One of the big reasons that the Kansas City Chiefs have had such a forgettable pre-season is the fact that they lost second-year tight end Tony Moeaki to a season-ending injury. The Chiefs' second-leading receiver as a rookie, Moeaki beat the Buffalo Bills for three receptions and 45 yards in a Week 8 Chiefs win last year, and had also quickly become an excellent blocker
Joel Thorman of ArrowheadPride.com told me that losing Moeaki's 47 catches, 556 yards and three touchdowns is a much bigger blow to Kansas City's offense than most realize.
"The Moeaki injury hurts because the Chiefs were planning on using him in so many ways for the 2010 season," Thorman said. "It's such a blow."
How do the Chiefs plan to replace him offensively? It's a bit ambiguous on the whole, but at the tight end position, the answers are rather dull.
"As for who replaces him, we're not totally sure yet," Thorman continued. "Leonard Pope is on the roster and he's the next man up, but he's more of a blocker rather than a pass-catcher like Moeaki. Jake O'Connell is also on the roster, but he hasn't really done anything in his two years in the league, so we're not exactly sure what he can do in extended time. My guess right now is that Moeaki's real replacement, if they can replace him, isn't on the roster yet."
The Chiefs did add wide receiver Steve Breaston - who played for Todd Haley in his first two pro seasons while the two were with the Arizona Cardinals - this off-season, and he's expected to pick up much of the slack Moeaki's loss leaves for the passing game. Second-year player Dexter McCluster is also expected to see an expanded offensive role as a pass catcher to help make up for some of the things Moeaki did as an underneath receiver.
Kansas City is a tough offense for anyone to defend, but given the problems that the Bills had covering tight ends in 2010, it's hard to imagine that they're too upset that they won't see Moeaki in Week 1.