Breaking Down Kansas City's Biggest Training Camp Battles
With training camp just upon us, the Kansas City Chiefs are making their way to St. Joseph, Mo. soon to begin preparing for the upcoming season. This year's training camp will draw a lot of attention from fans and the media as it is the first one under new head coach Andy Reid.
Although some spots appear to be locked down, some are up for grabs, and a few newcomers have a chance to contribute right away.
Training camp battles come down to which players are performing well in August and whether or not they can make an impact this year.
In this slideshow, we will break down six training camp battles that will take place soon in St. Joseph.
No. 3 Quarterback: Ricky Stanzi vs. Tyler Bray
The No. 3 quarterback spot may mean nothing to fans. But for Ricky Stanzi and Tyler Bray, it’s a matter of trying to earn a spot on the team.
Stanzi was drafted in 2011 but has yet to play in a regular-season contest. Bray caught a lot of eyes during his collegiate career with Tennessee, but he went undrafted this past year.
While most fans will turn away from preseason games in the fourth quarter, the Chiefs will keep a close eye on these two men to see who can finish strong and possibly lead the team to victory, if given a situation where the game is close.
No. 2 Wide Receiver: Jon Baldwin vs. Donnie Avery
Jon Baldwin has been a major disappointment since joining the NFL. He finished sixth on the team in receptions, and his role diminished throughout the season. He started just seven games.
Meanwhile, Donnie Avery brings some mature veteran experience after starting 15 games with the Indianapolis Colts. He’s not the most reliable target on the field, but he can make plays at times to help move the ball.
The Chiefs hope for Baldwin to outplay Avery, so their 2011 first-round pick doesn’t go to waste, but at this rate, Baldwin might be the odd man out.
Starting Tight End: Tony Moeaki vs. Anthony Fasano
Anthony Fasano is not the first or second option on the field for quarterbacks to throw to. But he was a threat in the end zone, catching 23 touchdowns in five years with the Miami Dolphins.
With Tony Moeaki’s injury problems, which forced him to miss all of OTAs and minicamp, it is hard to make a case for him to win this battle. If Moeaki can erase those problems and stay on the field, Reid and his staff will have a tough decision when choosing a starter.
Starting Left Guard: Geoff Schwartz vs. Jeff Allen
Jeff Allen unexpectedly became the primary left guard early last season due to injuries with multiple offensive linemen. In 13 starts, Allen had an average rookie season, allowing three sacks and committing just four penalties.
It is a close call between Allen and Geoff Schwartz, who did not start last year for the Minnesota Vikings. Schwartz, however, did start every game in 2010 with the Carolina Panthers. But his five penalties and six allowed sacks played a part in the team’s 2-14 season.
Although younger and with less experience, Allen could still come away as the starter. Schwartz’s injury in 2011 kept him away from getting a start last year.
Starting Inside Linebacker: Akeem Jordan vs. Nico Johnson
The Chiefs have an interesting battle at inside linebacker between a signed free agent and a fourth-round draft pick. Akeem Jordan owns a big advantage because he’s been in the league for six seasons, all under Reid in Philadelphia. He has knowledge of Reid’s defense.
At the same time, Nico Johnson was a key linebacker and played for Alabama when it won three national titles. Johnson, who was drafted high in the fourth round, has a lot of potential and will get his shot to land a spot as a key player.
Even if Johnson doesn’t start by the time the regular season is under way, Johnson will probably rotate with Jordan and Derrick Johnson and get plenty of time on the field.
No. 2 Cornerback: Sean Smith vs. Dunta Robinson
With Brandon Flowers on the other side, the Chiefs signed two cornerbacks worthy of being the No. 2 cornerback. Sean Smith and Dunta Robinson both started 16 games last year and were big assets for their teams before joining the Chiefs.
At 6'3", Smith is one of the tallest cornerbacks in the league. He picked off two passes, forced three fumbles and deflected 12 passes to help the Dolphins last season.
Robinson made plays all over the field for the Atlanta Falcons, with one interception, one forced fumble, eight passes batted down and 1.5 sacks.
It is hard to predict which cornerback ends up being the starter alongside Flowers. But in an era where teams pass the ball excessively, all three cornerbacks will be valuable players—especially when facing the Denver Broncos twice, who are loaded with wide receivers.