Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tamba Hali Suspended For Chiefs Season Opener

The Chiefs defense has suffered some injuries to several key players over the past few weeks, and now the unit has received more bad news. Tamba Hali, the team’s best pass rusher and a key to Kansas City’s defense, has been suspended from the season opener against Atlanta. Hali will be suspended without pay, and will be fined an additional game’s paycheck as well.

The good news for Chiefs fans is that Hali only received a one-game suspension. Often, the NFL doles out a four game suspension (or longer) for a substance-abuse violation. The bad news is the one game Hali will miss is a big one – the season opener against a talented Atlanta Falcons team. The Falcons have been a playoff team for the past two seasons, and should give Kansas City all it can handle to start the season. Even worse, the team is missing Brandon Flowers and Kendrick Lewis, and it is unknown when the two defensive backs will return. A depleted secondary and the absence of the team’s best pass rusher could be a recipe for disaster for Kansas City.

Since the team drafted him in the first round, Hali has been a consistent force for Kansas City. In his career, Hali has 266 tackles and 53.5 sacks, as well as 22 forced fumbles. His last two years have been his best, with 14.5 sacks two years ago and 12 last season.

It is unknown who will replace Hali in the starting lineup. Andy Studebaker is the most likely replacement, as he has been a reliable backup for the team over the past four seasons and knows the defense well. The other option is Cameron Sheffield, who hasn’t seen much playing time in his three year career. Neither player is known for his ability to pressure the quarterback, which will make second-year player Justin Houston’s play even more important. Houston showed the ability to get to the quarterback in his rookie season, and the Chiefs will need him to step up and play well with Hali sidelined.

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