to play in front of that crowd.”
Hearing about it and being on the field when the noise level ratchets up a few notches are two different things, especially for any player not accustomed to playing in a large venue.
And that’s where some of the team veterans, such as cornerback Ron Parker, have offered advice.
“I tell everybody just to relax and just be yourself,” Parker said. “Go out there and have fun. The fans are going to make it interesting and fun. They’re going to be loud.”
Of course, the noise won’t affect Wilson as much as the defense once the opposing offense takes the field.
Parker said nonverbal communication will be critical between teammates.
“It’s going to be real important to use your hand signals when playing in loud stadiums,” he said, “especially on the defensive side. You have to get all your checks and alert somebody on the defense. Communication with hand signals is very key and big for us.”
And it appears that message is engrained in Gaines.
“You just have to know what you’re doing out there,” Gaines said. “Hand signals go a long way when you can get your communication out fast, you can play faster.
Meanwhile, Ford agreed the communication is critical on defense.
Ford, who played collegiately at Auburn, said some of the veterans have told him what to expect. But the former first-team All-SEC selection didn’t appear too concerned given some of his past college experiences, which includes playing in the the BCS National Championship game.
“It’s loud,” Ford said, “but they know that I’ve played within some pretty big games. A crowd is really not a factor to a player, especially (one) who played in the SEC.”
SQUARE HOPES TO CONTRIBUTE
The Chiefs claimed defensive lineman Damion Square off waivers from the Philadelphia Eagles on Aug. 31, and he’s thrilled to be with the team.
Square, whom the Eagles signed as an undrafted free agent out of Alabama in 2013, didn’t get a chance to play for Andy Reid. But the 6-2, 293-pound Square said he heard a lot about Reid from Eagles players last season.
“This is one of the teams that I considered coming to just being in Philly,” Square said. “Listening to some of the guys that played for Andy and just listening to just how great of a coach he is, and how great of an organization he runs.”
Square, a native of Houston, reunites with a college teammate on the Chiefs roster. He and linebacker Nico Johnson were teammates at Alabama, including the BCS National Championship teams of 2009, 2011 and 2012.
Knowing a familiar face on a new team helped with the transition.
“When it happened,” Square said, “he was one of the first guys to give me a phone call. And just to get back with someone with familiarity, that’s big.”
The Chiefs currently list Square as defensive tackleDontari Poe’s primary backup, and it’s a position Square understands carries significance. Poe played more than 1,000 snaps last season and the Chiefs need a reliable player to potentially spell Poe throughout the season.
Square knows the Chiefs won’t automatically give him that role, but he’s willing to put in the work to earn the trust of his teammates and the coaching staff.
“The big thing on getting out on the field is letting the guys on the side of you that you’re able to play and play at a high level,” Square said. “Just try to practice every day at a high level, build confidence within those guys for me that they can consider putting me out on the field with them and making a couple of plays.”
NOTES: The Chiefs list rookie running back De’Anthony Thomas (hamstring) as doubtful for Sunday’s game against the Titans. Thomas did not practice Thursday and Friday … Cornerback Marcus Cooper (ankle) and backup center Eric Kush (shoulder) are questionable.