The Kansas City Chiefs stumbled a bit in the dress rehearsal last week against the Seattle Seahawks. Penalties and drops made it a rough one to watch. If you can look past these two types of correctable, self-inflicted mistakes, there were still plenty of positives.
We’ll take a look at some players who helped and hurt their chances with their performances this week.
RB Kareem Hunt: We thought all along that Hunt would be able to contribute early. Well, he’ll certainly get his chance now with Spencer Ware’s injury. The recently named starting running back has looked elusive and has an impressive burst. He is solid as a receiver out of the backfield, and can replace some of the power running that the Chiefs will miss without Ware.
WR Marcus Kemp: He’s been a camp favorite of the Chiefs QBOTF, but we didn’t give him much of a shot to make the 53-man roster. That feels like it’s changing in the last couple of weeks. Kemp came up with two huge plays on special teams: a blocked punt, and a devastating hit on the returner. On offense, Kemp was in for the third most snaps at WR, but failed to record a catch. However, assuming special teams is his route to the roster ... Kemp may be making progress. He was out there as a starter playing the bulk of the special teams snaps, and looks like a potential core four guy.
WR Jehu Chesson: Chesson only had one catch this week, but it was a nice 19-yard play one on the sideline. He was almost there on several other plays, so he’ll have plenty to work on in the film room and practice field. I also noticed him as being among the first players down the field on kick coverage. Expect the rookie to be given every chance to continue his development this season.
DE Chris Jones: Jones came back and got to the QB this week. He’s got a real chance to shine in 2017 with talent all around him on the defensive line. He’s a high-energy disruptive force to be reckoned with.
WR De’Anthony Thomas: The lone highlight for most people watching this game was his blazing 95-yard touchdown on a kickoff late in the first half. DAT was also active on offense and on coverage units again this week. Instead of wondering if he’ll make the roster, should we be wondering if he can be more involved in the offense?
Others who are trending upward: Gehrig Dieter, Ross Travis, Zach Fulton, Bennie Logan, Ukeme Eligwe, Allen Bailey, Eric Murray
WR Demarcus Robinson : I noted several near misses again this week with Robinson, but no actual plays made. Many people are starting to wonder what is going on with the second year player. Demarcus was supposed to be the preseason star this year, but has yet to make an impact. We think he’s on the initial 53-man roster, but doubt is creeping in. He’s still a valued special teams player, but even saw fewer snaps there this week. I imagine he’ll play a lot in the final preseason game, which isn’t a great sign for him. But, hey, maybe he’ll make some plays?
TE Gavin Escobar: Another week, another chance for Escobar to impress ... another week where he had a catch, but didn’t really stand out. There’s no question he’s behind Kelce and Harris on the depth chart at this point. I’m assuming he’s probably on the roster, but he wouldn’t be too shocking of a cut either.
TE Orson Charles: Charles is a guy I’ve been advocating for ever since he signed this offseason, but his prospects of making this roster are getting slim. He appears to have gotten more third team snaps on offense this week, and made a big special teams blunder that cost the Chiefs possession of the blocked punt.
LB Justin March-Lillard: It’s been a quiet preseason for a player many expected to return to a starting role with the Chiefs. He hasn’t been productive, and snaps continue to decrease. This week, he didn’t get on the field except for special teams. Now with the acquisition of Reggie Ragland, March-Lillard is likely on the outside of the 53.
S Leon McQuay: McQuay didn’t get on the field on defense this week, either. He’s moved around a bit between safety and cornerback this offseason, but hasn’t distinguished himself at either spot yet. He might be the one 2017 draft pick that ends up being cut and added to the practice squad if he isn’t claimed.
Others who are struggling: OT Isaiah Battle, OT Jah Reid, NT Roy Miller, OT Donald Hawkins
WR Albert Wilson: I’m done trying to make a case for Wilson getting cut. I don’t think it’s happening. He struggled to catch the ball again this week, but again got starters reps and significant special teams work. He may be the classic example of the coaching staff seeing something we don’t see as fans.
LB Frank Zombo: Here’s another example, and a guy we haven't’ talked about much this year. He is the first guy off the bench at OLB, and played Houston’s snaps this week. He’s also a core four special teams guy and has a little versatility. The steady veteran will be a part of the Chiefs plans again this season.
CB Phillip Gaines: A sideways week for Gaines as he didn’t really stand out in a bad or good way. He was OK in coverage, and played quite a few special teams snaps. Seems like he’ll be on the roster, but won’t play much when Mitchell is healthy again.
LB Earl Okine: Watching Okine this week, I was struck by how much he reminded me of a young Dee Ford. He’s a bit upright, but fast on the edge. He tends to get himself too far upfield and lacks awareness once he gets there. Perhaps he’s a guy that can develop on the practice squad?
S Daniel Sorensen: I noticed Dirty Dan often this week. He can really close on the ball, and is a sound tackler. He was called for pass interference on Jimmy Graham deep, but came right back with a pass defended near the goal line. He’s a solid contributor on defense and special teams.
Others who are who we thought they were: Jarvis Jenkins, DeVante Bausby, Dee Ford