In four hours, the Chiefs will open the preseason at Arizona – a place where they let one get away last year in the regular season.
Football is here.
Not REAL football, but football.
Football is more than just entertainment. It’s a lifestyle of barbeque in the morning, beer drinking with close friends, loud music, high-fiving strangers, tomahawk chops, pad hitting, helmets crashing, record-breaking, loud and proud team cheering, red and yellow wearing, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS FOOTBALL SEASON.
The plan is for the starters to play the entire first quarter, the 2nd string the second quarter and half the third quarter, with third and fourth teamers finishing the game. There will be a lot of things to look for, so lets get right into.
First on the agenda is the Offensive Line, which was ranked as one of the worst in the entire league in 2014. After making a few changes things are hoping to look up this season. The addition of Pro Bowl guard Ben Grubbs via trade with the New Orleans Saints for a 5th round pick to start on the left side next to 2013 No. 1 overall draft pick Eric Fisher, veteran Paul Fanaika via free agency from Arizona and rookie Mitch Morse, who is capable of playing any position along the line, are key pieces in upgrading the line. Announced on Wednesday, starting on the OL will be: LT Fisher, LG Grubbs, C Morse, RG Zach Fulton and RT Jeff Allen. Now this isn’t locked in as the regular season lineup, but keep an eye on how they protect AS11 throughout the first quarter tonight, giving him time to get the ball down field to those wide receivers and how well these five, hold the line and shift the line where it needs to go to give Jamaal Charles lanes to take the rock to the house. He doesn’t need much space or time when compared to other backs in the league, but he is coming off a career-worst yards per carry.
Don’t sleep on our second string guys fighting for a job like tackle Donald Stephenson, center Eric Kush, Derrick Sherrod, and Fanaika.
At QB, it’ll be fun to see how Alex Smith meshes with new No. 1 Jeremy Maclin and the rest of the WR core + TE Travis Kelce. As of now it seems to be clear that Chase Daniel is going to be the guy running No. 2 behind, but, keep a close eye on 2nd-year man Aaron Murray out of Georgia. He will get the most reps this game; time to show a little bit of that talent off that set so many records with in the SEC and Georgia. Plan on watching him over the next four pre-season games making a strong push to unseat Daniel as the No. 2.
Charcandrick West has shown during training camp huge leaps from a year ago. This guy can fly (4.26 speed). Good out of the backfield and can catch, well, a smooth runner with great vision who can get that ball down the field with a quickness. It is very clear no one is unseating JC25 from the starting position, but there is a chance he will at least earn some extra snaps in place of Knile Davis if he continued to show out, especially since Cyrus Gray was released as camp opened.
At wide receiver, it’s a shock how much talent we truly have there after not having any WR touchdowns just a year ago. Especially keep an eye on the battle for the No. 2 WR spot between Albert Wilson & rookie Freak of Nature Chris Conley. De’Anthony Thomas continues to show his speed at camp and he is transitioning well at WR, but let’s see how he does at gamespeed. Dexter McCluster had some impressive moments early in his career, but never lived up to the billing, Da’Ron Brown, a 7th round pick out of Northern Illinois, has kind of faded in the background but, I wouldn’t cross him off just yet. He has talent if he didn’t GM John Dorsey and Head Coach Andy Reid wouldn’t have drafted him if they didn’t think he had a chance to help the team. If the Chiefs keep six receivers, he could very well be the guy. He also has excellent speed and could help out on special teams. Missouri wide receiver L’Damian Washington is a guy who could challenge for that spot, too.
Defensively, the guys to keep an eye on are Eric Berry, as he returns to the field for game action since battling cancer, the nose tackle rotation (Jaye Howard, Mike Devito, and rookie Rakeem Nune) in absence of Dontari Poe and players returning from injury – Derrick Johnson and DeVito. If Devito slides over to the middle at any point expect to see a Dee Ford or Mike Catapano step in at DE during those snaps. Another two names to watch out for is 5th round rookie linebacker Ramik Wilson and undrafted free agent Justin March-Lillard, who both have continually impressed throughout camp. If they can convert that to live action on Saturday and moving forward they could be an huge addition to our defense.
The Chiefs secondary was one of the best in the league last season and it took a step forward in the offseason. Marcus Peters, the 1st round pick out of Washington, has been a tremendous corner so far throughout camp. Hopefully he can carry that over because, if he can the absence of veteran Sean Smith, who is suspended for a DUI for the 1st three games, wont hurt as much. The combination of Peters, Phillip Gaines and another rookie, Steven Neslon, could be a deadly one if they all continue on the road they are on. Berry’s return to play in Preseason week 1 after being diagnosed with cancer just 8 months ago, makes the rest of this pale in comparison.
This team is looking to cause major damage this season and all have one goal in mind, hoisting that Lombardi Trophy above there heads in Super Bowl 50.
Until next time.
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