8:00 PM ET, August 30, 2007
Edward Jones Dome, Saint Louis, MO
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- If Dante Hall played against the Kansas City Chiefs in the regular season, it would definitely hold some importance. Now, the St. Louis Rams' new return man is rather blase about meeting the team that let him go, in the final preseason game Thursday night.
Hall does not view the annual Governor's Cup matchup as a chance to prove Chiefs coach Herman Edwards wrong. The Rams acquired Hall, who has returned 11 kicks for touchdowns in his career but whose numbers have declined the last two seasons, in April for a fifth-round draft pick.
"He chose to get rid of me, and I can't really have any hard feelings," Hall said. "What good is it going to do? If I return one in the preseason against my old team, what is that going to do?"
Hall doesn't expect to get many opportunities, in any case. The final preseason game generally is a time to hold back starters, settle final roster spots and keep it all vanilla.
Last year, the Rams started only four regulars in the final tuneup. Coach Scott Linehan said Tuesday he wanted everybody to prepare as if they were playing, but hadn't decided how much, if any, his front-liners would be used. Running back Steven Jackson will get his third straight ceremonial start before heading to the sideline.
The Chiefs' Edwards also is likely to rest most of his important players.
"It's different being on the other side of the ball, but it's hard to get excited because I probably won't see much action," Hall said. "Just watching film on these guys and talking about Kansas City as an opponent is just not registering right, but it's the business."
The Chiefs, who have won four of the last five in the series, will get their first look at a possible replacement for Hall. Last week they signed Eddie Drummond, a former Pro Bowl player with four career punt returns for touchdowns who was cut by the Lions.
Players on both teams are unlikely to get fired up about playing for the Governor's Cup, which sees the light of day for a few minutes every year at about this time and then seemingly vanishes.
"What makes it tough is it's just a preseason game and it's the last one, and most guys that are going to be on the team are not even playing that much," Hall said. "So I'm not going to sugarcoat it: It really doesn't have any impact."
The game will be noteworthy for the Chiefs (0-3) in at least one regard. Running back Larry Johnson, who ended a 25-day holdout before signing the richest contract in franchise history, expects to get his first playing time in the preseason.
At first, Edwards said Johnson would not play. But Johnson wants to get on the field before the season opener and his coach has relented. Johnson set an NFL record with 416 carries last year for a franchise-record 1,789 yards, and wants to work off some rust.
"Football shape is being able to cut, move, accelerate, run plays and come back to the huddle, then 35 seconds and run another play," Johnson said. "It's all about being able to move around quicker and accelerate and make quick decisions."
Edwards said he thought Johnson would be OK for a couple of carries.
"What happens to all running backs, even the great ones, is they have to get hit," Edwards said. "We're going to be careful with him and bring him along."
The game will be the last action in a while for Rams cornerback Fakhir Brown, due to begin a four-game suspension Friday for violating the league's substance abuse policy. Third-year player Ronald Bartell is expected to get the starts during his absence.
Chiefs defensive end Jared Allen, suspended for a DUI for the first two games, also will make his final appearance before an enforced absence.
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