Predicting the Winner of Kansas City Chiefs' Biggest Training Camp Battles
Quarterbacks and rookies have arrived for Chiefs training camp in St. Joseph, Missouri. As we inch closer to the first preseason games, the intensity begins to pick up in practices.
One of the hottest topics in training camp includes position battles and who will come out on top as the starter going into Week 1 of the regular season. Coaches tend to make their final decision on training camp battles anytime between Week 3 of the preseason and a couple days before the regular-season opener. We’ll give our take in this slideshow as to who we think will come out on top in Kansas City’s training camp battles.
Candidates: Chase Daniel, Tyler Bray and Aaron Murray (rookie)
Chase Daniel, Tyler Bray and Aaron Murray all had successful college football careers. But that did not translate well into the draft in the eyes of NFL scouts as Daniel and Bray went undrafted, while Murray was taken in the fifth round.
Nonetheless, all three quarterbacks have a good understanding of the game and can apply their talent level on the field.
A lot of Chiefs fans will pull for Daniel because he went to the University of Missouri, but don’t be surprised if Murray makes a serious push during training camp. With all of Murray’s accomplishments at the University of Georgia and in the SEC, his experience could give him a leg up.
At some point, head coach Andy Reid should consider allowing either all or two of the quarterbacks to lead the second-string offense in a preseason game.
Prediction: Murray will win; Daniel will remain on the roster.
Backup Running Back
Candidates: Knile Davis, Cyrus Gray and De'Anthony Thomas (rookie)
It is clear that Jamaal Charles has his spot locked up more tightly than any player on the team. Reid and offensive coordinator Doug Pederson want to find the right running backs behind Charles.
Chiefs fans had mixed feelings on Knile Davis last year. He showed his breakaway speed at times on offense and on special teams, but fans held their breath every time he had possession of the ball, fearing he would fumble. He fumbled once in the preseason and concluded the regular season with three fumbles out of 91 total touches, including two against the Colts in Week 16.
Cyrus Gray has had five touches in a game on two different occasions, but he’s never been able to make a strong impression on the field.
Although De’Anthony Thomas has yet to play, fans and the media have tooted his horn since he came to Kansas City. Fans felt the exact same way for Dexter McCluster in 2010 when he had yet to play a game in the NFL.
Under Reid, fans should feel a little bit more comfortable with Davis and his ability to take care of the football. Given the offense that the Chiefs operate under, you can expect the backups to come in and make a positive impact on the offense, in addition to Charles’ success.
Prediction: Davis will remain the No. 2 running back with Thomas behind him. Gray’s odds of making the 53-man roster could come down to how many offensive linemen Reid wants and whether there would still be room for Gray.
No. 2 Wide Receiver
Candidates: Donnie Avery, A.J. Jenkins, Junior Hemingway and Weston Dressler
It is no secret that Dwayne Bowe was nonexistent for most of last year. Even so, he will go into the season as the top receiver. But who plays behind him is a mystery. The Chiefs tried their luck with Amani Toomer, Devard Darling, Mark Bradley, Chris Chambers, Jon Baldwin and Steve Breaston. Since 2008, all six of those players were hoped to serve as a viable No. 2 receiver.
Whether it was through free agency or the draft, none of those players panned out well and are no longer on the team.
Unfortunately, the situation right now does not appear to be very different.
Donnie Avery was the team’s most successful receiver behind Bowe, but even he incurred the inconsistent bug.
Fans have forgotten that Junior Hemingway was a seventh-round pick as he showed flashes in 2013. The Chiefs have tried to address their woes by trading Baldwin for A.J. Jenkins and signing Weston Dressler from Canada, but are they long-term solutions?
When a team has several candidates for the No. 2 wide receiver position, it usually means it has a thin group of receivers. Avery could be the favorable candidate, but the spot is wide open. Don’t be surprised if Reid changes his No. 2 receiver a couple of times throughout the season.
Prediction: Avery will remain the No. 2 receiver with a lot of unknowns behind him.
Cornerback Opposite Sean Smith
Candidates: Chris Owens, Phillip Gaines (rookie) and Marcus Cooper
The Chiefs released Brandon Flowers to open up cap room, but that also hurt them when it comes to their situation with cornerbacks.
When Chris Owens, who will play for his fourth team since 2012, was signed in May, he was strictly a player expected to provide depth behind Flowers and Sean Smith. Now, he faces a completely different role going into training camp.
The Chiefs have some young cornerbacks in rookie Phillip Gaines and second-year player Marcus Cooper, who shined only during Kansas City’s undefeated run.
Owens started six games with the Atlanta Falcons as a rookie in 2009, the most starts he's ever had in one season in his career. Similar to the receiver position, this position is wide open and could go to anyone.
Prediction: Owens will win due to his experience, but some changes throughout the season are possible.