Falcons RT Tyson Clabo vs. Chiefs OLB Justin Houston: With Tamba Hali suspended for the game for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, Houston is the Chiefs best pass rusher. The former Georgia standout had 5.5 sacks last season, tying him for fifth all-time in Chiefs history for most sacks by a rookie. Clabo, who’s hoping to return to his 2010 Pro Bowl form, will have Houston most of the day. “Justin is doing good,” Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel said. “This is his second year and I think he has a much more comfortable feeling about the defense and his role in the defense. I think he has some high aspirations for the type of player that he wants to be.”
Falcons TE Tony Gonzalez vs. Chiefs SS Eric Berry: Gonzalez played 12 seasons with the Chiefs. Berry returns at safety after missing nearly all of last season with a knee injury. In 2010, Berry became the first Chiefs player since linebacker Derrick Thomas in 1989 to earn a Pro Bowl selection following his rookie season when he set a franchise safety record with 126 tackles and returned four interceptions for 102 yards, including a 54-yard touchdown. Gonzalez does not appear to be showing any signs of slowing down at age 36. He has averaged 77 catches per season in three campaigns with the Falcons.
Falcons WLB Sean Weatherspoon vs. Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles: The Falcons believe that Charles is the second fastest running back in the league behind Tennessee’s Chris Johnson. After posting back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons, he suffered a knee injury and played in just two games last season. He’s also a dangerous pass catcher out of the backfield. “He’s an elusive player,” Weatherspoon said. “They try to get him in space so that he can do what he does best. As a linebacker, you kind of have to play tight on him. You have to get downhill on him quick when he’s coming out of the backfield. You have to try to send him in the direction that you want him to go in, instead of him having a two-way go on you. That will be the biggest thing. He’s coming back off an injury, but he looks pretty explosive from the preseason clips that I’ve seen.”
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