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Chiefs have week to regroup after another loss

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Chiefs have week to regroup after another loss

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) The Chiefs have played nearly 500 minutes over eight games and overtime, and so far they have yet to hold the lead in regulation for a single second.

That's the startling reality for a team picked by some to win the AFC West this season.

There have been devastating injuries to key players, including concussions to both quarterbacks. Their top wide receiver held out during training camp, their star running back has had games where he's only received five carries, and a defensive-minded head coach can't seem to get a defense full of first-round draft picks to stop much of anything.

The result is a 1-7 record that has led to fans paying for banners to fly over the stadium pleading for the general manager to be fired, and an organized protest on tap for an upcoming home game in which fans are planning to come dressed in black.

``It's tough, because I don't think I've ever have been part of this exact scenario,'' said Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel, who got his first NFL job with the New York Giants in 1981.

Crennel compared this year's version of the Chiefs to the 1983 Giants, who went 3-13.

``That was no fun, because we were doing some of the things that cause you to lose,'' Crennel said on a conference call Friday. ``This team is doing some of those things.''

The most obvious one is turning over the ball.

Matt Cassel threw his 11th interception on Thursday night, which was returned 59 yards for a touchdown by former teammate Demorrio Williams, and the Chiefs also lost three more fumbles.

One of those was a strip-sack in the end zone that resulted in another San Diego touchdown.

All told, the Chiefs have turned it 29 times this season.

``What we have to do is eliminate the situations we put ourselves in where negative plays occur,'' Crennel said, ``and we have to do a better job of protecting ourselves when we're in bad situations to prevent those negative plays. On the fumble in the end zone, we didn't block a guy, and the guy runs free and he's able to hit us and make the play. If we block the guy, maybe we don't fumble the ball, we get the pass off and we're still in the game.''

Or at least, the offense still has the ball.

Even that's no certainty of success, though. Kansas City had touchdowns on just two of its previous 43 offensive series before a late score against the Chargers.

The Chiefs' only win came on a game-ending field goal by Ryan Succop in overtime.

Making matters worse, the Chiefs sustained another round of injuries to key players on offense Thursday night. Running back Jamaal Charles left with a neck injury, though Crennel believes he'll be OK, while rookie guard Jeff Allen sustained a blow to his head.

That pressed into service Russ Hochstein, who was signed just a few weeks ago.

Crennel is also unsure what his quarterback situation will be like when the Chiefs return to the field for another prime-time game a week from Monday night at Pittsburgh.

Cassel lost his job during the bye week, but got it back when Brady Quinn sustained a head injury against Oakland. Crennel had said Quinn would be the starter whenever he's cleared - he hasn't been yet - but seemed to backtrack a bit Friday.

``When he gets cleared, we'll cross that bridge when we get to it,'' Crennel said. ``Any time a player gets injured, you have to look at the injury and see what's going to happen with it.''

Defensive end Glenn Dorsey, who hadn't played in weeks, only made it a few series against San Diego before hurting his calf again. Nickel back Javier Arenas also left with a head injury.

Even the few bright spots for the Chiefs this season turned sour Thursday night.

Succop had made 14 consecutive field goals before banking a 39-yard try off the upright in the third quarter. It was the start of a cascade of problems that turned a relatively close game - the Chiefs still trailed 10-6 at the start of the fourth quarter - into another blowout.

``We're working to fight our way out of this situation we're in,'' Crennel said.

The challenge now is to figure out a way to do it.

Crennel has already swapped quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll has run the gamut from throwing just about every down to running every down. The defense has tried every exotic blitz in Crennel's arsenal yet failed to come up with the sort of game-changing plays that San Diego used to score two defensive touchdowns and put the game away.

Perhaps the most apropos image from the game was a screen shot from the NFL Network that showed Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli, his right hand on his head, with about two minutes remaining and an expression on his face that looked as if he had a severe case of indigestion.

Everyone in the organization was probably feeling the same way.

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10 Questions in 10 days: Major questions at linebacker on Redskins depth chart

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10 Questions in 10 days: Major questions at linebacker on Redskins depth chart

With Redskins Training Camp set to begin July 26th, JP Finlay takes a look at 10 of the most pressing questions for the Burgundy and Gold. 

No. 10: Major questions at linebacker on Redskins depth chart

The Redskins top two linebackers rank among the most productive units in the NFL. When healthy, Mason Foster and Zach Brown are highly efficient tacklers. In fact, Brown led the league in tackles for most of 2017 before his season ended with a foot injury. 

The healthy part is the trick. 

Last year, Foster separated his shoulder against the Rams in Week 2 and was shut down for the season by October. Brown played through nagging injuries all year before shutting things down in December. 

When both players were on the field, the Redskins defense excelled. In just four starts, Foster made 30 tackles to go with an interception, a fumble recovery and half a sack. Brown logged double-digit tackles in nine games last season, and probably would have more without the foot trouble. 

Foster and Brown are very good in the Redskins scheme, and both players are expected to be fully healthy for the start of training camp. Their injuries from last season are not the type that suggest durability concerns, and both players posted full 16-game seasons in 2016.

Foster and Brown aren't the question. The depth chart after Foster and Brown are the question. 

Zach Vigil, Martrell Spaight, Josh Harvey-Clemons and rookie Shaun Dion Hamilton are competing for two or possibly three roster spots. 

Spaight is the most recognizable name in the group. He's been a good special teams player for Washington, and is well liked in the locker room. By last December, however, Vigil was playing better football. 

More telling for both Vigil and Spaight was that Harvey-Clemons took the starter reps alongside Foster when Brown was absent during OTAs. The second-year man out of Louisville has more physical gifts than either Vigil or Spaight, and now given a full year to learn to play linebacker, Harvey-Clemons could make inroads.

A safety in college, Harvey-Clemons can run. He was a bit of a surprise last season making the 53-man roster out of camp, so expect him to definitely have a shot this year. 

Hamilton will be the wild card. An ultra-talented player out of Alabama, he dealt with a number of injuries in college. Redskins VP Doug Williams talked gushingly about Hamilton after the draft, and if the former 5-Star recruit can stay healthy, he could certainly push for a spot as well. 

Prior to 2017, the Redskins kept four inside linebackers on their final 53 roster. In 2017, the team kept five: Brown, Foster, Spaight, Will Compton and Harvey-Clemons. Compton left via free agency and is now playing in Nashville. 

Foster and Brown are roster locks, and it seems like Harvey-Clemons gets the third nod. 

Spaight, Vigil and Hamilton better be ready for serious competition in Richmond. 

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: What does the future hold?

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: What does the future hold?

In this week's mailbag podcast, JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir answer several questions about the Caps' prospects and Hershey.

How does the future look on the farm? Plus, they talk about potential weaknesses, their biggest surprises and more!

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.

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