Don’t tell the young players on the Kansas City Chiefs the final preseason game is meaningless.Especially don’t say that to Connor Barth and Nick Novak, two friends whose battle for the job of place kicker finally may be settled tonight when the Chiefs host the St. Louis Rams in the final preseason tuneup for both of Missouri’s NFL teams.
Don’t tell the young players on the Kansas City Chiefs the final preseason game is meaningless.Especially don’t say that to Connor Barth and Nick Novak, two friends whose battle for the job of place kicker finally may be settled tonight when the Chiefs host the St. Louis Rams in the final preseason tuneup for both of Missouri’s NFL teams.Veteran Jay Feely was brought in on Monday, an apparent admission that the Chiefs were not entirely happy with either Barth or Novak. But the Feely experiment lasted about one day. The Chiefs announced Wednesday that Feely had been released after Novak and Barth clearly out-kicked the veteran in practice.Now that job and several others will be up for grabs in the kickoff against the Rams, which was moved up to 6 p.m. CDT to accommodate television coverage of the National Democratic Convention.Chiefs coach Herm Edwards said the decision to cut Feely and stick with Barth, a rookie, and Novak, who has only a smattering of NFL experience, also had to do with being honest with his team.He has told the rookie-laden squad all positions are open to competition, regardless of how good anyone’s resume may look. He did not want to appear to go back on his word.“There are a lot of guys who have been starters before who might not be starting right now because the other guy is performing better,” Edwards said.Going with the more experienced Feely would have been the easy route to take, a route the Chiefs would have taken in the past, Edwards said.“When you’re in our situation, a young football team, sometimes the easy thing to do when guys are in a position where there’s not a clear-cut favorite, the easy thing to do in the past was, ‘Let’s go get a veteran.’“We’re not doing that. We’re trying to build a football team. If it’s a good veteran and he fits in our system and he does what we want him to do, then that’s fine. But we don’t just go out and get a veteran to say we got a veteran. We did that a little bit last year. It didn’t work out too well in certain positions.”The Rams (2-1) will bring a familiar face to Arrowhead Stadium. Coach Scott Linehan said Trent Green, one of the most accomplished quarterbacks in Chiefs history, will make the start for St. Louis.Edwards expects the crowd will be more than respectful to Green, who was with Kansas City from 2001-06 and threw for 118 touchdowns and more than 21,000 yards.“Hopefully, they would applaud him,” Edwards said. “He was a great player here, did a lot for this football team, won a lot of games. I know I’m going to go shake his hand.”The Chiefs (1-2) may let their regulars play longer than first-teamers usually do in the final preseason game. Their 24-0 loss last week to Miami was a setback to their progress and a blow to their confidence.“We’ll play some starters a little longer,” Edwards said.“The thing about preseason is you want to get better. You want your players to get better.”The kickers are not the only ones who will be winning or losing a job Thursday night.“We’re going to have to cut 22 players, and that’s always difficult,” Edward said.