NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE
TENNESSEE at KANSAS CITY
Today, noon, CBS
Kansas City, Mo.
• OPENING LINE — Chiefs by 6
• RECORD VS. SPREAD — Tennessee 6-8-2, Kansas City 9-7-1
• SERIES RECORD — Chiefs lead 29-20
• LAST MEETING — Chiefs beat Titans 26-17, Oct. 6, 2013
• AP PRO32 RANKING — Titans No. 26, Chiefs No. 16
• TITANS OFFENSE — OVERALL (22), RUSH (14), PASS (21).
• TITANS DEFENSE — OVERALL (14), RUSH (20), PASS (11).
• CHIEFS OFFENSE — OVERALL (21), RUSH (10), PASS (T24).
• CHIEFS DEFENSE — OVERALL (24), RUSH (22), PASS (T25).
• STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES — Chiefs are 17-8 against Tennessee at Arrowhead Stadium. ... Titans trying for 400th regular-season win. ... Titans K Ryan Succop was released by Chiefs last weekend. Pro Bowl WR Dexter McCluster also played for KC last season. ... WR Nate Washington needs 56 yards receiving to become ninth Titans player with 4,000 yards. Earnest Givens holds record with 7,935 yards receiving. ... Titans QB Jake Locker needs 586 yards passing to move into top 10 in franchise history. ... Chiefs had plus-18 turnover differential last season with 36 takeaways. ... Chiefs led league with 11 touchdown returns on defense and special teams. ... QB Alex Smith signed four-year extension last weekend to remain in KC through 2018 season. Sixth-round pick Zach Fulton will start at RG for Chiefs. ... RB Jamaal Charles needs 193 yards rushing to pass Larry Johnson (6,015) for second-most in Chiefs history behind Priest Holmes. ... LB Derrick Johnson needs 19 tackles to pass Gary Spani (999) for most in Chiefs history.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The first inkling Dexter McCluster had that Ryan Succop was joining him in Tennessee came from a posting on Instagram. McCluster didn’t know anything for certain until he walked into a meeting.
“He stood up and introduced himself,” McCluster said, “and I said, ‘Wow. Great to have you.’”
It was a rather strange reunion for McCluster and Succop, who spent last season helping the Kansas City Chiefs to the playoffs. McCluster signed with the Titans as a free agent, while Succop capped a whirlwind week in which he was waived by Kansas City by signing with Tennessee on Monday.
Why so strange, though? Well, both will be back in Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday.
“It’s definitely going to be different,” McCluster said. “I spent four years there. The atmosphere at Arrowhead is always rocking. It’s going to be different on the other side. I don’t think I ever saw the other locker room, ever, in my career there.”
Turns out that Succop never did, either.
“I’ve walked by it a number of times but I’ve never actually been in it,” said Succop, the most accurate kicker in Chiefs history. “That’ll be an interesting deal.”
In this modern era of free agency, it’s not uncommon for players to face their former teams. A few members of the Chiefs have a history with Tennessee, including wide receiver Donnie Avery.
But when McCluster and Succop are lumped together with safety Bernard Pollard, defensive end Ropati Pitoitua and running back Jackie Battle, well, that’s a whole lot of familiarity.
“They’re doing good. They’re real good men,” Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “Glad to have them here, and you know, we’re excited about kicking off the season.”
With Succop, quite literally.
“Unless they kick it to us,” Whisenhunt said with a laugh.
If that’s the case, it just might be McCluster getting his hands on the ball first.
He was signed by the Titans to do a number of things, whether that’s running the ball out of the backfield or catching passes. But his biggest value just may be on special teams. He made the Pro Bowl as a punt returner, and his speed and shiftiness make him a dangerous kick returner.
McCluster said the Chiefs wanted to keep him when free agency hit, but they were hamstrung by salary cap woes. When things didn’t work, he insists, there were no hard feelings.
“I have some great relationships with the coaches. They wanted me, most definitely,” he said, “but the business side of it, you have to go out there and show your worth. I love it here in Nashville. I still have love for that city, and I’m thankful, but right now, just a new chapter.”
The same goes for Succop, who spent the last five seasons in Kansas City.
Most expected him to still be the kicker when the regular season rolled around, but Succop never distanced himself from undrafted free agent Cairo Santos. The two of them were neck-and-neck through training camp, and the fact that Succop was due much more money may have worked against him. By keeping Santos, the cash-strapped club saved well over $1 million.
“I had a great experience in Kansas City,” Succop said. “I was very blessed to play there for a long time. Everyone there, from the owner to the coaches to everyone was great.”
But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to stick it to them Sunday.
“Obviously,” Succop said, “I want to win.”
Like McCluster and Succop, Battle got his start in Kansas City, spending the first five years of his career there. Headed into his eighth season, his best year came with the Chiefs when he ran for 597 yards in 2011.
Playing against them will hardly be a new experience, though. He spent the 2012 season with AFC West rival San Diego, facing the Chiefs twice. And he faced them again last season, when the Titans blew a fourth-quarter lead in a 26-17 loss at LP Field.
Pitoitua and Pollard, meanwhile, hardly think about their time in Kansas City. Pitoitua was only there for the Chiefs’ disastrous two-win season in 2012, so it’s easy to forgive him. Pollard hasn’t been with the franchise since the 2008 season.
“It doesn’t matter where we are,” Pollard said simply. “It’s time to play football.”
NOTES —Chiefs coach Andy Reid disclosed Thursday that CB Marcus Cooper (ankle) and WR De’Anthony Thomas (hamstring) had sustained injuries. Their severity was not disclosed. Neither was on the field for the 20 minutes of practice that reporters are allowed to view.