Five Things to Watch in Chiefs camp

Training camp is upon us, which means football season is back, fans! Helmets crashing, pads clashing and fans cheering. There is a lot to look forward to in the upcoming season. However, there is still a lot to do and see before we go live. Here’s some things to keep an eye on in the upcoming weeks as we go through training camp and into preseason.

AARON MURRAY

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Murray, the 2014 5th round pick out of University of Georgia, was a projected first round QB before tearing his ACL with two games left in his senior season. Murray finished his 4-year career at UGA with 13,166 passing yards and 121 TD, making him the all-time SEC passing yards leader and all time SEC TD passes leader. Newly acquired third round pick, WR Chris Conley, was one of the men receiving the ball from Murray. With a little background on Murray you can see he is more than capable of commanding an offense. He now has had a full season to learn the system. So be looking for him putting up a serious battle and trying to unseat incumbent Chase Daniel from that backup QB position. It won’t be easy as Daniel is a proven backup who can win games. If Murray does manage to take the No. 2 spot, expect John Dorsey to trade or release Daniel and his whopping $4.5 million salary.

OFFENSIVE LINE
It is no secret that the Chiefs offensive line last season was ugly, allowing QB Alex Smith to be sacked and driven into the turf a horrific 45 times. A QB being under that kind of pressure can make a season rough and tough to put points on the board, establish a consistent running game, despite having one of the best backs in the league, or throw the ball downfield. Unless something unforeseen happens you can expect Eric Fisher to have the left lackle position all locked up, offseason addition Ben Grubbs, who was acquired from the Saints for a 5th round pick, at left guard, but the other three sports are all up for grabs.

At center, it’ll be third year man Eric Kush – a 2013 6th round pick draft – and Mizzou rookie Mitch Morse, a surprising high draft pick. Morse is very versatile and has the ability to play guard and also played tackle in college. Other names for the position include Garrett Frye, Marcus Reed, & Daniel Munyer, but all are on the outside looking in. There’s just four guards on the roster, as of now. other than Grubbs.  Competing for the two spots, along with Morse, will be mammoth Paul Fanaika (6′ 5″ 327), who was acquired from the Arizona Cardinals during the off season, 2nd year player Zach Fulton, who started all 16 games last season, veteran tackle Jeff Allen and Jarrod Pughsley, who is unlikely to make the team. There’s five tackles other than Eric Fisher. The two biggest names fighting for the right tackle position are previously mentioned , Allen who missed last season due to injury and local product (Blue Springs) Donald Stephenson, who lost his starting position after being suspended for the 1st four games of the 2014 season. There’s also Tavon Rooks, a former Green Bay 1st round pick, Derek Sherrod and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif.

DONTARI POE INJURY

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Dontari Poe is out indefinitely after a recent  back surgery. The Chiefs face Arian Foster, CJ Anderson, Eddie Lacy and Jeremy Hill just in the first four weeks alone. We have to keep that line tight to keep teams from gashing us for large chunks of rushing yards out the gate. Poe takes on multiple blockers, which is instrumental in clogging running lanes and freeing up pass rushers Justin Houston and Tamba Hali. Jaye Howard is the guy announced to get the reps as Poe recovers but, some names that might be worth watching are rookie from Southern Miss Rakeem Nunez and Mike DeVito, who is a starting DE as of now but, could shift over. The return of Derrick Johnson will help fill that void in stopping the run.

SECONDARY
The Chiefs re-signed Ron Parker to a 5-year deal, picked up safety Tyvon Branch formerly of the Raiders during free agency, drafted the freakishly good Marcus Peters with the 18th overall pick out of Washington, drafted the underrated Steven Nelson in the 3rd round out of Oregon State. Then, just two days ago we got the amazing news that Eric Berry has beat cancer is back on the practice field.

At safety, Parker and the returning Berry, along with a very talented Husain Abdullah and Branch. The second level of the secondary is going to be very good with any of these four – who are great at defending the pass and getting to the ball, as well as dropping from coverage to get after the QB or RB, which is a tremendous asset to have as our run defense was one of the worst in the league outside the red zone last season – on the field. With the three-game suspension of Sean Smith, Peters and Phillip Gaines will be starting at corner. Whoever gets the No. 1 job to start the season, you have to believe the other will be playing opposite of Smith as the No. 2 when Smith returns. Nelson, 3rd-year player Sander Commings – who has been plagued with injury bug since he entered the league, 3rd-year Marcus Cooper – who struggled last season, and fourth-year Jamell Fleming – who replaced Cooper last season – are also in the mix.

Lastly, I would say its unlikely, but there is the possibility that Peters and Gaines could unseat Smith from the starting CB position. With tough games right out of the gate, if these guys can shutdown the likes of the Texans, Broncos and Packers, then maybe just maybe Dorsey and Reid could shock people in not giving Smith his starting job back in turn making him to0 expensive to just ride the bench or play a backup role. Only time will tell but, never say never.

WIDE RECEIVERS

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Finally, the wide receiver battle. Everyone knows the Chiefs had zero TD’s to a WR last season. That simply has to change this year. The offensive line will be better, giving Smith more time. Dwayne Bowe, who many loved but he simply wasn’t getting the job done, Donnie Avery and AJ Jenkins are gone. Enter Jeremy Maclin, who signed a 5-year, $55 million contract. What about the other receiver spot? Albert Wilson and Conley are the front runners and DAT, Jason Avant are likely to make the roster, and even throw in UDFA Kenny Cook into the mix. Wilson was announced as getting the other starter, but don’t count out Conley, who is freakishly athletic and has every measurable you could want in a WR. He left practice yesterday with a knee strain, however, nothing has been announced on the injury and it didn’t sound serious. DeAnthony Thomas may see some outside play and you can expect to see in the slot a lot with his size in speed to break away. Avant who is aging but, can still play is a great piece and a reliable veteran who can help the young players. Cook showed a lot of promise in OTA’s. This group is better compared to 2014. Every player mentioned, with the exception of aging Avant, have speeds around 4.4 or under, so one thing is for sure secondaries are going to have to be very fast or they will be left behind.

So much excitement to look forward to in the upcoming weeks. Until next time fans.

GO CHIEFS #CHIEFSSUPERBOWL50CHAMPS

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