After the first two preseason games, Chiefs fans might feel a slight bit of worry. Kansas City has lost both games and, at times, looked very sloppy on the field. For fans, it's easy to write this off as a bad preseason, remembering that these games essentially mean nothing.
For players, though, these games could be the difference between riding the bench and making a name for themselves.
Kansas City will take on the St. Louis Rams in their third game this preseason. This Governor’s Cup matchup will likely mean a lot more for the players than it will for fans.
That’s not to say, though, that the outcome is not important.
A win against the Rams would show Kansas City is headed in the right direction. For the Chiefs to pull out a win, there are a few starters that will need to prove themselves. The outcome of the next two games could effect their playing time and show whether Kansas City can hope to be contenders again in 2011.
Here are nine starters who need to prove themselves against the Rams and ride that performance into the regular season for their sake and for the sake of the team.
With people labeling his Pro Bowl performance in 2010 as a fluke, Matt Cassel has a chance this season to finally earn respect from all of Kansas City and the rest of the league.
He is not off to a terrific start in the preseason, though.
While he had limited time in the first two games, only throwing 14 passes, he still only has a completion percentage of 42.9 percent with 73 yards and a 59.5 quarterback rating.
If the Chiefs want to win their third preseason game over their in-state rival the St. Louis Rams, Cassel will need to do better. More importantly, Cassel will need to avoid cold streaks like this in 2011 if he hopes to return to the Pro Bowl and take the Chiefs back to the playoffs.
During the offseason, wide receiver Steve Breaston was one of the biggest free agent acquisitions for Kansas City. With a subpar receiving game in 2010, the addition of Breaston and rookie Jonathan Baldwin looked to boost the offense and give the Chiefs a much better chance of returning to the postseason.
So far, things have not gone according to plan.
Breaston has only caught one pass this preseason, going for five yards. With Baldwin injured and likely to miss at least the week one game against the Buffalo Bills, Breaston will become even more important.
If the Chiefs hope to win against the Rams and early in the season, games that they must win to make the playoffs, Breaston will need to do more to take pressure off of wide receiver Dwayne Bowe.
Throughout the preseason, the Kansas City quarterbacks have had their work cut out for them. They have been under a lot of pressure, being sacked 11 times in two games and pressured countless times more.
While a great deal of this pressure was brought on while second string linemen were in, the starting linemen have still been unable to stop the pass rush.
Kansas City will need to hold back this pressure if they hope to turn around a passing game that was towards the bottom of the league in yardage a year ago. While the preseason does not count in the standings, a strong showing against the Rams would be great for Chiefs fans to see and would be a good sign for the season to come.
Drafted third overall in 2009, Tyson Jackson has, thus far in his career, been a bust for Kansas City. Jackson averaged around 2.5 tackles a game last season, only recording one sack. Chiefs fans were left hoping 2011 would be the year that Jackson was able to turn this around.
So far in the preseason, he has not.
In two games, Jackson has had no sacks and only one tackle. While he has had limited playing time, Jackson has a long way to go before he proves he was worth the third overall pick. If he steps up against the Rams and is able to get the job done the rest of the preseason into the regular season, maybe Kansas City will finally be able to see the talent that they were expecting in 2009.
So far, Studebaker has had a good preseason. With very low playing time, Studebaker has recorded two tackles, one of which was a sack. His talent is not being questioned and Studebaker will be the starter when the regular season begins.
Studebaker, though, will have a lot of competition for playing time.
Rookie linebacker Justin Houston has shown an amazing ability to get into the backfield and to the quarterback, recording two sacks, forcing a fumble. His seven tackles places him third on the team in the preseason and he looks like he may have been a steal in the third round. This could possibly mean less playing time for Studebaker.
If the Chiefs want to win against St. Louis, they will have to put pressure on Sam Bradford and the Rams' quarterbacks. Studebaker could protect his playing time with a strong outing and help the Chiefs win in the process. It’s a win-win situation for sure.