Chiefs work on improving run defense

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Training camp is over and the preseason winds down with the Chiefs three days away from their third game of August.

The start of the regular season is just 20 days on the horizon.

Aug. 21, 2015; Kansas City, MO; Chiefs strong safety Tyvon Branch tackles Seattle Seahawks running back Christine Michael (33) during the second half of preseason action at Arrowhead Stadium. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

Aug. 21, 2015; Kansas City, MO; Chiefs strong safety Tyvon Branch tackles Seattle Seahawks running back Christine Michael (33) during the second half of preseason action at Arrowhead Stadium. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

There remains much for coach Andy Reid, his coaching staff and players to do before they head to Houston for the opener.

Defensively, coordinator Bob Sutton and his assistants will have a game plan for this Friday’s meeting with Tennessee. It’s the first time they have prepared for a particular opponent.

But it’s what the defensive players have learned in the last few weeks of camp and two preseason games without a plan that will create the foundation of the Chiefs 2015 defensive effort.

Sutton likes what he’s seen.

“One of the challenges of preseason football is you don’t spend as much time game planning,” he said Tuesday. “A lot of situations out there have a DNA to them – third-and-this, second-and-this, backed up. That’s really what you want your players to be able to internalize.

“I always tell them, when those situations occur on game day, we can’t get out there to you. The smarter you become as a player and as a unit, the better chance you can function and have an opportunity for success … those are really the things that we’re kind of looking for in preseason and trying to get better at.”

Sutton and staff have also used the last month to concentrate on putting together a better run defense.

Last year, the Chiefs were ranked No. 7 in the fewest yards allowed by a defense (330.8 yards per game), but ranked No. 28 against the run, allowing an average of 127.3 yards per game.

“That’s been an emphasis,” admitted Sutton. “The way we’re trying to do that is (to) improve our technique and say ‘hey, are we doing the right things out here? Do you have the right leverage? Do you have the right footwork? Do you have the right hand placement?’ When that becomes consistent, that’s when you have a chance to improve.”

Injury report update

The Chiefs were hopeful that wide receiver De’Anthony Thomas was going to return to practice on Tuesday. But his shin injury kept him off the field for another workout, the fifth practice he’s missed since suffering the injury on August 15 in Arizona.

Inside linebacker Josh Mauga and safety Sanders Commings were limited participants in Tuesday’s practice; Mauga is coming off a heel injury and Commings inflammation in a knee.

Not practicing were quarterback Tyler Bray (knee), linebacker Justin March (knee), offensive tackle Tavon Rooks (illness), guard/tackle Jeff Allen (knee), left tackle Eric Fisher (ankle), wide receiver Jason Avant (hip), tight end Demetrius Harris (foot), wide receiver Junior Hemingway (back/hip) and nose tackle Dontari Poe (back).

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Bob Gretz is the senior editor for ChiefsDigest.com. Use the contact page to reach him or find him on Twitter: @BobGretzcom.

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