Kansas City Chiefs: 5 Sleepers to Watch in Preseason and Training Camp
With the 2012 preseason rapidly approaching for the Kansas City Chiefs, there are five sleepers that will lay any doubts to rest.
As seconds dwindle from the Chiefs countdowns occupying Kansas City computer screens today, the scent of barbecue will progressively stain the air surrounding One Arrowhead Drive.
The instant that a spinning football first breaks the silhouette of Arrowhead Stadium, an army of NFL players will begin vying for Romeo Crennel's attention.
Training camp and the preseason will become distant memories after the next calendar flip.
But before then, teams will regret sleeping on the following players with eyes wide shut.
5. Brandon Siler (No. 52, LB)
Never underestimate the odds.
As Brandon Siler gazed out of his Kansas City-bound plane window last offseason, he undoubtedly rehearsed success stories in his head. After all, he was signed with the intention of competing for Jovan Belcher's starting job.
Siler breezed through training camp. Then, on the Chiefs' final snapped ball on Missouri Western State's campus, the linebacker abruptly tore his Achilles.
To a far lesser extent, the durability issues that doomed Siler's 2011 season have shadowed him (sore ankle) into the ongoing preseason.
Although Belcher owns a two-year edge in experience under Crennel's system, the duo's talent resides in the same neighborhood.
Siler will secure a spot on special teams regardless of his defensive progress. However, overtaking the starting position is, and will continue to be, an uphill struggle for him.
But as Brandon Siler's season-ending injury proved: Anything is possible.
4. De'Quan Menzie (No. 49, S)
Kyle Rivas/Getty Images
This offseason, the Chiefs' fifth-round pick has constantly fallen victim to the injury bug. Menzie suffered from the same tendency during his stay at Alabama.
His most recent (undisclosed) setback caused the talented rookie to leave Wednesday's practice. In other words, don't bank on seeing No. 49 suited up in Chiefs red tonight.
But if Menzie can recover and remain at full strength, he'll distinguish himself on-screen.
A healthy slice of the football community presumed that Menzie was chosen due to Kansas City's lack of depth at safety. Although that's plausible, Romeo Crennel's recently released depth chart pegs him as a the third-string right cornerback (behind Stanford Routt and Javier Arenas).
The fit makes sense. Despite being outshone by his collegiate counterparts in Alabama's secondary, Menzie routinely excelled in slot coverage.
The two scenarios aren't mutually exclusive—Menzie will suffice at either position if he's thrown into the fire.
3. Shaun Draughn (No. 32, RB)
Odds are that nine out of 10 fans' eyebrows rise with uncertainty when Shaun Draughn's name is dropped.
He appears destined to crack the 53-man roster, yet he rarely draws media attention. Draughn's rushes don't elicit reach-for-the-sky astonishment like Jamaal Charles', nor cringing empathy like Peyton Hillis'.
But he always manages to contribute.
Draughn's most distinctive asset is his agility. He doesn't embody game-breaking speed, but he compensates with his shiftiness and physicality.
His primary competition is rookie Cyrus Gray. While it's hard to envision the dynamic rookie failing to survive the final cut, Draughn shows no intention of budging from his current slot as the third tailback. Although Dexter McCluster is officially tagged as a wide receiver, his backfield experience spoils the practicality of retaining four running backs.
The two rushers show promise.
But while the Chiefs front office buys into what Draughn and Gray are selling, the product is currently overstocked.
2. Anthony Toribio (No. 98, DT)
Two seasons ago, Anthony Toribio was the guy who incited curious finger points—"Who's that?"
Last year, Toribio was admitted as an all-work-no-play member of the practice squad.
In 2012, he's on the brink of booting the franchise's first-round pick to the bench and capturing a starting role.
Need more reason(s) to root for him?
Toribio is an undrafted free agent from Carson-Newman College (Division II). He's also a 315-pound defensive tackle that pedals an undersized bike at training camp, calls a bulldog the "love of [his] life" and spontaneously kicks it with stray cats:
Chilling with the Missouri Western campus catlockerz.com/s/231671824— Anthony Toribio (@Ribzz93) August 6, 2012
But as Nick Toney of KCChiefs.com reveals, there's substance behind the fun-loving run-stuffer.
As expected, Dontari Poe's transition from a 4-3 Memphis scheme to a two-gap 3-4 defense in the pros has encountered its share of road blocks. Toribio has clutched and capitalized on the opportunity due to his fundamentally sound technique.
It's safe to say that sections of Arrowhead will be rendered dumbfounded as "Anthony Toribio" reverberates through tonight's starting lineup.
1. Josh Bellamy (No. 8, WR)
Proclaiming an undrafted rookie as a lock before the first preseason game is like lightning striking twice in the same bottle—it's unheard of.
Josh Bellamy snapped a Master Lock on the final 53-man roster. Mark it.
Bellamy has garnered enough attention throughout the offseason OTAs and training camp to rival that of some Chiefs veterans.
The wideout is currently penciled in behind Steve Breaston and Dexter McCluster on the team's initial depth chart. Bellamy also doubled as a defensive back at certain points throughout his collegiate career, which is an ideal résumé booster for an undrafted rookie.
When the surprising standout darts across the field, a common theme seems to take place:
Josh Bellamy might be a sleeper.
But if actions speak volumes, his highlight reel would give narcoleptics insomnia.