Chiefs at Rams Game Preview: Roster Spots Still Up for Grabs
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The Chiefs got off to a good start this preseason against the Cardinals as the first-team offense produced 14 points, and the first-team defense didn't allow the Cardinals to score. Matt Cassel looked more than capable of managing the offense and routinely found the open receivers. Jamaal Charles appears to have plenty of burst in his legs almost a year removed from an ACL injury.
The Chiefs look to build upon that solid performance against the St. Louis Rams, but they will also be hoping the reserves can play a little better against a team that won only two games last season. The reserves allowed 17 points in three quarters and scored 13, and although the score of a preseason game is not vitally important, you would like to see some reserves making a few more plays.
There are also several roles and roster spots still up for grabs, and every preseason game are going to carry a little more weight than a practice.
Matt Cassel needs to continue to be smart with the football and get the ball to the open receivers. Despite being an unpopular figure in Kansas City, he gives the Chiefs the best chance to win. Until the Chiefs can find someone better, they should hope for the best with Cassel.
The bad Cassel will make bad decisions when he is pressured, so it's vital for the revamped offensive line to give Cassel a clean pocket, and the Rams have a much better pass rush than the Cardinals.
The threat of the run will help the pass protection and give Cassel the ability to use play-action to fool the defense. A good example of the play-action was a 29-yard pass to Dexter McCluster against the Cardinals. That's the power of a healthy Jamaal Charles.
Charles and Peyton Hillis should be a good tandem, but the No. 3 running back is still a competition. It could be Shaun Draughn or Cyrus Gray. Gray had the better night against the Cardinals, but Draughn is still holding a slight edge in the competition.
It's a tough call for the Chiefs because Draughn would be a more logical replacement for Hillis while Gray would be a more logical Charles replacement in the event of an injury. Preseason performance and special teams ability might make a difference.
According to Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com, the team announced that Dwayne Bowe has signed his franchise tag and will join the team. Bowe's return means there will be fewer passes to go around for Jon Baldwin, Dexter McCluster and Steve Breaston.
Either Breaston or McCluster is likely to end up purely as a reserve, and the preseason action against the Rams could be their last in-game opportunity to impress the coaching staff.
Ricky Stanzi will be the No. 2 quarterback against the Rams, pushing Brady Quinn down the depth chart. Quinn looked suspect against the Cardinals, and it wouldn't be surprising if Stanzi maintains the No. 2 job into the regular season.
Stanzi didn't look any better than Quinn against the Cardinals, so there's certainly still opportunity for Quinn to fight back in this competition. The Chiefs are hoping the offensive line can keep Cassel on the field, so they don't have to turn to either of their backups during the regular season.
What position are you most excited to watch against the Rams?
The Chiefs defense is expected to be the strong point of the team in 2012, and they demonstrated that against the Cardinals by limiting a suspect offense to zero points.
Dontari Poe continues to be the subject of much talk, but he didn't look bad in the first preseason game and was routinely drawing double teams. If that's all he can do, he will still free up Derrick Johnson to make plays. It will be interesting to see if the rookie made improvements in the last week as far as using his hands and getting a lower pad level.
The other area of concern for the Chiefs is at cornerback. Brandon Flowers is nursing a heel injury, and it has caused a bit of a trickle-down problem for the Chiefs. Jalil Brown is starting in place of Flowers, and that's not a major concern, but that also means Javier Arenas will be forced into action as the slot cornerback.
The Chiefs even had safety Travis Daniels play cornerback when Flowers was first injured, according to the Kansas City Star. Unfortunately, the Rams don’t have the type of receivers who will put a lot of pressure on the secondary, so the true test may have to wait.
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