DT 1. Dontari Poe - Did anyone else see the first round pick do exactly what the Chiefs want him to do in the regular season? Occupy space, collapse the pocket and take on double-teams like a man possessed. Should I say more?
As much grief as Quarterback Matt Cassel has taken this offseason, the same can be said about the Chiefs top draft pick, Dontari Poe. Listen he's not going to be an All Pro anytime soon. But he doesn't have to be for this defense to be good. All he has to do is occupy space.
2. LB Cameron Sheffield - For a guy that's struggled to get playing time the last two years, the third year pro had a strong game on Friday night against the Cardinals. His sack in the second quarter was reminiscent of his days at Troy University when he was a dominating pass rushing defensive end.
He was also solid against the run and nearly had another sack on the Cardinals third quarter touchdown drive. The fact that Justin Houston and Tamba Hali are the Chiefs only real sack threats, it's nice to see Sheffield step up and make some plays.
3. C Rodney Hudson - One of the bigger question marks heading into training camp was the maturation and readiness of their second year center to grab a hold of a starting job.
After the way he handled the interior pass rush of the Cardinals, protected his quarterback and blew open some holes for the running backs, I'd say he gets a solid ‘A' for his performance on Friday night.
He still has a long way to go but there's a reason that some touted Hudson when the Chiefs drafted him a year ago - as the greatest offensive lineman to come out of the state of Florida.
4. LB Cory Greenwood - Another depth issue for this football team is inside linebacker. As many of you know, I'm not a fan of Jevon Belcher. The fact Brandon Siler is finally healthy but still has a gap to make up, the Chiefs could use the pass coverage skills of a player like Cory Greenwood.
A year ago in training camp I thought he and Derrick Johnson were the teams best linebackers at covering backs and tight ends. And I'd say that's still the case right now. But what I like about Greenwood is that he's solid against the run and isn't afraid to get after the opposing quarterback.
5. WR Devon Wiley - Sure he didn't do much in the passing game but his punt return late in the third quarter was a thing of beauty. It set up a field goal that gave the Chiefs a two-possession lead at 20-10.
Wiley might be the biggest wild card on this team. Even though Dexter McCluster had a solid outing, Wiley might be a better long term fit than the incumbent.
But that might be too much foreshadowing on my part. Still I wouldn't mind seeing him be a bigger focal point on the return units. Something tells me Wiley has that Dante Hall thing in him.
Dave Barr – Warpaint Illustrated Columnist
1. RB Peyton Hillis - After watching the former Cleveland Browns running back on Friday night, he looks motivated to repeat the success he enjoyed in 2010. He ran with a purpose and looked like a player that's intent on playing a few more years in the NFL.
Running Back Peyton Hillis was the Chiefs offensive player of the game.
2. OC Brian Daboll - It's official I have a man crush on Chiefs offensive coordinator, Brain Daboll. When I saw him at training camp, I thought it was just a passing fancy.
With so many formation variations available to Daboll by moving players such as Kevin Boss, Tony Moeaki, Dexter McCluster (yes at least for tonight he's found a place in the Chiefs offense!), Peyton Hillis and Jamaal Charles kept Arizona defenders off balance in the first quarter. And that created mismatches that the Chiefs can exploit all season long.
3. Aggressive Defense - On Friday night in a game that was supposed to be very vanilla, Head Coach Romeo Crennel had his defensive unit flying all over the field. He let his young athletic linebackers do their thing. Derrick Johnson and Justin Houston met multiple times at the body of Arizona quarterback John Skelton. And because of the attacking style the Chiefs held the Cardinals to a pair of first downs – one of those was by penalty. But the biggest item of note on the evening was the fact - as a team - they had seven sacks.
4. QB Matt Cassel - The Chiefs quarterback looked very comfortable Friday night. His demeanor in the pocket, the fact he settled his feet before he threw his passes and his mobility rolling out to clear a passing lane, was very impressive. Add those intangibles with his ability to throw effectively on the run and lead the Chiefs on a pair of 72-yard scoring drives, his coaching staff has to be thrilled with his performance.
And that play set the tone for the offense, that finished the game a perfect 5 for 5 in the Red Zone – three touchdowns and two field goals.
5. Fire? Did you say Fire? - Not even fire alarms going off inside Arrowhead – false alarms by the way – distracted Chiefs fans from the game. Nobody left and the exits were safe as for the first time in a long time the Kansas City faithful was enjoying a preseason game.
It's official 2012 is underway.
WARPAINT ILLUSTRATED MESSAGE BOARDS:
Which Chiefs players stood out for you on Friday night?
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