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Chiefs mailbag: Adrian Peterson vs. Jamaal Charles, getting Chris Conley on the field

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The summer is starting to wind down. Chiefs have reported to training camp. We're all starting to get that light buzz of "why not us?" that every fanbase (other than the Browns and Jaguars fanbases) gets this time of year.

Training camp is nearly here. Which means  there will be some actual (kinda) news to report. Which means we're nearing the end of multiple mailbags a week. I'll continue churning them out as the season gets into full swing, with the ultimate plan being a weekly Saturday mailbag throughout the season. it's an ambitious plan, I know. We'll see how it goes.

In the meantime, let's mailbag and reflect on what a magical summer of mailbags it's been. We couldn't have used this gimmick as a distraction from the monotony of the offseason without your numerous questions. Mailbag responders, you da real MVP.

First one is easy; Z-man at Oklahoma Joe's (or Joe's Kansas City BBQ, or whatever it's called right now). To be fair, I've only tasted a sampling of various tailgates beyond that, because I've never WANTED to go anywhere else for my food on the rare occasion I make it to KC. I'm a guy who knows what he likes. Maybe this next trip I'll try something new ... but I doubt it.

Chris Conley is a much more difficult question. He injured himself on the first day of training camp and hasn't been back since. Assuming this isn't a season-ending situation, he will get on the field ... at some point.

Word out of OTAs was that he really impressed people. Frankly, based on what I saw of his college film, I don't find that surprising. Conley has serious speed and seemed to develop fairly rapidly during his time in college (though a massive QB downgrade messed with his final season's statistics). He does a really nice job catching with his hands, has good size, and in general has all the stuff you look for in a wide receiver.

I don't trust training camp when it comes to wide receivers. I've been hurt before. Can anyone forget Jon Baldwin?

That said, OTAs aren't training camp. Specifically, OTAs don't allow contact and are in shorts. When the pads come on and when corners are allowed to start pressing aggressively during scrimmages, we'll see whether Conley continues to wow.

And even beyond that, I don't trust training camp when it comes to wide receivers. I've been hurt before. Can anyone forget how Jon Baldwin was going to make Bowe expendable during his incredible training camp? He followed that up with a whole lot of nothing. It was ... gross.

So really, until I see Conley playing well against real NFL competition I'm going to reserve judgment. He's got all the tools to get on the field. But whether he'll be able to master Reid's legendary playbook and improve his ability against press coverage (he rarely saw it in college) is another story entirely.

One thing to remember is that whether Conley sees the field doesn't solely depend on Conley. If Albert Wilson builds on what he was doing to close out last season, he's going to be on the field with Jeremy Maclin the majority of the time. And then there's the whole "DAT might be used more as a WR in 2015" speculation we've all been drooling over.

I think Conley will be a decent receiver and a surprise to people who gets onto the field and helps. But based on what we've seen in the past I'm guessing (and it really is a pure guess at this point) that he doesn't do so until the second half of the season.

Let me preface my answer by saying that Jamaal Charles is one of the most special athletes I've ever watched in any sport. He's incredible. AND I think it's beyond doubt that he's a more complete back than Adrian Peterson is. He's better in pass pro and a better receiver, and I'm not sure either is all that close.

That said ... All Day is in the argument as one of the best 3-4 running backs to ever live. He's just on another level from everyone else when it comes to a size / speed / strength combination. His 2012 season was some of the greatest running I've ever seen. He's an absolute monster and has been so for a little longer than Charles has.

At this point Peterson has the lead. However, he's very close to losing it if he doesn't come back in a big way in 2015. Longevity matters when it comes to gauging players, and Peterson has simply been doing what he does longer than Charles.

Also, I really am afraid what Peterson might do to the NFL this year. Last time he felt like he had something to prove he produced that legendary 2012 season. Now he's got something to prove and is angry (not saying he's got legit reason to be angry. Just saying he is). That's a scary, scary combination. He also has decent quarterback play and a good offensive coordinator. I wouldn't rule out another 2,000 yard season.

Now, if you're asking me which player I'd take to win ONE game with the caveat that both would be at their absolute peak? I ... I ... Well ... I...

Crap, I have no idea. both are capable of carrying a team all on their own. We've just seen a little more of it from Peterson. I guess. Well, no ... Charles.

I guess it would ultimately depend on the surrounding team and what I wanted from my running back. I like a guy who can do it all. But I've never seen a running back drag a mediocre team behind him the way Peterson did in 2012. Or was that what we were watching Charles do in 2013?

When in doubt, assume your own bias. I pick Peterson in part because I WANT to pick Charles. I hate myself, and I hate you for making me think about this.

This is much more fun to think about. The obvious answer is, as always, Alex Smith. Because if Smith plays "unexpectedly well" it would mean he's playing quarterback at a very high level. That is always the best news your team can get. So he's out of contention (as well as the rest of the QB's). Sorry, Alex, you're always excluded from such things.

I thought and thought and thought about this. The key is to find a player who doesn't already play at a decently high level, so as to maximize the upgrade. Either that or take a boom / bust young guy and make him boom.

I think the absolute most beneficial player to unexpectedly go off in 2015 would have to be Eric Kush.

Yes, I know, center is a boring position to pick. But hear me out! Here's why I DIDN'T pick a couple of the obvious guys...

Marcus Peters

It would be AMAZING if Peters hit the ground running and played strong out of the gate. Combine him with Philip Gaines and Sean Smith and you could really suffocate opponents' wide receivers.

That said ... with the pass rush the Chiefs are currently sporting, the leap forward might not be THAT dramatic with a corner playing very well. It could vault the defense to "elite" status, but I think there's already a decent shot of that happening.

Josh Mauga

Basically the same reasoning as above. The defense is already very, very good. And while Mauga could help raise the ceiling even higher, it's not as great a net gain. Also, throw in the fact that Mauga is a part time player with the return of DJ and it's not a big enough jump for me.

Demetrius Harris

I thought long and hard about this one, and am really still on the fence. Harris blossoming into another gigantic, fast target for Alex Smith (and he ABSOLUTELY has the raw athleticism to be just that) would create some terrifying choices for defenses to make. I would love to see a constant double TE set with Maclin and Wilson threatening outside. Talk about matchup issues.

But at the end of the day, last year's experience of watching glaring weaknesses on the offensive line completely torpedo the offense multiple plays a game changed my view on football. One offensive lineman can't make your OL elite. BUT ... one glaring weakness can destroy it.

The Chiefs upgraded LG massively with the acquisition of Ben Grubbs. The other G position should be better with Jeff Allen returning (he's a better player than Fulton was last year, so either he plays or Fulton / Fanaika play above average and seize the spot. Either way it's an upgrade). Fisher is controversial, but I'm confident he can do all right.

One offensive lineman can't make your OL elite. BUT ... one glaring weakness can destroy it.

The two positions that leaves me concerned about are RT and C. And I happen to believe that Donald Stephenson is going to be motivated enough to do fairly well in 2015. He's in a contract year, and is in a situation where what he does is going to be the difference between a vet minimum offer somewhere or a shot at a few million bucks a year. I don't know Stephenson, but I don't think talent is the issue. I expect him to win the job and be just fine.

Which leaves center. Let's say Kush explodes and far surpasses expectations. That would mean the gain of Grubbs would not longer be "offset" by the loss of Hudson and the OL would just be flat-out BETTER by a wide margin than it was in 2015.

If that happens, the Chiefs (in theory) have the weapons to field a solid offense. And a solid offense with this defense is going to be enough to win a lot of games.

See you next mailbag. Be sure to keep firing questions to @RealMNchiefsfan, and give me a follow if you're looking for a place to see Chiefs plays gif'd or vine'd pretty frequently (I recently learned how to to do both and am having a ball).

It's almost here, people. Smell that? Smells like football.

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