The Chiefs face the Seahawks in the slightly-more-important third preseason game this week. Andy Reid indicated the starters are scheduled for three quarters of work, and has already listed a handful of injured players that will be out, and a couple of key guys that will finally play. Below are a few things we’ll be watching for on Friday night against the Seahawks.
1) Keep an eye on the snap counts
The third preseason game is typically the “dress rehearsal” where many of the starters get the longest look, and some of the long shots don’t play. So, we should get some hints on where guys stand based on their snap counts. There aren’t any absolute rules, but there are a few educated guesses we can make.
- IF they don’t play at all: their spot is 100 percent secure OR they are 100 percent getting cut. This may include top practice squad candidates, the Chiefs may be hiding them to ensure they clear waivers.
- IF they play with the starters: they are still alive in the competition.
- IF they only play in the fourth quarter: they may be auditioning for their next team.
2) Watch the special teams units
The guys who are playing on multiple special teams units have a great chance of making the roster. “Core Four” players who are on the first team punt return, punt coverage, kickoff return and kickoff coverage units are almost always locks to make the initial 53-man roster. Besides just making the roster, continuing the tradition of excellence in special teams is an important factor for the Chiefs to continue winning. So, we’ll want to see these units gel this week, making and preventing game-changing plays.
3) Balance on offense
Week 1, the Chiefs aired it out. Each of the first three QBs threw deep passes on their first attempt. Weeks two, the Chiefs focused on the run game, and the three RBs combined for 228 yards and 6.9 yards per carry. So, logically, this week, we should be looking for a balanced offense. Mixing in deep shots, screens and running plays, the first team offense should be able to move the ball and put points on the board, even against a good defensive team like Seattle.
4) The remaining roster battles
TE depth, RB depth, OL depth, ILB depth are among the competitions that are still outstanding. Gavin Escobar, Orson Charles, Ross Travis, Charcandrick West, C.J. Spiller, Josh Mauga, Justin March-Lillard, these are a few of the players who have a golden opportunity to solidify a roster spot or move up the depth chart this week.
5) Speaking of position battles, watch the “other” CBs
Terrance Mitchell won’t play this week, so we’ll get another long look at the depth behind him and Marcus Peters. Phillip Gaines had some trouble with the Bengals WRs, so we’ll see if that was simply a product of good WR play ... or if Gaines is struggling. Watch to see if D.J. White or De’Vante Bausby are able to distinguish themselves against Seattle. It could be the difference between them making the squad or not.
6) The return of two stars
Eric Berry and Chris Jones are back this week. I would assume each gets a limited number of snaps as a tuneup for the regular season. These guys are serious impact players for the Chiefs defense, so it will be fun to see them line up and fire up the squad on Friday.
7) Roy Miller’s chance
Last week, I suggested watching the Chiefs defensive line, just because it was fun. Bennie Logan didn’t disappoint in his debut, Allen Bailey and Tanoh Kpassagnon continued to show some dominant traits, and the group looks as good as advertised. This week, we’ll get our first look at Roy Miller. Miller has a reputation as a run stopper, just ask him. I would have previously assumed he was a near-lock to make the initial roster, but with RNR’s growth (literal and on-field) he might now be a factor in the middle that would allow the Chiefs to carry one less defensive lineman. Miller will get his shot this week to prove that he’s a guy they need to keep around.
8) Escape without significant injury
Especially in preseason, this is among the most important goals for the team. The NFL is a game of attrition, the healthiest and deepest teams have an advantage. When the games don’t count, injuries seem to be more frustrating. So, hold your breath for another relatively healthy week for the Chiefs.