On Thursday night, the Kansas City Chiefs will strap on the pads and square off against the Cincinnati Bengals at Arrowhead Stadium.
Per head coach Andy Reid, Alex Smith will play a quarter, leading me to believe that the rest of the starters will follow suit and get a solid 15 minutes. Nobody is expecting to see the Chiefs in midseason form, but it would be a welcome change to witness a victory.
However, there are more important topics than the record in the preseason. Let's hit five things to focus on come Thursday. I want to see. ...
1. Chiefs facing a grown man's d-line
The Bengals have an excellent defensive front led by tackles Geno Atkins and Domata Peko. Atkins will not play but Peka will seriously challenge both Jeff Allen and Zach Fulton, two of the players who come into the preseason with plenty to prove. Eric Fisher is also worth keeping a close eye on as he is still recovering from offseason shoulder surgery. If Kansas City wants to be a playoff team, Fisher has to be a solid left tackle.
2. The corner opposite of Marcus Cooper
Cooper is entrenched as the top corner on this team, while Ron Parker has been running with the starters throughout camp in place of Sean Smith. With the games beginning, will Parker continue to see the majority of the snaps in the first quarter? If he does, can he play up to standards or does he gets torched? If Parker has truly developed into a player, it's great news.
3. Dee Ford in uniform
Every reporter watching the Chiefs at camp has walked away raving about Ford and his potential. This will be the first time we see the kid out of Auburn University in a live situation. Ford will likely run with the second team, putting him against reserve offensive tackles. If Ford can dominate, it bodes well that he might be a significant contributor in 2014.
4. DAT dude De'Anthony Thomas
De'Anthony Thomas has been getting rave reviews for his talent while lining up all over the field. I'll be curious to see where he takes the majority of his snaps, whether it be running back, receiver or returner. Thomas is a wild card for this team, a jitterbug who can make plays in space. With a lack of receivers and the Chiefs liking to pass to their backs, Thomas could be a nice piece to keep the chains moving.
5. No turnovers!
I want to see the Chiefs win the turnover battle. Giving or taking the ball becomes a habit, and last year Kansas City rode the a great +19 turnover ratio to an 11-5 record. With Smith running the show offensively, it is tough to imagine the Chiefs becoming a turnover machine, but that is only half the story. I want the defense taking the ball away at least twice on Thursday.
David Eulitt/Kansas City Star/MCT via Getty Images
I want to see...
*Joel contributed to this list.
6. Alex Smith giving us one deep ball.
7. Jamaal Charles touching the ball twice and walking off the field unscathed.
8. Tyler Bray putting some touch on the ball with a short pass.
9.Junior Hemingway catching a pass over the middle.
10. De'Anthony Thomas hitting the edge on a stretch play.
11. The return game. Remember the Chiefs dominated special teams last preseason.
12. Travis Kelce catching a 15-plus yard pass over the middle of the field and getting up from the tackle.
13. Demetrius Harris making an acrobatic catch.
14. Aaron Murray not screwing up too bad. It's his first NFL game. He's gonna screw up something.
15. Dwayne Bowe tip toeing along the sideline to make a catch.
16. Which o-lineman gives up a sack?
17. The swing tackle competition.
18. Joe Mays thumpin' the ballcarrier.
19. DJ bein' DJ.
20. Ron Parker in the spotlight.
21. Dee Ford's first step. Everyone's talking about it. I can confirm it's fast.
22. The Big Three on the field at the same time.
23. Dontari Poe putting a move on the lineman and bursting into the backfield.
24. Uh, who is going to make up half the secondary? Still don't know that.
25. How the Chiefs use Sean Smith.
26. If free agent Steve Gregory is a serious contender to make the team.
How much strength Allen Bailey has added. Same with Mike Catapano, if he plays.
27. Daniel Sorensen, the undrafted safety.
28. Albert Wilson, the undrafted receiver.
29. The kicker battle.
30. Arrowhead Stadium.