The overwhelming amount of Ndukwe’s game experience comes at right guard, but he played a few snaps at left tackle last season and had been training solely at right tackle in Dolphins’ training camp. Right tackle has unquestionably been a trouble spot up front for the Chiefs the last five or so years. Ndukwe will try to flourish where the likes of John Welbourn, Kevin Sampson, Jordan Black, Chris Terry, and Damion McIntosh have underperformed.
So far, McIntosh and Barry Richardson have both seen time as KC’s first-team right tackle in the preseason, but that doesn’t faze Ndukwe.
“It’s competition, it’s a part of training camp,” he said. “Right tackle. Right tackle is where I was told that I needed to work the most at, and I appreciate them giving me the opportunity to learn one position.”
Alleman, like Ndukwe, is a versatile lineman capable of playing either guard position or center. Much like the battle at right tackle, no clear frontrunner has emerged in the fight for first-team center. Tuesday, Eric Ghiaciuc received reps with the first team, and Wade Smith, who’d been working primarily as a guard this offseason, got some run at center.
Many Chiefs fans may have expected Alleman, who started five games for the Dolphins last year, to join the battle at center, but he lined up at right guard Tuesday, and that’s where Haley wants him.
“That was the plan when we had an opportunity with these guys,” he said. “Two players that we were excited about the chance of getting them on our team, and for those positions specifically, so they will do just what we talked about yesterday--bring competition to the right tackle and right guard spot.”
Haley indicated that Ndukwe and Alleman are in Kansas City to be more than just backups.
“I would expect them to fully compete for all those open spots,” he said.
There was no word on how Kansas City compensated Miami for the two new linemen, but Ndukwe had an idea.
“Andy and I were joking,” he said. “We thought maybe it was a pack of Chiclets. Maybe an old finger nail clipper.”
While recent inter- and intra-squad personnel moves indicate Haley’s displeased with his offensive line, he did find some kind words for someone who he might not have praised just a few months ago – guard Brian Waters
“I like our leadership a lot,” said Haley. “I think this Brian Waters has tremendous leadership skills, as does Mike Goff, kind of in two different ways. I think when you have a couple guys like that, you see them run after practice on their own, and they’re doing that on their own, I think that’s a good sign.”
Haley and Waters’ reported run-in earlier this offseason prompted speculation about a possible trade. Since the incident, neither Haley nor Waters have openly talked about the incident. Haley did not address it Tuesday.
“None of my personal stuff with these guys will ever be talked about with me,” he said. “Again, this is a player who’s come in and done above and beyond what’s asked of him everyday, and he obviously can play. He’s shown that. He’s got himself in very good condition, which I think he’s kind of seeing as an advantage to himself.”
Haley also offered some praise for another player who’s been reportedly in his dog house - wideout Dwayne Bowe.
“I think that that’s pretty obvious for all of you that have been out here, that you’ve seen a progression from Dwayne that’s encouraging,” said Haley. “From the early days of camp to where he’s at now, I think, that he’s made very good progress.”
“Is he there? No. Do we need to make more plays? Yes. But that’s what coaching is all about, trying to push the right buttons all the time with a lot of different guys. I would say that Dwayne has made a progress here in the last couple weeks, most specifically. For a while there it was treading water, but now I feel like the arrow’s going in the right direction.”
Before Haley and general manager Scott Pioli started reeling in offensive linemen during camp, they were busy working out and signing wide receivers. Both Amani Toomer and Ashley Lelie were recently signed, and it was no secret Haley wasn’t content with the receivers he already had. Now, Haley says, the receiver unit is also heading in the right direction.
“I think the group as a whole has made some progress…Bobby Engram even,” he said. “He’s an older veteran that I got to worry about him conserving too much. I kind of got on him at the beginning of this week that I wanted to see what he had. See what we were going to get from him this week, I think that he’s stepped up. I felt like we were banging our heads against the wall early on, and I don’t feel like there’s quite as much banging going on now.”