The most anticipated game for the Chiefs in the last 30 years is in the books, so it’s time to see if we can spot any early trends developing. OK, so maybe I’m overstating the excitement for Friday’s game, but hey, Chiefs football is back with a potential franchise QB, so there should be plenty to be legitimately excited about.
We’ll take a look at some players who helped and hurt their chances with their performances this week.
Tyreek Hill: It took exactly one offensive play to confirm that we are watching something potentially special developing at WR1. Hill has spent the offseason working on being a complete wide receiver, and it showed. He’s the NFL’s fastest man and he’s a natural catcher with the ability to run routes and track the deep ball. This is going to be fun.
Alex Smith: For Hill to maximize his abilities this year, he needs his QB to get him the ball down the field. Smith has had a fantastic camp by all accounts, and he appears to have a great connection building with Hill. Many have suggested that Alex may feel pressure to deliver his best this season. He sure appears motivated and sharp so far.
Pat Mahomes: The reason for Smith’s sense of urgency made his debut on Friday night, and was pretty much what we all expected to see. Mahomes led a TD drive, improvised in and out of the pocket a bit, and went deep on his first pass. He showed tremendous velocity and very good accuracy. The third offensive line was rough, so we got to PM2’s ability to keep plays alive and avoid the rush. The Chiefs apparently agreed that Mahomes did well, (and want to see him with better blocking) as Mahomes is already moving up to the No. 2 QB spot this week.
Rakeem Nuñez-Roches: Did we sleep on RNR this offseason? Nacho has bulked up and retained his explosiveness, as evidenced by his Superman move on this play:
What a play by RNR. Holy smokes he looked good out there. Also, Ramik w/ no hesitation to take on FB and plug gap. pic.twitter.com/5FIldzYL5m— Seth Keysor (@RealMNchiefsfan) August 13, 2017
Not only that, but he’s now playing nose tackle. Is it possible that he’s got a future at that position beyond 2017?
Justin Houston: Some may argue with Houston being on this list because he didn’t appear in the box score. The only players to get sacks for KC this week were from three guys not likely to make the initial roster. Houston stood out because he’s back. He’s one of the very best players in the NFL, he’s healthy and on the field (albeit in limited action). Just watch the below play, where Allen Bailey absolutely wrecks a running play. Why was Bailey able to make that play? Look at Houston setting the edge, and forcing the back to cut back inside. When Houston is on the field, he’s making an impact.
Man I hope Allen Bailey is back at full strength and sweet Moses I think he just killed a guy (also, look at RNR's first step. Whoa) pic.twitter.com/UXK8qc88Ko— Seth Keysor (@RealMNchiefsfan) August 13, 2017
Demarcus Robinson and Jehu Chesson: These two guys could be fighting for roster spots, or they could be the future of the wide receiving group in KC. Each made his case on Friday, with Robinson catching a deep pass, and Chesson showing up on special teams.
Others who are trending upward: Chris Conley, Mitchell Schwartz, LDT, Mitch Morse, Eric Fisher, Allen Bailey, KPL, Ramik Wilson, Steven Nelson
Isiah Battle: Perhaps it’s unfair to call out one player here, as the entire third-string OL struggled on Friday. They weren’t able to run block or pass protect. Battle stood out because it was his holding call that negated Mahomes’s 41 yard completion to Robinson.
Jah Reid: OK, I’m going to call out one other backup offensive lineman, fairness be damned. Reid is the veteran of the group, and should be able to physically dominate against backups from other teams. Backup offensive tackle is quickly becoming a concern.
Gavin Escobar: Escobar is fighting for a roster spot so he HAS to make the most of his opportunities. This week, the most memorable play he was a part of was a mistimed jump that could have been a TD. Escobar has tremendous hands, and some skill as a receiving TE. He’s not known as a blocker. So, if he’s not catching passes, he might not have a job.
Albert Wilson: I didn’t see Wilson make any poor plays against San Fran... I didn’t actually notice him at all, and that’s the problem. Guys like Jones, Robinson, Chesson and Kemp are making their case for a roster spot. Wilson needs to make the case for his, or he could be on the outside looking in.
Justin March-Lillard: We’ve long believed the team really likes March-Lillard. That said, they’ve added some more competition for him, and his roster spot appears to be in jeopardy. Kevin Pierre-Louis and Ukeme Eligwe have drawn praise from coaches for their work on special teams, and their upside on defense. Wilson appears to be asserting himself as a starter. Where does that leave March-Lillard?
Others who are struggling: Tyler Bray, Charcandrick West, Terrance Smith,
Spencer Ware: He scored easily on short yardage, when the blocking was good. He caught the ball well. Overall, he wasn’t bad. When the blocking wasn’t there, he wasn’t able to create very much. Granted it was only four rushing attempts, but getting six yards for a 1.5 yards per carry isn’t a great look. Ware is the No. 1 RB, and he can be productive. But he’s dependent upon his offensive line more than shiftier, speedier backs.
Earl Okine and Marcus Rush: Each got a sack in the third quarter, and looked quick and explosive as pass rushers. Both were also facing backups, and both face long odds to make the roster. Give credit where due, they are making impact plays in preseason action, which is all you can ask of them.
Orson Charles: Charles is one of the more intriguing bubble players in camp with the Chiefs this season. He has the ability to play TE or FB and contribute on special teams. He potentially brings a different element to the Chiefs offense with his versatility. If he can prove he can block, perhaps he can take Ross Travis’s or Gavin Escobar’s roster spot. This week Orson had two catches and a tackle on kickoff coverage. I’m not sure he’s done enough yet, but he’s one to watch.
Marcus Kemp: Often described as the favorite target of Pat Mahomes, Kemp played the third most snaps of any receiver this week. He scored on a one yard TD and he fumbled. I’m not sure if he helped or hurt his cause, but he still has a good chance at making the practice squad.
DeVante Bausby: Bausby has a real shot to make this roster, but he has to stand out in a good way. This week, he drew a PI penalty and appeared to be beaten a couple of times in coverage. His main competition might be Phillip Gaines and DJ White. Neither had a tremendous game, but Bausby certainly didn’t outshine either this week.
Others who are who we thought they were: Jarvis Jenkins, Marcus Peters, Frank Zombo