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Beuerlein Back on the Raider Firing Line : Chiefs Will Start Kenney in Duel of Struggling Teams

Times Staff Writer

A tale of several quarterbacks:

Steve Beuerlein takes the Raider helm today.

Jay Schroeder will send the plays in. He says he understands.

Bill Kenney is back at No. 1 for the Kansas City Chiefs. He’s been there before.

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Steve DeBerg is sitting down, as opposed to getting knocked down, as he’s been for several weeks.

Troy Aikman must be covering his eyes. The 1-6-1 Chiefs are the front-runners in the derby to draft him.

There are almost as many sub-plots as fans expected--45,000 would be deemed quite acceptable--for today’s Raider-Chief clash, another notable one being the return of Bo Jackson.

Pathos?

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The Chiefs are miserable, coming off a home loss to the Detroit Lions? And Rusty Hilger? Yup, by a score of 7-6, after which several players went off, railing about teammates lying down on the job.

“How can it get any worse?” asked cornerback Kevin Ross after that game. “Some guys around here . . . I wouldn’t go upstairs and get a paycheck.

“We’d better address it. Otherwise, it’s going to be an ugly scene around here.”

Hope?

The Raiders have to prove that there’s more to their dream of making the playoffs than the seemingly endless opportunity afforded by their depressed division.

So far, their only victories have been a cautious 24-13 win over the San Diego Chargers in the opener; that 30-27 Monday night miracle in Denver, coming from 24-0 behind; and a faintly impressive, at best, 27-17 conquest of the Chiefs.

If they have started to show glimmers--the switch to a 4-man line has helped the defense; Jackson has revived the running game when he’s in there--this is when they have to start putting it together.

Re-enter Beuerlein.

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With Schroeder swamped, and the Chiefs, Chargers and Atlanta Falcons being served up in the next month, the Raiders have switched back to the 23-year-old rookie-in-effect, whose poise and self-confidence started to shine so brightly--after they made the Schroeder trade.

Is Beuerlein ready?

Is he for real?

Are there really grounds for an ongoing quarterback controversy?

One thing about this move, the Raiders will learn more about Beuerlein than how he looks in the halo effect of being a No. 2 quarterback.

Beuerlein is typically upbeat. He’s an engaging, easy-to-like young man. Jim Plunkett, who had only a polite relationship with rivals Marc Wilson and Hilger, was fond of Beuerlein, whom he found to be at once respectful and buoyant. Schroeder, who had a big problem with his demotion in Washington, seems to get along easily with Beuerlein.

“I think Jay and I have a real good relationship,” Beuerlein said. “He knows that I was out there doing whatever I could to help him and I’m sure he’ll do the same for me when I’m out there.”

Beuerlein is not as gifted as Schroeder, but then there a lot of good quarterbacks who aren’t physical prodigies. Beuerlein has a strong arm, he’s competitive and he believes in himself.

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Although he hasn’t been around 10 years, he has a far better grasp of the new offense than Schroeder. If he can stand up under the weighty expectations that bear down on the man in charge, he could do a lot for his team and himself.

“I plan on going out, No. 1, and doing whatever I can to win ballgames, but No. 2, to establish myself as the starting quarterback here,” he said.

Re-enter Bo.

Jackson is expected back after leaving early in New Orleans with a strained hamstring. Coach Mike Shanahan said that Jackson stayed out on the training staff’s advice, although inevitably, questions were raised about his durability and attitude.

If Jackson alone is a competent judge of his own pain, this isn’t a new issue in his career. It popped up at Auburn and last season, when he missed the final three games with a sprained ankle.

Meanwhile last week, Marcus Allen ran for 102 yards with a broken wrist.

Re-enter the Chiefs.

They have blue-chippers stacked to the blue sky, but they have had them for years, and gone down the drain with them.

Their giant young offensive line is made up of No. 1 picks, John Alt and Brian Jozwiak; projected No. 1s from the USFL, Irv Eatman and Mark Adickes; a No. 2, Dave Lutz--and isn’t blocking anyone.

Maybe it’s overrated?

“I don’t know who rated ‘em,” said Coach Frank Gansz. “No one’s ever asked me about rating the guys.

“I think you have to understand, you’re giving up a lot of sacks, you’re not running the ball well, they’re going to take a lot of heat.”

The Chiefs haven’t rushed for a touchdown all season.

They haven’t scored any kind of touchdown under Kenney.

They started with a defensive front of Bill Maas, the fifth overall selection in the 1984 draft; Mike Bell, second overall in ’79, and Neil Smith, second in ’88. They’re allowing more than 150 yards rushing a game and have just lost Maas to injury and Bell to a drug suspension. Today, Smith starts alongside two free agents.

Their tick-tock quarterback progression continues: Kenney, Todd Blackledge, Kenney, Frank Seurer, Kenney, Steve DeBerg, Kenney . . .

Aikman?


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