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Chiefs rewatch: 25 thoughts on the first preseason game

Friday’s preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers was a mostly positive experience for the 90 players on the Kansas City Chiefs roster. Here are my observations from the game by quarter.

First Quarter

1. I mentioned in my training camp notebook the other day that Alex Smith is trying to put the ball in places he normally doesn’t. Sure, the aggressive shot to Tyreek Hill was a positive sign, but the best thing I saw from the work they’ve done in camp was something else. I saw Smith throw with a little more anticipation and a slightly quicker trigger, surely a byproduct of being more aggressive in practices.

2. It was nice to see Allen Bailey back on the field. He looked like his old self. I anticipate he starts Week 1.

3. I’m not worried about the Chiefs corners. They didn’t draft anyone with a high pick in the secondary, and it looks like they were right not to. Steven Nelson flashed the most of the likely active roster corners.

4. Keep an eye throughout the preseason on how the defense does against play action. Probably the worst part of the preseason game as a whole for the team.

5. How about Andy Reid running play out of a bunch formation with Demetrius Harris, Ross Travis and Anthony Sherman? Never change, Andy.

6. Tyler Bray’s biggest issue on Friday was ball placement. Most of his throws were too high and that leads to interceptions, especially in the middle of the field.

Second Quarter

7. A lot of people have mentioned Rakeem Nunez-Roches name as a player that stood out. I agree. You have to take preseason games with a grain of salt, but his get off on Friday translates in any game setting.

8. I think Ramik Wilson is starting next to Derrick Johnson in Foxboro. He looked decisive, smooth and efficient.

9. Don’t worry about Kareem Hunt only getting one carry. He got plenty of snaps, just no touches. He looks like he’s RB2 right now. He played well on special teams as well scooping up that fumble.

10. The Chiefs have something in Tanoh Kpassagnon. Expectations for 2017 shouldn’t be more than a sub package rusher, but his long term outlook is positive. Kpassagnon showed excellent get off at times, but needs to be more consistent with his leverage. Most of the time, it was one or the other. Good burst but played high. Played low with a slower get off. Either way, there were flashes in both instances. Also, he looked best as a five technique. He stood up a few times, but he looked more comfortable inside.

11. I’m going to wait to review the Mahomes Preseason Checklist until the end of the preseason. We’ll do a big breakdown of what he was able to accomplish throughout the preseason. The second quarter brought us a big play that got called back, but most of he takeaways I had on Mahomes were from the third quarter.

12. The Chiefs have something with Demarcus Robinson, who was on the receiving end of the 40 yard go route from Mahomes. His growth is both encouraging and exciting.

Third Quarter

13. The Chiefs are going to be able to do more creative things in the screen game with Mahomes. Timing is everything in screen game design. Being able to use quicker timing on these plays will be a huge asset, especially with Hill being on the receiving end. It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it is.

14. We saw everything we should be excited about and also the steep learning curve Mahomes has on Friday. The best example of this was the incompletion in the back of the end zone to Gavin Escobar. He was able to find an open receiver, but the process he used to get the ball to him needs improvement. He needs to be more efficient in his escape from the pocket, and had a little more time to set his throw on the run up. The rush to deliver the ball led to a high uncatchable pass.

15. His comfort level under center still isn’t particularly high. You can see him trying work through the footwork, and the lack of comfort he has in his hand offs. That just takes muscle memory but speaks to the unusual nature of him as a prospect. He lacks the subtle nuances of ball handling in the run game.

16. Overall there was a lot to be excited about. His arm talent and decision making was pretty good. He did plenty to show the promise he has as a prospect. It’ll be fun to see his growth over the next month.

17. Ukeme Eligwe has a chance to be in the middle of the Chiefense for a long time. The game looked slow to him. He showed great levels of patience and play recognition. He was efficient in his movement and was well positioned most of the night. He needs to get off blocks a little better and he missed a tackle, but there were a lot of positive signs.

18. Kevin Pierre-Louis is making more sense to me the more I watch him. He’s the same special teams talent that DJ Alexander but a better fit as an inside linebacker. His blocked punt was confirmation that he’s the same kind of four-core player that his predecessor was.

19. Speaking of four-core special teamers, add Jehu Chesson to the list of strong candidates to be one. I don’t know what kind of contribution he’ll have as a receiver in 2017, but he looked good in both kickoff return and coverage.

20. I think Ashton Lampkin is going to make the practice squad. Made some big hits, and showed pretty well in coverage.

Fourth Quarter

I could probably make half this up and most of you wouldn’t know the difference. Wow, was Jerry Rice impressive. The Chiefs have something with him. In all seriousness though, I do have a few observations.

21. Poor Joel Stave was the least popular guy in Kansas City last night. He replaced Mahomes in the fourth quarter to the dismay of all Chiefs fans. Tough act to follow. It was like the Beatles opening for John Cougar Mellencamp.

22. JR Nelson looked good in man coverage, but his need to gain weight showed up on the TD catch he gave on a fade. His measurables make him an intriguing prospect at corner, but I think he needs a year in a weight room.

23. Gehrig Dieter still seems like a guy I want to get a long look at as a practice squad player. Has a chance to be a four-core special teamer and steady insider receiver.

24. Marcus Kemp didn’t help himself with his fourth quarter fumble. I doubt he would be on the receiving end of bubble screens in a real game though. He’s more of a straight line type runner. The Chiefs could have several receivers wind up on the practice squad this year.

25. Earl Okine is a freak of nature and he definitely has some explosiveness. But the clock is running out on the already 27 year old outside linebacker. He’s still at least a year away from having a chance at contributing on an NFL roster, so it’s getting closer to a time where the juice may not be worth the squeeze on an aging player.

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