The Chiefs were unable to pick up a win over the Baltimore Ravens in Week 2 of the preseason. However, this preseason loss wasn’t even close to the embarrassing performance the Chiefs put up last week.
This week, the Chiefs starters stayed on the field longer and showed some progress together. Matt Cassel was able to pass the football as he went 6-for-14 throwing for 73 yards. Jamaal Charles also got to carry the ball four times and gained 12 yards.
The Chiefs played a few of their key players who did not play last weekend and gave them an opportunity to make some strides.
These preseason games are not necessarily about winning or losing, it’s about how well your players perform in preparation of the regular season. The Chiefs made some improvements and played like a real football team Friday night.
Here are five players who stood out the most in Friday’s loss to the Ravens. As always, let me know if you agree or disagree and if anyone else deserves to be mentioned.
It sure looks like Dexter McCluster is more comfortable in his role with Kansas City. McCluster carried the ball four times for 24 yards and caught three passes for 47 yards.
If you didn’t notice, I did remove "kick return" from his title here, as Quinten Lawrence has handled most of the return duties while Kansas City tries to work out the conundrum.
For now, the Chiefs are using McCluster as an offensive weapon. McCluster can be a key player on third down and help the Chiefs move the chains. Keep a close eye on McCluster and see how the Chiefs use him in the two remaining preseason contests.
The only question that remains is, what is going to be McCluster’s biggest responsibility? Will he be more of a rusher or receiver? Or will it be an equal mixture of both?
In the limited action he did receive against Baltimore, Dwayne Bowe caught three passes for 43 yards, including a nice 26-yard reception near the sidelines.
One of the top receivers in the league last year, Bowe is proving last season was no fluke—proving he can be relied upon despite minimal preseason action.
With Bowe’s consistent drops now a thing of the past, he can be relied on to carry this football team and can be looked upon as a key player in crucial moments of a game.
Verran Tucker might be the most interesting player on this list. Tucker became a part of the team in Week 7 last season after the Chiefs were getting little production from Chris Chambers. Tucker’s first career touchdown reception came against the Oakland Raiders in Week 9.
Tucker eventually got the call to start for the Chiefs in two games, but he was unable to produce due to his unfamiliarity with the offense; he finished 2010 with just six catches for 114 yards and one touchdown.
This year, Tucker has been active with the Chiefs throughout training camp and was a big asset in Friday’s game versus the Ravens.
Catching three passes for 68 yards, Tucker was Kansas City's top receiver Friday night. He did whatever he could to keep the Chiefs competitive, catching one pass for 12 yards and two for 28 yards.
If Tucker can carry this kind of level of play to one more preseason game, he will ensure himself a spot on the 53-man roster.
Jackie Battle led the Chiefs in receptions and carries last week, but also fumbled one of his carries with Tampa Bay coming away with the recovery. This week, Battle made up for the error.
On the first punt of the game, Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb fumbled and Battle pounced, helping the Chiefs extend their first drive of the game to come away with their first score of the preseason with a field goal.
Battle also contributed on the ground with eight carries for 29 yards.
Justin Houston helped the Chiefs as much as he could against the Ravens.
On the first punt of the game, Houston forced Webb's fumble to help Kansas City maintain possession. (The same fumble recovered by Battle.)
Houston, who many believe is the answer opposite of Tamba Hali, also came away with a pair of sacks.
If a player contributes well on special teams in the preseason, the chances of a roster spot becomes that much greater. Coaches will take notice in Houston’s versatility and give him a big role in the regular season.