Chiefs’ Reid could rest starts against Chargers

The dilemma that faces Chiefs coach Andy Reid this week is not

an unfamiliar one. In fact, several times during his 14-year tenure

in Philadelphia he faced a similar situation.

Play his starters or sit them? Rest or let them roll?

Kansas City is assured of the No. 5 seed in the AFC playoffs,

which means it will head on the road for a wild-card game in two

weeks. That also means the Chiefs are playing a game Sunday at San

Diego that is virtually meaningless for them, at least in terms of

seeding and matchups.

If history is any indication, get ready to see Alex Smith and

Jamaal Charles spend a whole lot of time on the sideline. Same with

the Chiefs’ other key players.

”If you look at the history of it, it’s about a 50-50 shot over

the last three or four years of people who have done it,” Reid

said Monday. ”It’s what you’re most comfortable with as a

coach.

”The obvious benefit is you rest your guys,” Reid explained.

”You kind of get back a little fresher than what they were at the

end of the season. You take a risk of the timing part of it. So

those are the things that you have to evaluate.”

While the game doesn’t matter much for Kansas City, it means a

lot for the Chargers. San Diego can still slip into the playoffs

with a victory and losses by the Dolphins and Ravens.

”The Chargers won’t play like it’s an exhibition game,” Chiefs

offensive guard Geoff Schwartz said. ”I promise you we’ll be ready

to play.”

With whoever might be on the field in San Diego.

”Man, I don’t have nothing to do with it,” Charles said when

asked whether he wants to play or rest. ”We still want to win.

We’ve got one more game to play before the playoffs.”

Another factor for Reid to consider is players who’ve been

injured.

While it’s unlikely that linebacker Tamba Hali will play after

he experienced swelling in his knee in a 23-7 loss to Indianapolis

on Sunday, two other players – left tackle Branden Albert and

linebacker Justin Houston – could be ready to go for the first time

in weeks.

Might it be a good idea to get them into the game to knock off

some rust?

”I’ll try to look at everything,” Reid said. ”I always try to

look at everything, evaluate it and try to come up with what is

right for this team.”

Reid may claim that he’s done it ”both ways,” playing guys and

resting them, but a look at his time in Philadelphia reveals that

on four occasions when the Eagles had nothing to gain before the

playoffs – a better seed, home-field advantage – their big names

mostly took a seat.

The final week of the 2001 season, the Eagles had clinched the

NFC East and were assured of playing Tampa Bay the following week.

Seven regulars were inactive, five others didn’t start, and

quarterback Donovan McNabb appeared for two plays.

Philadelphia wound up reaching the NFC championship game, losing

at St. Louis.

Three years later, the Eagles started 13-1 and had nothing to

play for the final two weeks of the season. Reid had the starters

play just one series in a Monday night loss to the Rams and had

most of them take off the finale, a 38-10 rout by Cincinnati.

The Eagles sure didn’t look rusty in reaching the Super Bowl,

where they lost to New England.

On the final weekend of 2006, the Eagles clinched the NFC East a

few minutes into their game against Atlanta when Dallas lost to

Detroit. Reid promptly pulled most of his starters to keep them

healthy for a first-round matchup against the Giants.

The Eagles beat New York before losing in the divisional round

at New Orleans.

Prior to his final trip to the playoffs with Philadelphia, Reid

again rested most of his big names in Week 17 against Dallas, and

said afterward ”it was the right thing for us to do.”

Green Bay beat the Eagles the following week in a wild-card

game.

”I appreciate you doing your homework. I do,” Reid said,

smiling. ”The one thing I did then and I’ll do now is take the

time I have to evaluate it, and make sure I do what I think is

right. This is one of those decisions you make, it’s a bit of a gut

feeling you go with.”

Online: http://pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL