Will Chiefs Have Any Surprise Performers Tonight Against Bucs?

SAINT JOSEPH, MO - JULY 31: Quarterback Ricky Stanzi #13 practices during Kansas City Chiefs Training Camp on July 31, 2011 in Saint Joseph, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Contained within last night's 47-12 drubbing by the New England Patriots over the Jacksonville Jaguars was the emergence of a surprise performer in Pats' third round draft choice Stevan Ridley. The running back turned in a stellar performance to the tune of 3 touchdowns -- 2 rushing, 1 receiving. It's an example of what happens when the fans are present, the cameras zoom in and the lights turn on -- a star is (possibly) born. It's exactly what Chiefs fans are hoping for tonight in the first preseason game against the Buccaneers.

The preseason is the ideal time for undrafted free agents or rookie selections to make their presence felt in a way that just cannot happen in practice. Game-time brings out something different in every player, and these games are made for the underdog to shine. Given that most Chiefs starters will only play a limited role both tonight and next week, these first two or even three preseason games are going to give some significant time in the spotlight to several guys.

Roster spots and playing time are on the line. That said, we'd love to hear your ideas in the comments on who stands the best chance to emerge tonight as a young player to watch. Keep reading for some of our bright ideas:

1. Ricky Stanzi - Certainly the obvious choice given how any team's back-up QB is an automatic player of note, win or lose, in preseason games. But Stanzi has been the darling of several NFL analysts under the headline "late round steal." Scott Pioli grabbed him in the fifth round, and tonight he gets a chance to showcase his wares with the second team offense, which might include Jon Baldwin and/or Dexter McCluster. It's been several years since the Chiefs drafted a developmental quarterback, so fans have high hopes that Stanzi can showcase his accurate arm.

2. Verran Tucker - Perhaps this is a dumb call with several other receivers in camp looking to make noise. Jon Baldwin is the glitzy first round choice. Jerheme Urban is getting face time with the first-team offense. Keary Colbert is the new signing. But Tucker can stretch the field and has been in the system for some time. Last year, he was called onto the team from the practice squad for the second half and caught 6 total passes for 114 yards and 1 touchdown. Something tells me Tucker could be something special, and tonight's the ideal opportunity to display it.

3. Gabe Miller - The outside linebacker was the fifth round choice of the Chiefs this year and he's certainly been quiet so far. Miller has some incredible strength and size, but as Bob Gretz described him, he's "a jack of all trades and master of none." With injuries and positional changes (from running back!), Miller has never settled, but now he is surrounded by a group who can mold that talent in one direction with the proper coaching. It's silly to place him on here at this point since he's likely going to take some time, but Miller's gift mix could make him an underdog for the long term for that OLB spot opposite Tamba Hali.
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