It’s RED FRIDAY, and that means the Kansas City Chiefs are playing football on Sunday. Granted this first contest is of the pre-season variety, but it still counts for fans, who haven’t seen their team play since Super Bowl LVII. This week they travel to New Orleans to visit the Saints.
One must wonder how NFL teams used to play six exhibition games in the past. Now the NFL plays just three, thanks to adding another regular season game two years ago. Still, the goal of the pre-season has changed over the years, and some coaches, treat them like scrimmages or opportunities to evaluate their players.
For Kansas City Chiefs Head Coach, Andy Reid, he likes to play his starters in all three contests. He feels it gets them ready for the regular season. However, he’s in the minority with most coaches.
On Sunday against the New Orleans Saints, he’ll likely give his starters a series or two on offense, then use his roster to finish out the modest game plan. That means, Patrick Mahomes, will get a chance to flash his magic with some new offensive weapons. Reid indicated after practice on Friday that his QBs would all play one quarter.
Defensively, the Chiefs will face a similar foe in Saints Quarterback, Derek Carr. It’ll be good to see their old Raiders friend in an NFC uniform, but it’s doubtful he plays long either.
Regardless of the length of time guys get on the field, the bottom line, avoid any real injuries. Those that won’t play Sunday include Turk Wharton, Jody Fortson, Kadarius Toney, Isiah Pacheco, and L’Jarius Sneed. Further, I’d be shocked if any of the players take a snap this preseason.
For the healthy, this is a big game for some guys trying to make an impact on the roster.
WR Justyn Ross has certainly received the most hype in training camp. As we mentioned in an earlier column about Ross and his potential, I just want him to catch a few passes, take a few hits and get back in the huddle. If he can do just that much Sunday, I’ll feel better about his chances.
QB Blaine Gabbert came over from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the off-season. In signing with KC, he takes over the backup role for the very effective signal caller, Chad Henne. There is some pressure in that job for Gabbert, but he’s also a seasoned veteran who should have a pretty good grasp of the offense. Further, he did serve as Tom Brady’s backup, so I’m confident he can get the job done should Mahomes go down with an injury.
TE Noah Grey should get plenty of reps after Travis Kelce ends his short tenure on the field Sunday. Gray has an opportunity to take the next step in the offense. He is very proficient at running routes, and has great hands, plus he has the chops to be an effective blocker, that combination makes him a perfect Andy Reid tight end. Still, he needs to emerge as the guy that can spell Kelce in the regular season.
DE Mike Danna to me is on the roster bubble. Though Chris Jones is still out over a contract dispute, Danna has a huge supporter in Defensive Coordinator, Steve Spagnuolo, but is that enough to make the final 53? Yes, he’s first on the depth chart thanks to the suspension of Charles Omenihu. However, he needs to earn that ranking.
Joshua Williams & Jaylen Watson made a terrific impact on the Chiefs defense a year ago considering they were both wide-eyed rookies. Usually, young players struggle to gain their footing at the NFL speed, but neither of them did. Not sure how much each will play Sunday but I’m curious to see how they perform with expectations attached.
Chamarri Conner from all accounts has had a solid camp. The rookie Safety has been working behind, Bryan Cook, who was stellar last season. Conner to me fits the prototypical safety you need in the back end of the defense. If the game isn’t too fast for him, I’m curious to see how he adjusts to the NFL game.
NOTE: On Sunday after the Chiefs Saints game our Chiefs Blitz Crew will do a post-game wrap on our YouTube Channel at 4:00 CST. So you don’t miss an episode, please subscribe to our Chiefs Blitz Podcast.