Kansas City Chiefs: 8 Players Who Will Be New Starters in Week 1 for Chiefs
Kansas City Chiefs head coach Romeo Crennel and general manager Scott Pioli have worked hard this offseason to find the right pieces to help build a good football team in 2012.
With the coaching staff and personnel constructed this offseason, the Chiefs hope to bounce back and take the AFC West title after falling one game short in 2011.
This year, the Chiefs are loaded with new faces and there will be a lot of new starters going into Week 1 of the regular season. Here are the new players you can expect to start on Sept. 9 when the Chiefs open the season at Arrowhead Stadium against the Atlanta Falcons.
Running Back: Peyton Hillis
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This may come off as a surprise to many Chiefs fans, but don't be angered. Peyton Hillis could very well be the starter for the first game of the season and may start more games than Jamaal Charles.
However, that does not determine who will get the most carries throughout the season.
As Charles tries to ease his way back into football after suffering a torn ACL, the Chiefs should let Hillis start things off and soon put Charles in. Even if Hillis starts more games than Charles, it will be Charles who ends up leading the team in carries, unlike 2010 when former head coach Todd Haley let Thomas Jones get 15 more carries than Charles.
Fullback: Shane Bannon
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Shane Bannon's only activity with the Chiefs was during the preseason as he spent all of last season on the team's practice squad as a rookie.
This year, the seventh-round pick out of Yale has an opportunity to start for the Chiefs at fullback now that the position is wide open, following the departure of Le'Ron McClain.
It is hard to hold Bannon to high standards since he was taken in the seventh round. But the Chiefs rushing game had a lot of success when Mike Cox paved the way, even though Cox went undrafted in 2008.
If no other fullback makes any noise during the preseason, Bannon could very well live the dream of being an NFL starter.
Wide Receiver: Jon Baldwin
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Jon Baldwin was Kansas City's No. 1 pick in the 2011 NFL draft. Baldwin missed a majority of training camp and the preseason during his rookie campaign. The absence carried over to the regular season as Baldwin appeared in only 11 games, catching only 21 passes.
Matt Cassel knows he has a gifted receiver in Baldwin and wants him to stay with the team all through training camp so he can establish a connection with him under Brian Daboll's new offense.
Baldwin's vertical can help Kansas City as the Chiefs are set with a strong core of receivers, if Dwayne Bowe signs a long-term extension soon.
If Baldwin survives training camp and is ready to go against the Falcons in Week 1, Baldwin could very well surprise a lot of fans after going unnoticed on the field last year.
Tight End: Kevin Boss
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The running back position is very similar to the situation at tight end. The Chiefs had players set to go for the 2011 season, but their starters at running back and tight end both suffered a torn ACL.
Tony Moeaki suffered his in the preseason finale in Green Bay, forcing him to miss all of the regular season. In his young, two-year career, Moeaki has missed more games than he has played in. With Kevin Boss now on the team, expect him to get a lot of action and help ease Moeaki's transition back to football.
Moeaki will still get significant playing time, but if the Chiefs want to use him, they will have to go slow as he is injury prone.
Center: Rodney Hudson
After Casey Wiegmann was not retained by the Chiefs, the door has opened for Rodney Hudson to be the team's new starting center.
Coming out of Florida State University, Hudson was taken in the second round by the Chiefs. Hudson started in only one game during his rookie season giving fans and the media little to go off when analyzing his level of play in the NFL.
By the time this season is over, everyone will have a better understanding of Hudson's ability to play center in the NFL after spending time as guard at FSU.
Right Tackle: Eric Winston
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Eric Winston in regarded as one of the best right tackles in the game today. Winston was signed in the offseason to a four-year deal worth $22 million.
Since being drafted by the Houston Texans in 2008, Winston earned his first career start on Nov. 19, 2006. Since his first start, Winston has not missed a game due to injury or suspension, starting 89 consecutive games for the Texans, including the two postseason games this past January.
The Chiefs got their biggest upgrade this offseason, making Winston a valuable pick up to help the Chiefs offense improve in 2012.
Nose Tackle: Dontari Poe
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As a current defensive coordinator of the Chiefs and a former defensive coordinator with the New England Patriots, fans are hoping that Crennel is reminded of Patriots nose tackle Vince Wilfork when looking at Dontari Poe. It has to be the case as the Chiefs did use the 11th pick on Poe.
The Chiefs decided to let Kelly Gregg go after his contract expired with the team this past offseason. Poe was not a fan favorite in Kansas City, but it is only a matter of time before Crennel and Pioli show us why Poe was taken in early in the draft.
Cornerback: Stanford Routt
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After former Chiefs cornerback Brandon Carr went on to sign with the Dallas Cowboys, Chiefs fans were glad to see that Stanford Routt was signed, as it seemed Carr's interest in returning to Kansas City was low.
Although Routt will be the first to admit that he has not been the most perfect corner, he can improve under accomplished defensive coaches in Crennel and Emmitt Thomas.