After months of waiting, the 2011 season is about to get underway with players reporting to training camp in the near future. These players will be hoping to grab an elusive NFL contract, using their skills to help a team build on its 2010 success.
While training camp is a great way for a player to climb his way up the depth chart and earn one of these spots, it is even easier to fall straight down it.
Kansas City has several players hoping they have a job when the season starts. A lot of these players will know very quickly, but some will not know until closer to the start of the season, being stuck in that awkward limbo between job security and unemployment.
These are six of those players.
For the first time in his short career, Anthony Toribio was actually given a small shot in 2010. Toribio only made his way onto the field one time in two seasons with the Green Bay Packers before being cut and picked up by Kansas City.
The Chiefs, short on nose tackles, played Toribio in five games last season. In those five games, Toribio did not have much of an impact, notching only three tackles.
With the Chiefs expected to look towards free agency for a nose tackle as well as drafting Jerrell Powe in the sixth round of the draft, Kansas City definitely appears to be edging away from Toribio. His playing chances are even slimmer if veteran Ron Edwards is re-signed. Toribio will have to prove a lot in training camp to stay on this roster.
The defensive backfield for the Kansas City Chiefs is young and very promising. With players like Brandon Flowers, Eric Berry and Brandon Carr, the Chiefs look to have a secondary that could shut down a lot of passing games. The addition of Jalil Brown in the draft makes this group even stronger.
Unfortunately for Jackie Bates, though, that grouping of talent means one thing: he could be out of a job.
In 2010, Bates only managed to crack the lineup in two games, starting against Seattle in week 12. In those two games, Bates only recorded one tackle and one pass deflection.
Bates did fairly well in the preseason games in 2010. If he can repeat his performance, he could keep a his job on this team.
No area of the Chiefs team was as scrutinized during the 2010 season as the wide receiver position. Dwayne Bowe was left to carry the load for all of the wide outs, often leaving quarterback Matt Cassel without an option to throw to. The Chiefs have looked to improve here, drafting Jonathan Baldwin to fill a major void. They are also expected to hit this position hard during free agency.
That leaves Quinten Lawrence potentially unemployed.
Drafted in 2009, Lawrence has not exactly been a star in Kansas City. Lawrence played in six games his rookie season before spending a stint on the Chiefs' practice squad in 2010. By the end of the season, Lawrence had been resigned to the 53-man roster. His impact on the team has been very low.
At this point, the Chiefs could cut Lawrence and not feel a major impact. If his special-teams skills are enough to keep him on the team through training camp, Lawrence could prove himself in the preseason games and move up the depth chart. While he will not be taking Bowe’s starting position anytime soon, he could at least get a few plays in.
Much for the same reasons that cornerback Jackie Bates is in danger, Ricky Price could find himself looking for another team.
Price played in seven games last season and registered nine tackles, not a terrible number for the amount he played. Unfortunately for Price, Jalil Brown has played safety as well as cornerback.
Price will be competing for a spot against Brown and with a defensive backfield this crowded, will be a player who has to worry every time a new round of roster cuts is made.
After going undrafted in 2010, the Chiefs signed rookie running back Tervaris Johnson before putting him on injured reserve in August. Johnson watched as the Kansas City running game tore the rest of the league up. It is no doubt Johnson wished he could be a part of that.
If he hopes to get some plays, Johnson will have his work cut out for him in 2011.
Kansas City ran with a strong two-tiered running attack in 2010, switching back and forth between Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones. While little is likely to change there, there have been a lot of indications that the Chiefs plan on moving Dexter McCluster to the backfield, using him primarily as a third-down back.
The backfield will be very crowded and with the drafting of Shane Bannon as a fullback, there may be no room in it for Johnson no matter how he performs.
In the 2011 draft, the Kansas City Chiefs grabbed two outside linebackers in Justin Houston and Gabe Miller.
These two could potentially take Andy Studebaker’s job.
Studebaker played in every game in 2010 for the Chiefs becoming a steady presence off of the bench. While he could have a shot at winning a starting spot in 2010, he could also end up riding the bench behind these two rookies or worse, end up job hunting.
His performance in training camp and the preseason is vital for his future in Kansas City. While he has a lot of people rooting for him, there are definitely a couple of others on the team who would be happy to step up if he does not.