5 Kansas City Chiefs Who Need to Step Up in 2012

Bill Robbins@bill_kc28Correspondent IFebruary 10, 2012

5 Kansas City Chiefs Who Need to Step Up in 2012

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    Last season, the Kansas City Chiefs took a step back themselves by going 7-9, just one year after they won the AFC West and hosted a playoff game.

    If they want to have any chance at winning their second division title in three years, many players will have to up their games to the next level this season.

    Here are five players that the Chiefs absolutely need to step up in 2012.

Allen Bailey

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    In his rookie season with the Chiefs, Allen Bailey showed flashes of greatness towards the end of the campaign.

    He finished the year with 10 tackles and a sack, but also racked up many QB hurries as well.

    Bailey was drafted by KC for his pass-rushing ability that he put on display at the University of Miami.

    It's time that he shows it early and often in his sophomore season in the NFL in 2012.

Rodney Hudson

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    Unlike many players on this list, Rodney Hudson hardly played at all last season.

    The Florida State product started just one game at left guard, which isn't even the position where he is being groomed to play for the Chiefs in the future.

    With veteran Casey Weigmann likely retiring this offseason, the Rodney Hudson era as the Chiefs center should kick off this season.

    KC will be counting on him to step right in and improve its interior offensive line for the '12 season and beyond.

Matt Cassel

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    In his two-plus seasons as the team's starting QB, Matt Cassel has underachieved.

    After being selected to the Pro Bowl in 2010, the former USC backup played just nine games last season and threw nearly as many touchdowns as interceptions.

    If this offense is going to go anywhere next season with new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, then Cassel will have to play better.

    Needless to say, the Chiefs desperately need their quarterback to step up and play like he did two seasons ago, and they need it to happen this season.

Wallace Gilberry

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    Chiefs DE Wallace Gilberry was a pass-rushing monster in 2010.

    Last year, he fell off the map on this defense.

    The former Crimson Tide star finished with just 2.5 sacks and was never able to get it going from his defensive end position.

    Even though he is a backup, Gilberry is still one of the better pass rushers on this defense, and KC needs him to play a bigger role in 2012.

Jonathan Baldwin

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    Wideout Jonathan Baldwin was arguably the most disappointing rookie last season for the Chiefs.

    Before the season even started, he got into a fight with teammate Thomas Jones in the locker room and ended up missing most of the preseason and the first five games of the regular season because of the scuffle.

    When he did begin playing, he was out of sync with the offense and only managed to pick up 254 receiving yards and a touchdown for the season.

    The Chiefs need him to step up this season in order to give QB Matt Cassel and the offense another legitimate down-field threat that can stretch opposing defenses from week to week.