Cardinals vs. Chiefs

There generally aren't many things you can learn from the first NFL exhibition game of the year. But in Kansas City, there are three questions I want answered Friday night when the Chiefs host the Arizona Cardinals at Arrowhead Stadium.

1. DT Dontari Poe - Let's first chat about what we already know about the Chiefs top draft pick. For the time being, he's not a starter. And at this point, he's not likely going to line up in the middle of the defense unless it's an obvious passing situation. And lastly, he's going to some reps tonight.

When the Chiefs drafted Dontari Poe in April they know he was a work in progress. They knew he'd take time to develop – maybe even the entire 2012 season. So why are the fans already gleaming him a bust?

I'm not really sure I get that. The guy hasn't played a single snap in the NFL. To their credit, the Chiefs are rightfully simplifying things for Poe – so he can grow into his role as a starter.

Head Coach Romeo Crennel is doing the right thing by taking baby steps with his first round draft pick. It's critical that the Chiefs, not only find a starting nose tackle that can eventually play all three downs, but to also build depth at that position.

With Poe, Anthony Toribio (tonight's starter) and Jerrell Powe on the roster, each brings a certain talent and girth to the position. If the Chiefs could mold all three into one player, they'd have a monster of a defensive tackle. But they don't. Still Poe is the future and tonight I just want to see him make a couple of plays where he occupies some space – so his teammates can get the glory.

After all, that's all he needs to do this year. Anything else is just a bonus.

2. QB Matt Cassel - Forget the debate over the back-up role between Ricky Stanzi and Brady Quinn. Let's focus on the Chiefs starting quarterback in 2012. Matt Cassel is under a microscope, one that is totally unfair but it's sadly warranted. Based on his season a year ago, fans aren't buying into the fact that Cassel is an elite quarterback.

Well you all know how I feel about that debate and he's got my vote as a player I expect will lead the Chiefs to the playoffs. But others don't share my sentiment.

So tonight represents a chance for Cassel to shut up some of his critics. All I want to see tonight from the Chiefs starter this evening is a couple of third down conversions - and if he takes the team to Red Zone - he finds one of his offensive playmakers to punch a touchdown ticket.

I doubt he's going to play much outside of a series or two against the Cardinals, but when he's on the field – let's hope he has some success. If for nothing more, so he can relax and be the quarterback he was in 2010.

3. DE Allen Bailey - If the Chiefs are going to get a pass rush from any of their defensive ends this season, it's going to come from Allen Bailey. A year ago he came to life late in the season and with the jury still out on former first round pick, Tyson Jackson, the second year player from Miami has a golden opportunity to make his mark on KC's defense.

To be fair, Jackson has had a strong camp. He's growing into a solid run-stuffing defensive end but the Chiefs already have that in Glenn Dorsey. And we already know that Dorsey isn't someone who can sack the quarterback. That was supposed to be the job of Jackson.

But with Bailey in the picture, it would appear that if those sacks are going to come at some point this year – he's going to have to deliver them.

The Chiefs defense can't rely on linebackers, Justin Houston and Tamba Hali, to do all the damage in that department. That means Jackson or Bailey has to become more efficient at sacking opposing quarterbacks.

And at this point, my money is on Mr. Bailey.


WARPAINT ILLUSTRATED MESSAGE BOARDS:
Which player do you expect will step up against the Cardinals Friday night?


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