The 5 Biggest Storylines Heading into Kansas City Chiefs Training Camp
At this point in the offseason, Kansas City Chiefs fans normally scroll down the roster, home in on "quarterback," press play on their iPod and comb the night sky as a single tear streams down with the "Airplanes" chorus soothing their ear drums. (Disclaimer: Writer holds no responsibility if the previous link makes your ears bleed.)
Okay, that might be over-exaggerating it a hair.
But there's good news: The Chiefs' quarterback woes are seemingly a thing of the past.
The bad news? Questions still riddle the storylines leading up to training camp.
Adversity has tapped out former first-rounders, a past star looks like a one-hit wonder, and Dwayne Bowe is still searching for helping hands that don't fumble passes like Albert Brennaman.
Tony Moeaki's Uncertain Future
Tony Moeaki's future is cloudier than a Seattle morning.
If viewed through a pass-catching prism, No. 81 is a distinguished tight end.
However, the adjoined picture basically nutshells his poor in-line blocking capabilities, and offseason knee surgery will only halt his progression in learning the craft.
At this point, there's no reason to believe that Moeaki is above Anthony Fasano or Travis Kelce on the unofficial depth chart. Fasano is a serviceable receiver and glues defenders to the line of scrimmage. Kelce may be a rookie, but he's also the most talented of the bunch.
To make matters worse for Moeaki, undrafted rookie Demetrius Harris is flourishing before the coaching staff's eyes.
So, could Moeaki get the hook? While it's not out of the realm of possibility, releasing him would only save $1.3 million in cap space, and he presents too much value in the passing game to dismiss him.
But if Harris' development hits a wall or injury strikes a starter throughout camp, the Chiefs will have no issue trading a potential third-stringer with an expiring contract.
Free Safety Square-off
An injury-prone Kendrick Lewis was limited to nine games in 2012. Husain Abdullah sacrificed the season for a religious pilgrimage, and Sanders Commings is an incoming rookie.
In other words, there's a 33 percent chance of predicting the Opening Day starter.
Throughout Lewis' first two seasons, he plucked six interceptions and forced three fumbles. Last year, he posted donuts in both categories.
Abdullah started 15 contests in 2010 and tallied three interceptions. However, the newcomer has only delivered one turnover throughout his remaining three seasons.
When juxtaposed, Commings' measurables dust those of his aforementioned cohorts. The drawback is that he's transitioning to a position in which he only dabbled in throughout college.
All things considered, Lewis should should be the favorite to crack Week 1's starting rotation. In 2011—the last season that both veterans participated—receivers snatched 69.6 percent of passes against Abdullah, while Lewis restricted targets to 59.1 percent.
Abdullah was also victimized for four touchdowns—only four safeties allowed more.
Statistics provided by Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
Strong-Side Linebacker Competition
Akeem Jordan has 34 starts under his belt, but every one of them afforded the luxury of four down linemen absorbing blocks.
Nico Johnson is a rookie, but he anchored the nucleus of college football's most vaunted (3-4) defense.
As evidenced by the picture, perennial Pro Bowler Derrick Johnson has taken time to teach Jordan the ropes, but the interior playmaker has also taken the recent draftee under his wing.
If the rookie starts alongside Johnson, it won't come as a shock to many. However, if the two-down run-stuffer doesn't shore up his coverage skills, Jordan could get the final nod.
The first-year prospect will have no shortage of opportunities, though. If he can hold his own with a Mach-footed Jamaal Charles leaking out of the backfield, he can lay any doubts to rest.
The wideout boasts great size and occasionally reels in catches too complex for Madden to animate. Despite these strengths, his performance has been lackluster. To an extent, putrid quarterback play offers a scapegoat, but lazy route-running also shoulders a fair amount of the blame.
Much like Baldwin, Dontari Poe has accounted for his share of moments, particularly against Peyton Manning.
But as a rookie, he often looked more like an underachieving Memphis prospect than a freakish combine standout. Now that quarterback Alex Smith is overseeing the offensive operation and Poe has the green light for aggression, the laundry list of excuses have been exhausted.
Third-String Quarterback Quandary
When the starters take the field, all eyes will be on No. 11.
Obviously, Alex Smith won't be exempt from his own line of questioning. But given his aptitude for memorizing offenses, there's little doubt that the pinpoint passer will have a firm grasp of Andy Reid's system by Week 1.
But when he takes a breather, the eye of the media storm will shift to Ricky Stanzi and Tyler Bray.
If Bruce Springsteen dug a spork into an apple pie and wiped the crumbs with a red, white and blue napkin, he would still be half the American that Stanzi is. The related videos adjacent to Stanzi's YouTube highlights are Walker, Texas Ranger fights and Woodstock documentaries.
However, none of that scores points with the coach.
Stanzi has yet to take a regular-season snap in his NFL career. In a nutshell, he's a mobile quarterback who can elude pressure and sling a fairly accurate pass.
The rookie's arm strength makes Stanzi look like he's lobbing changeups. While a lackadaisical approach and fluctuating accuracy have haunted his reputation (as well as off-field headlines), Bray still managed to stockpile 3,612 yards and 34 touchdowns (12 interceptions) in his junior campaign. Tennessee's passing attack ranked second in the offensive slaughterhouse known as the SEC.
Regardless, in the recent past, Kansas City's quarterbacks have looked more confused than a stumbling birthday girl ambushed by the 4 a.m. sprinklers.
In 2013, fans are anticipating fourth-quarter preseason passing battles.
If that's not a tell-tale sign that Reid's regime is doing its job, what is?
Statistics provided by Sports-Reference.com.
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