Eddie Kennison is ready for the Opener

One of the best kept secrets in the NFL a year ago was Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Eddie Kennison. In 2004, he was second on the team in catches, touchdowns and first in yards per catch. Not many wide receivers at the age of 32 ascend in this league but Eddie Kennison did just that last season.

Ask any Kansas City Chiefs fan about who the teams number one receiver is and to a man they'll tell you tight end Tony Gonzalez. Last season, Eddie Kennison came out of the shadows of a solid 2003 season to become on of the better clutch receivers in the NFL in 2004.

For the Chiefs a season ago, Kennison simply led the team in yards per catch (17.5), second in yardage (1086) and touchdowns (8). If not for a hamstring injury that kept him out of two plus games, those numbers might even have surpassed those of the teams' top receiver Tony Gonzalez.

But if you ask Eddie Kennison about statistics or making plays, none of that matters. It's all about winning and playing with your teammates on Sunday. Nothing else matters for this very spiritual and philosophical football player.

"It's time. All that over-rated preseason stuff is done. This is the real deal. This is a new beginning. I don't think anyone in this locker room is looking forward to anything other than this Sunday. Arrowhead is going to be rocking," said Kennison.

For the Chiefs getting Kennison involved in the offense is a given but with question marks surrounding quarterback Trent Green, some have trepidations about how ready the Chiefs signal caller will be on Sunday. Given the fact that Green had minor surgery ten days ago, some are skeptical that he'll be ready to play on Sunday. Don't count Kennison as one of those people worried about his quarterback.

"Trent is Trent. From the time he had the surgery, he never lost a step. If you ask me he looks better. He moves well, he runs well," Kennison proclaimed.

In fact over the past three years, the connection between Kennison and Green has been one of the primary reasons this offense has excelled since 2002. After being cut by Denver in 2001, Kennison and Green formed a bond on the field from the get go. A year ago, Kennison's playmaking ability led to a record setting season for Tony Gonzalez.

In years past, the Chiefs wide receivers didn't get much attention but Kennison made plays downfield that opened up passing lanes for Gonzalez. In fact, last season, though the offense struggled at times, we saw more pass completions in the middle of the field than in years past to Tony Gonzalez.

Still this Sunday, Kennison and his offensive mates know they're facing a very strong defense in the New York Jets. In fact, Kansas City Chiefs Head Coach Dick Vermeil believes it might be the best defense his team will face the entire season.

For Kennison and offensive coordinator Al Saunders, they know that the Jets have some weakness on defense and they plan to attack their new secondary. That means Kennison will likely be matched up against cornerback Ty Law who spurned on offer to join the Chiefs in the offseason.

"We're going to do everything we can as a football team to attack that secondary. They have a defense that has their strengths and their defense betrays some weaknesses. We're going to try and take advantage of that weakness that's what this game is about trying to find their loopholes. Our offensive coordinator has shown us some of these things on film and we're going to try and take advantage of them," he said.

It's been a long road for the Chiefs this offseason. Since the team lost their last game January 2nd in San Diego, the entire organization has been pointing to opening day. All the moves in the offseason will be displayed on Sunday. For rookies or new blood on this team, opening day can be troublesome because of the raucous Arrowhead crowd.

For Eddie Kennison, he tries to stay even keeled. "I feel the same way in week one as I do in week sixteen. My feeling for the game is the same every time we get ready to play," he told me. "This is a great football team. We have some great guys on offense and defense."

That last comment brought up one last question. Eddie new it was coming and he knew I had to ask it. I wanted his opinion of the 2005 version of the Kansas City Chiefs defense. "At this point in time, I would not want to face our defense. I know how Gun is and what guys are on the team now. I know how they're looking and their direction and how their focused. It's going to be very exciting for the Chiefs fans to see," Kennison said profoundly.

Let's hope he's right.

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