KANSAS CITY, Mo. (Sept. 30, 2004) -- Dante Hall, Kansas City's All-Pro kick returner, could only stand on the sideline at practice on Sept. 30, icing
his painfully infected lower lip.
He needed stitches after being injured early in Sunday's 24-21 loss to Houston that dropped the Chiefs to 0-3.
"His lip was infected, pretty well puffed up," coach Dick Vermeil said. "It hurt to even jog, bouncing that lip."
Vermeil said Hall was taking antibiotics and would probably be ready for Monday night's game at Baltimore, where Kansas City won 17-10 last year with
the help of a 97-yard kickoff return by Hall.
Not once in a coaching career that began in 1959 has Vermeil ever had a player miss time with an infected lip.
"We always talk about, 'Do something for the first time,"' said Vermeil. "That's it."
There was also good news on the injury front for the Chiefs as defensive end Vonnie Holliday and cornerback William Bartee both practiced at full
speed and expect to be ready.
"We'll see what happens. But I feel good," Holliday said. "We'll see how the week goes."
Another first for Vermeil is starting a season 0-3. Everyone understands a fourth straight loss would almost certainly doom the Chiefs to also-ran
status following last year's 13-3 campaign.
"You've got to love the challenge," defensive end Eric Hicks said. "Why not make it the hardest possible stage you could have to get your first win?
We're going to go in there fully expecting to win. We need to win. We've got to shut down No. 31 to do it."
No. 31 is Jamal Lewis, last year's NFL rushing champion who was held to a relatively minor output of 115 yards by Kansas City a year ago. But a year
ago the Chiefs did not have a run defense that had already given up career-best days to two running backs in three games.
"We were able to contain him last year and not let him get on a roll," Hicks said. "He had about 116 yards rushing. I don't think we can let that
happen again. We need to try to hold him to 70 or 80 and stay in our gap."
The Chiefs are practicing with Lewis in mind.
"He's a very strong runner," linebacker Monty Beisel said. "We don't want to create seams. That's the one thing we're working on this week is shutting
down the run lanes and keeping their offensive line from sifting up through our second level."
After taking two days off, the Chiefs came back to work Thursday with a high-spirited practice.
"Judging by the practice we just had, you'd never know we were 0-3," Hicks said. "You'd think we were 3-0. You attribute that to Coach Vermeil and the
coaching staff. They always have us up and ready to go. He must be the best motivational speaker in the world because we're always up for a
The loss to Houston could have been particularly demoralizing. The Texans are just in their third year, they had lost six in a row and the Chiefs
outplayed them in just about every statistical category.
"But they came back and worked real hard, which didn't surprise me," Vermeil said. "I expected them to. They want to, and, as I said all along, that's
the kind of people we have. They went to work. Does that guarantee anything? No. But I know they'll work hard tomorrow. And we'll end up being a
little better Monday night."