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Chiefs preseason vs. 49ers: 7 things we’re watching for

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The Kansas City Chiefs open their preseason schedule against the San Francisco 49ers on Friday night with plenty of questions and excitement. Below are a few of the things we’ll be watching for. In the comments section, let us know what you’re hoping to see.

1) The first team: are they on the same page? It sounds like the starters may only play the first quarter. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them come out sooner than that if they appear to be firing on all cylinders. What we hope to see is an offense that can sustain a scoring drive early, and a defense that can get a couple of three-and-outs.

2) Escape without significant injury. I get the feeling that NFL teams, like many of us fans, watch preseason games while holding their collective breath. The worst thing that can happen this week is to see the cart coming out to pick up any Chiefs contributors.

3) Run and stop the run. The Chiefs’ ability in the run game, on both sides of the ball, has received plenty of attention this offseason. Friday is the first test to see if they have improved. On offense, watch to see if the o-line has improved in their ability to open holes for Spencer Ware and the other backs. On defense, the return of Derrick Johnson and the additions of Roy Miller and Bennie Logan (if healthy) should bring competency to the run defense.

4) Speaking of RBs... Perhaps the most intriguing of roster battles is among the ballcarriers after Ware. Charcandrick West is said to have lost weight to gain speed but had been nursing an ankle injury for a few days in camp. In the meantime, the Chiefs added Kareem Hunt, who looks like he’ll be a factor. The only question is when? Many believe he’ll start of as a backup, but take over the starting job at some point. He’ll have his first opportunity to prove he is ready against the 49ers. CJ Spiller is the wildcard of the group. He’s reportedly had a great camp, and is running like his old self. Has he done enough to make the roster? He’ll have to prove himself in the preseason games in order to force the Chiefs to keep him over West (or keep four backs).

5) The pass catchers: There are a few receivers and tight ends that are competing for jobs this preseason, and it could be the most entertaining battle to watch.

  • WR Seantavius Jones: One of the real surprises of camp, ‘Stretch’ has a big opportunity to prove himself against NFL competition and make the team.
  • TE Gavin Escobar: A relatively quiet addition to the team has been showing off his terrific hands according to reports from St Joe. If he can make some noise in the games, he can not only secure a roster spot, but perhaps a role in the offense.
  • WR Jehu Chesson: We haven’t heard much about the Chiefs rookie. It’s safe to assume the team wants to keep him, but he may need to show something in the preseason games to reward their investment in him.
  • TE Orson Charles: An intriguing player because of his versatility. He’s listed as a tight end but has reportedly also been getting work with the running backs in camp. Perhaps he has an outside shot at making the team as a fullback / h-back?
  • TE Ross Travis: an athletic project that seems to look better in practice than he does in games. Can he make plays while the lights are on?
  • WR Demarcus Robinson: Expectations for the second year player went up the moment Jeremy Maclin was cut. Robinson has had a relatively quite camp thus far, but it seems he’s part of the Chiefs future at the receiver position.

6) Seeing Stars: Even if their appearance is brief, Chiefs fans should be excited to watch Justin Houston, Tyreek Hill, and Marcus Peters get back on the field. Hopefully, each will remind everyone why KC is still the team to beat in the AFC West.

7) Obviously, the QBs: The long- anticipated debut of the Chiefs very own QBoTF, Patrick Mahomes will be the story of the night. Mahomes should get the third quarter, perhaps a bit more depending on how the game goes. We’ll be watching to see if he shows signs of jitters, if he shows a grasp of the offense and if he can avoid mistakes. Of course, we won’t overreact to spectacular throws he makes, right?

It’s not JUST about Mahomes at the quarterback position. Alex Smith and Tyler Bray each have an opportunity to show they’ve improved and that there is stability at the signal-caller position. Will they elevate their play, knowing that there’s a potential star waiting for his opportunity behind them?