Kansas City Chiefs: 6 Potential Sleepers to Watch for in Training Camp
In every successful NFL season, there are players who begin the year under the radar and finish by becoming a face of their respective team.
After a disastrous 2011, the Kansas City Chiefs will need a host of players to step up and become viable starters if they want to win the AFC West.
A number of stars are returning from season-ending injuries, but those players will surely be stepping back into their starting roles.
Jammal Charles, Eric Berry and Tony Moeaki will all be welcome additions, but here are some sleepers on the Chiefs roster that could be household names when 2012 is over.
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With uncertainty surrounding the contract situation of receiver Dwayne Bowe, there could be some extra reps at the position during camp.
Fresno State product Devon Wylie just might be on the business end of those extra touches when camp opens Friday.
Wylie is going to face some stiff competition in the form of Steve Breaston and Jonathan Baldwin.
Baldwin has all of the physical tools to become an elite wideout at the NFL level, and he may just become the guy if the Bowe contract issue isn't resolved after this season.
Former Michigan Wolverine Steve Breaston also proved to be a valuable asset last year, and he was an absolute beast on third downs, converting 39 of them.
To make a splash, Wylie is going to have to be special.
He will also probably get a fair amount of looks at both returner spots in order to give Javier Arenas and Dexter McCluster some rest.
Wylie has tremendous upside and has been likened to Wes Welker, but he is going to have to play huge during camp if he wants to see the field with regularity in September.
Illinois tackle Jeff Allen was the second selection for Kansas City in this year's draft, which seemed to be focused on adding some much needed depth the offensive line.
Allen could very well move inside to guard when the regular season starts.
Incumbent Ryan Lilja is not getting any younger, and admitted that his play last season was not up to par.
His injured ankle might place Allen behind the eight ball considering he missed many of the spring OTA's, but he has youth on his side.
Lilja will have to have a terrible camp to lose his job, but don't surprised if Allen gets the nod sometime later in 2012.
Jovan Belcher and Brandon Siler
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Jovan Belcher's tenure as a Chief has been somewhat of an eyebrow-raiser. He has played pretty well at the inside linebacker spot, but fans always seem to want to replace him.
Belcher is never going to be an elite guy in the middle, but he also is a valuable thumper next to Derrick Johnson.
He had 87 tackles last season, and Belcher has started in 31 games as a Chief. His play can't be overlooked since being signed as rookie free agent in 2009.
However, Belcher is going to face some real competition from former Charger Brandon Siler in training camp this year.
Siler was expected to make a push for a starting role in 2011, but suffered a torn Achilles tendon during the preseason.
This season, these two will most likely be in one of the more intense battles in training camp, and the winner will have the privilege of playing in between three of best young linebackers in the league.
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This may be a deep sleeper, but Cyrus Gray is a very capable back. With Jamaal Charles coming back from injury, he just may get a chance early on.
Gray was a standout during his tenure at Texas A&M, using his vision and burst to rack up 1,300 yards and 12 touchdowns during his junior year.
Jamaal Charles remains one of brightest young stars in the league, but he will be eased back into duty after last year's gruesome knee injury.
Kansas City also signed Peyton Hillis to help carry some of the load, but if Charles has any setbacks, look for Gray to see some action early in 2012.
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It may sound crazy to call an All- Pro linebacker a sleeper, but Tamba Hali still remains one of the most criminally underrated players in the league.
When Jared Allen left in 2008, he left a huge void in the Kansas City defense. The season after his departure was rough, and the Chiefs finished last in the NFL in sacks.
New defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast was switching to a 3-4 defense, and many wondered of Hali could make the difficult switch from defensive end to outside linebacker.
Hali thrived in the role and harassed quarterbacks at an alarming rate, despite the fact that Kansas City had no viable pass rushing threat to compliment him.
2012 could be different, as the Chiefs selected linebacker Justin Houston in the third round of last year's draft, and the former Georgia Bulldog showed some real promise late last season.
Houston finished his rookie campaign with 5.5 sacks, and if his development continues, look for Tamba Hali to have an outstanding year.