The Chiefs special teams will be on high alert on Sunday against the Cleveland Browns.
Browns special teams coach Chris Tabor, a native of St. Joseph and disciple of Chiefs special teams coach Dave Toub at Missouri and with the Chicago Bears, isn’t afraid to take some chances.
Already this season, Cleveland punter/holder Spencer Lanning has thrown an 11-yard touchdown pass on a fake field-goal attempt, and the Browns have run two fakes out of punt formation.
“Chris Tabor does a great job coaching them,” Toub said of the former Benedictine College quarterback. “He likes to create offense with his special teams. They’ve been killing everybody on special teams. They certainly have our attention.”
The Browns have one of the most dangerous kick returners in Travis Benjamin, who returned a punt 93 yards for a touchdown against the Chiefs last season. He has returned a punt 79 yards for a score this year.
Benjamin returned his only kickoff of the season 86 yards, which set up a touchdown last week against Green Bay. The longest kickoff return against the Chiefs this season is 35 yards.
“He’s very impressive,” Toub said of Benjamin. “He just keeps getting better and better. He gets to the edge when you don’t think he’s going to get it. Guys think they have the angle on them, and he can still get there.
“We have to have good punts and a real good net — which is our coverage — makes sure everybody stays in proper position. And we have to fly to the ball. Otherwise this guy will hurt you.”
Bowe limited in practice
Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe was listed as a limited participant in practice on Thursday because of a groin injury.
Bowe was in full pads during the 20 minutes the media was allowed to watch practice.
Safety Kendrick Lewis (ankle) was the only Chiefs player who did not participate in practice, though he was on the field in sweats and didn’t appear to be in any discomfort.
Tight end Anthony Fasano (knee/ankle) was listed as limited; and guard Jeff Allen (knee/groin), linebacker Derrick Johnson (wrist), linebacker Dezman Moses (toe); cornerback Ron Parker (toe); and fullback Anthony Sherman (knee/calf) all took part in a full practice.
The Browns said starting running back Willis McGahee (knee) did not practice.
Demps goes deep
The Chiefs’ Quintin Demps returned a kickoff a season-best 57 yards last week against Houston, and he’s starting to bring kickoffs out of the end zone rather than settle for a touchback.
Demps brought kickoffs out of the end zone from 4, 3 and 8 yards deep.
“What we tell him to do,” Toub said, “is if the ball is not hanging up there … if it’s a 4.2 (seconds) hang time and six or seven yards deep, he’s going to stay in. So he’s got a mental clock in his head. If he gets it quick, and he can tell the coverage is not down there, we’re going to come out with it.
“We’re going to try to be aggressive with our kickoff return.
Pro Bowl balloting
Fan voting for the 2014 Pro Bowl is now underway on line and on web-enabled mobile phones by going to NFL.com/probowl/ballot.
Balloting will conclude on Dec. 26, and the Pro Bowl selections will be announced in early January. Instead of the AFC vs. NFC format, players will be assigned to teams without regard to conference in voting by fans, coaches and players. For instance, the top six quarterbacks following voting will earn distinction as All-Stars, regardless of how many are from AFC or NFC teams.
The 2014 Pro Bowl will be played on Sunday, Jan. 26 in Honolulu.