What We've Learned About Every Positional Unit so Far in Chiefs' Preseason
Chiefs head coach and defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel and offensive coordinator Brian Daboll want to bring out the best in each of their players, regardless if the games they are playing are just exhibition contests. The Chiefs coaching staff is getting just that from their players.
Let's look over each positional unit and briefly go over what we know so far.
Matt Cassel looked great with the Chiefs Friday night, completing 6-of-7 passes with a touchdown pass and led them to two touchdowns on two drives while under center. Behind Cassel, there was nothing exciting.
Brady Quinn and Ricky Stanzi both struggled. Quinn came in with the second-team offense and threw a pick and completed only two passes while Stanzi completed seven.
This Saturday against the St. Louis Rams, Stanzi will be the first quarterback to come off the bench, according to a Facebook post by 610 Sports. The Chiefs need more production out of their backups to make sure there is a reliable player behind Cassel in 2012.
If the Chiefs' rushing attack plans on returning to its 2010 form and lead the league in rushing, it is certainly an achievable task.
Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis missed 20 games combined last season, and the two are making progress as they rebound this year. Meanwhile, Crennel and Daboll are seeking to see who will be behind those two tailbacks and are witnessing a battle for that spot.
The Chiefs ran the ball 41 times with Cryus Gray earning 15 feeds and Shaun Draughn getting 12 carries. Both players also scored a rushing touchdown in Friday's win. Kansas City only had five in all of 2011.
We know the Chiefs will be good running the ball. We also know that there is a hot battle behind Charles and Hillis. What we don't know is which player will claim that spot.
Not much is known about the Chiefs' receiving corps after the pass-catchers came away with only 14 receptions. The team hopes to improve from that total in Week 2 of the preseason.
One player we got a chance to check out was Dexter McCluster. His role has changed in his two years in the league. The versatile scatback caught three passes for 45 yards, helping Cassel immensely on their opening drive.
Cassel, Quinn and Stanzi hope to establish a better rapport with their receivers in the next game. By the time the game against the Rams is over, hopefully, we can look back and talk about Jon Baldwin. He's getting more reps as a receiver due to Dwayne Bowe's absence.
Chiefs fans are ecstatic to see what Tony Moeaki and Kevin Boss can do together to help Cassel this season. The two went quiet in Week 1, not allowing fans to get a small taste of what the tight ends will look like. However, there is one tight end who Chiefs fans should keep an eye on as he makes a big switch in his career.
Steve Maneri was a backup offensive tackle and a backup tight end last season for the Chiefs. This year, he switched his jersey to 87 after wearing 68 the previous season. Maneri is looking to be a full-time tight end rather than carry partial duties in two different positions.
Maneri caught three passes and led all pass-catchers with 67 yards in Friday's game. Maneri has a knack to get open and make a catch while gaining a chunk of yards for the Chiefs offense. Can we see him duplicate that performance in more preseason games? If so, Maneri will lock himself a roster spot as the backup tight end behind Moeaki and Boss.
Offensive linemen get the least amount of attention from fans and the media because of the position they play. They don't accumulate any statistics that get posted online for fans to see.
However, anyone who watched the Chiefs win Friday night will tell you their offensive line played a huge role in helping the Chiefs win. When an offensive lineman blocks a defender and creates a lane for a running back or gives the quarterback time to make the right pass, that is their version of a touchdown.
The Chiefs paved the way for Cyrus and Draughn, allowing them to find the end zone with a rushing touchdown. Even better, the Chiefs' offensive line allowed Cassel, Quinn and Stanzi to do what they needed to do and helped them stay on their feet all game long.
The Chiefs gave up zero sacks against the Cardinals and want to keep that total the same or close to zero for the remainder of the preseason.
If the Chiefs' offensive line keeps this up going into the regular season, elite pass-rushers will find themselves in a pickle when facing Kansas City.
The Chiefs defensive line is a work in progress. Fans are hoping to see bigger things out of defensive ends and top-five picks in Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson. Rookie nose tackle Dontari Poe also got off to a slow start in his debut, but is taking in the speed of the game and can progress in the next couple of weeks.
Jerrell Powe, Brandon Bair and Jerome Long shined contributing in the Chiefs seven-sack total. The starting defensive line appears to be set, but Crennel can find good defensive linemen and he must like what he is seeing out of some of his backups.
The Chiefs have Pro Bowlers Derrick Johnson and Tamba Hali back doing what they do best. Hali forced Cardinals quarterback John Skelton to get rid of the ball sooner than he wanted to, forcing an interception.
Justin Houston proves that he can carry over what he did in the latter part of his rookie campaign to this preseason, as well as the regular season.
Backup linebackers Caleb Campbell, Edgar Jones and Cameron Sheffield got in on the fun, and each came away with a sack during Friday's defensive-sack celebration.
The Chiefs know what their starting lineup is capable of. But, the backup linebackers could be more than serviceable.
Brandon Flowers is expected to miss his second preseason game with a bruised foot, but it appears he will be fine by the time the regular season starts. The Chiefs are glad that Eric Berry has fully recovered from his injury after he got a few snaps in Friday's game.
Abram Elam, statistically, shined as the top defensive back after taking advantage of Hali's pass rush. This forced Skelton to throw up a pass, and Elam made the pick for a return of 37 yards.
The Chiefs did a good job of covering their receivers, forcing the Cardinals quarterbacks to hold on to the ball longer than they wanted to and get taken down with seven sacks.
The Chiefs are seeking a dominant return game since the Dante Hall days. Do the Chiefs have a secret weapon in Devon Wylie?
Wylie came up with a 32-yard punt return while also drawing a 15-yard penalty to help the Chiefs start with good field position. If Wylie can take it to the house on one of his preseason returns, it will give fans the confidence they need that the Chiefs will be good in the return game this year.
Javier Arenas appears to be the primary kick returner for the Chiefs.
Kicking and Punting
Ryan Succop had no problems connecting on two field goals and three extra point attempts last week. Dustin Colquitt did well on his holds and punts.
I'm not quite sure what to make out of Matt Szymanski being on the team. He went in for a couple of kickoffs and punted the ball a couple of times. I doubt there is competition for the job as the kicker and punter.
Is Szymanski playing to be a backup? If Crenel and special teams coach Tom McMahon want him to be a backup punter and backup kicker, more power to them. It is rare to see though. Time will tell where Szymanski will be by the time the Chiefs put together their 53-man roster.
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