With training camp in full swing, and the first pre-season games for many teams right around the corner, there are many players who are starting to emerge around the NFL. In Chiefs camp, there are some familiar names that are starting to play well, and some new names that are quickly becoming known on this team. I took a look at five Chiefs who have been playing at a high level at training camp for this piece.
Bowe, the up and down fourth-year receiver who has been more frustrating than exciting since his arrival in Kansas City, might be on the way to becoming the wide-out that the Chiefs thought they had when they took him in the first round of the 2007 NFL draft. Bowe, much like his nickname, has been putting on a show of sorts at this year's camp, mainly by catching anything and everything within his reach. He has repeatedly burned the Chiefs corner-backs at will, and appears to be more focused than he ever has been before. During the off-season, Bowe attended a camp with former NFL great Cris Carter, and current NFL great Larry Fitzgerald. Everyone around Dwayne has said that since his attendance at that camp, he has been almost like a changed man, and seems to be on his way to not only getting rid of his old D-Bowe image, but also could be on the way to becoming an elite receiver in this league.
He has been nicknamed little jitterbug, Dex, and recently Run DMC. Clearly if you heard the man speak, he just wants to be known as Dexter McCluster. He was one of the most exciting players that was selected from the 2010 draft, and he has definitely showed why so far at training camp. His quickness has been on full display all camp, and his router running and catching ability might be even better. Dex has been everything that the Chiefs have hoped he would be, since they drafted him in the second round back in April. In practices, he has been snagging passes, taking screens, running the wildcat, and even taking punt and kick returns. He has been very impressive in about every area that he has played in. Along with fellow receivers Dwayne Bowe and Chris Chambers, McCluster has also made a mockery of Chiefs corner-backs in camp, burning them one by one in man coverage time and time again.
When the Chiefs drafted Kendrick Lewis in the fifth round of this year's NFL draft, they new that they were getting a great person and a very hard-working football player. Little did they know, but Lewis is quickly emerging during training camp, and could possibly be the other starter at safety opposite Eric Berry, come the opening week of the regular season. Lewis has been no stranger to making plays at camp, as he has been batting and deflecting passes away from KC receivers almost like it is routine. He continues to get better with each practice, and look for this guy to make in impact on this team as we head into that pre-season.
For many Chiefs fans, it seems like the team has been waiting on former first-round pick Derrick Johnson to live up to his draft status for a very long time now. This is a fair assumption, since DJ is now coming into his 6th season with the Chiefs and is ready to start silencing his doubters for good.It appears that Johnson has already started doing that at this year's camp, as he has been flying all over the place, making plays at his middle linebacker position.
He looks like he is in the best shape in his career, and looks stronger and faster than many of the other KC linebackers. Maybe Derrick is using Todd Haley's benching act from last year for motivation, maybe he is still kicking himself for not stepping up his game since his arrival in the NFL in 2005. Whatever the reason, DJ looks like a completely different linebacker at camp this far, and many hope that the talented Texas product can continue this excellent play all the way through camp and into the season.
The third-year defensive end has been very dominant so far at camp up in St. Joseph. Gilberry is coming off of a season where he lead the Chiefs' defensive lineman in sacks with 4.5, and all of this production came from off the bench. He is undoubtedly the best pass rusher that KC possesses on their defensive front and by the way his camp is going so far, this does not look like it will change any time soon.
He has been a force all camp, as the Chiefs offensive line has had a very difficult time containing him almost every time he lines up on the field. If the quarterbacks were allowed to be tackled, Gilberry would have exceeded double digits in sacks by now, at this rate. If he continues this kind of production into the regular season, expect a monster year from #92.