The fourth preseason game is always kind of a dud. Generally the starters don’t play at all and it’s just used as a final audition for guys trying to make a NFL roster. For Kansas City, this was an important fourth preseason game.
Due to suspensions and injuries to key starters, there are still several positions still up for grab at Offensive Line, Inside Linebacker, Wide Receiver, the secondary and Kicker. Throughout the month of August this team had numerous position battles going on throughout camp, but those contests ended Thursday night at Lambeau Field.
Every conversation in football begins and ends with the quarterback position. Chase Daniel continued a rather lackluster preseason and seems to have given Tyler Bray and Aaron Murray every opportunity to prove that they should be the number two behind Alex Smith.
Against the Packers, Chase Daniel, was largely unable to move the football in the first quarter. Tyler Bray came in and played well in reliving Daniel. Still he opened his competition by throwing another interceptions. But also lead a touchdown drive, and if not for a dropped pass by TE Demetrius Harris, may have been able to lead another scoring drive in the waning seconds of the first half. Quarterback, Aaron Murray also led a touchdown drive and looked pretty solid for his tour of duty.
It seems a foregone conclusion that Daniel will be the Chiefs primary backup heading into week one. However, both young guns have shown they belong in this league and have far greater upside than Daniel does at this point in his career.
One of the biggest question marks the Chiefs have had since February has been, besides Dwayne Bowe, who else is going to be play wide receiver for Kansas City this season. From all accounts that answer appears to be Donnie Avery, A.J. Jenkins, Frankie Hammond Jr. and Albert Wilson. Junior Hemingway is a name you would expect to have on this list, but he’s been hurt since the beginning of training camp so his potential roster spot might be on the bubble. However, with the Bowe suspension he might get a week to get a second chance. Still the way Hammond and Wilson have played you can’t really justify leaving either of them off the roster but there’s only so much room.
A.J. Jenkins may have saved his job with the diving catch he made on a Tyler Bray long ball to set up the Chiefs’ first touchdown of the night, his speed is his greatest asset and he’s a player Andy Reid seems to have a lot of hope for. Reid loves Hemingway too, so it will be interesting to see the final results and who’s in and who’s out at receiver, one possibility is seeing Hemingway begin the year on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list.
To date, the secondary has been hotly contested to this point. In particular the battle for a starters role between Ron Parker and Sean Smith has been a seesaw battle. Add that with back-up safeties, Daniel Sorenson and Malcolm Bronson, hoping to stick on the roster after impressive pre-season play.
The secondary is a big concern but someone else has to step up to support the starters. Thursday night, 3rd round draft pick Phillip Gaines and former Oakland Raider Demarcus Van Dyke. Gaines, despite being a draft pick of this team and this regime, may have played his way off the roster in Green Bay. The rookie from Rice regressed as a player from the first pre-season game to the last. On Thursday night, he was flagged on three separate occasions for illegal contact and was repeatedly burned by Packers receivers for a pair of touchdowns.
On the other side of that coin, Van Dyke was solid and probably secured a roster spot. He broke up three passes, not allowing a single catch, and didn’t draw attention to himself with any penalties. Again Gaines had the inside track to that spot through camp and the early preseason but Van Dyke may have won that job with his performance on Thursday.
At safety as I mentioned both Sorenson and Bronson may end up making the final roster as backup safeties. If I had to choose one, especially if the Chiefs add a veteran at this position, Bronson has looked better than Sorenson overall. Bronson made a few nice tackles in supporting the run against Green Bay. in run support in the Green Bay game to help solidify his roster spot also.
Finally the Kicker Battle which has been a big point of contention all camp long. Ryan Succop’s job has been under attack from rookie Cairo Santos, and throughout camp it was Santos, not Succop who appeared to be in the driver’s seat to win that role. They were dead even in terms of field goals made and PATs made throughout the entire preseason. The thing that stood out last night was the kickoffs, Succop seemed to have a little more power on the kickoffs than Santos did.
Regardless, this may be a decision that comes down to salary, and if they truly are dead even, it may become a numbers game and Succop’s contract may be the deciding factor. Either way, the Chiefs will go in to 2014 with a strong legged kicker, who they can count on to make long and short range field goals.
In reality, preseason is completely meaningless in the grand scheme of things it’s easy to overreact to a 1-3 record, and 2 blowout losses. Every year at this time, it’s customary to point out that the ’07 Patriots went 0-4 in the preseason and the ’08 Lions went 4-0 in the preseason. Next up though, the Tennessee Titans and week one of the regular season. Whoever the final 53 end up being, they have one goal, and that’s start the season 1-0 next Sunday.
Photo (1) Cyrus Gray (2) Phillip Gaines by Jeff Hanisch USA Today Sports
WARPAINT ILLUSTRATED MESSAGE BOARDS:
Does 1-3 mean anything for the regular season?
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