By Andrew Shortall, firstname.lastname@example.org
6:11 PM EDT, August 31, 2013
The following are previews on area athletes and coaches in the National Football League for the 2013 season.
REID DONS NEW CAP
Sometimes all it takes is a change of scenery.
After spending all of last season on the hot seat with the Philadelphia Eagles, Andy Reid has been reaping praise and has NFL prognosticators predicting a turnaround from the Kansas City Chiefs' most recent 2-14 season.
With his first new team in 14 years, the former Glendale Community College offensive tackle has made a number of moves — cutting and trading players or restructuring contracts — to bring in new talent to fit in with his system with the Chiefs, who had six Pro Bowlers last year.
After accounting for the worst record in the league in 2012, Reid's Chiefs bolstered their offensive line by selecting their starting right tackle Eric Fisher out of Central Michigan with the first overall pick on April 25.
Kansas City's most talked about move came a month earlier when it flipped a second-round draft pick on March 13 to bring in backup San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith to run Reid's West Coast offense and then released last year's Chiefs signal caller, Matt Cassel, the next day.
“First of all, he's a tough guy,” Reid said of Smith in a media conference call Sunday. “He manages a game well. You're not calling a lot of timeouts, because he's not able to distribute the plays to the team. He just handles all of those things very well.”
Reid, who has career record of 140-102-1 with nine playoff appearances and a Super Bowl berth, has also brought in some targets for Smith.
First thing was to resign wide receiver Dwayne Bowe to a five-year, $56 million deal. Anthony Fasano was then added at tight end, along with wide receiver Donnie Avery.
Jamaal Charles is also back to lead Kansas City's backfield. The six-year veteran had a career year in 2012, coming off a season-ending knee injury. He ran for 1,509 yards and five touchdowns. He'll also likely see an increased role in the passing game in Reid's offense.
The Chiefs added to an impressive defensive secondary by signing cornerback Sean Smith to play alongside strong safety Eric Berry.
“We have a couple of weeks here. It's just a matter of keep playing together, that's the main thing,” Reid said Sunday. “You just keep growing as a team. … I'm in a day-to-day process. We're trying to get better as a coach and as players, so that's what we're all about.”
JACKSON ON THE RISE
After hoping to find a more prominent role in a different city, Hue Jackson wound up staying put in the Cincinnati Bengals organization. He fielded just one interview in the offseason for the offensive coordinator position with the Carolina Panthers, according to a SportsIllustrated.com article.
Once training camp began, the former Vaqueros quarterback quickly began attracting attention from the camera crews filming this season of HBO's “Hard Knocks”. Jackson, the Bengals running backs coach and head coach Marvin Lewis' assistant, was the first voice heard in the season premiere and quickly stole the show.
Just like he did in the beginning, Jackson's been seen motivating or provoking his players, from the running backs to the defense, and fellow coaches in the show.
While the Bengals will lean heavily on their junior connection of quarterback Andy Dalton and A.J. Green, they are reportedly looking to ramp up the runs and maintain a healthy offensive balance.
“The nuts and bolts of football is running,” Jackson told Bengals.com on Aug. 20. “We're on the right track. We're working at it. When teams start game-planning for us, that's when it gets hard. We have to find a way to make yards.”
The Bengals didn't run the ball as effectively as they wanted last year. They averaged 109.1 rushing yards a game, which ranked 18th out of the 32 teams in the league. They rank No. 1 in that category this preseason (175.8).
Cincinnati still went on to take second in the AFC North in 2012 before falling to the Houston Texans in an AFC Wild Card game, 19-13, and ending the year with a 10-6 record.
Cincinnati has a diverse backfield in place for Jackson. Veteran runner BenJarvus Green-Ellis returns for his second season and rookie speedster Giovani Bernard will look to add some explosiveness and a receiving option.
A 2012 season-ending knee injury to Zack Williams, a former Glendale Community College offensive lineman, may have derailed the center's career.
The oft-injured center appeared in just one game in his two-year career with the Carolina Panthers.
Williams, the sixth-round and 203rd overall pick in the 2011 draft, sat out the entire 2011 campaign when he tore his left anterior cruciate ligament during an August training camp practice. He made his NFL debut last year on Nov. 18 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but tore his right anterior cruciate ligament in pregame warm-ups the next month, leading to him being placed on the injured reserve.
Coming into this season, the 6-foot-3 315-pounder was waived May 13 when he failed to pass the Panthers' physical. Williams' career is likely over, as he hasn't signed with another team.