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Chiefs vs. Texans: Making sense of the snap counts

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What do the snap counts from preseason game one tell us about the Kansas City Chiefs?

NFL: Houston Texans at Kansas City Chiefs Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Chiefs fell to the Houston Texans, 17-10, Thursday night in their 2018 preseason opener.

Here were the snap counts for the Chiefs:

Offense

Defense

Starters (offense): WR Tyreek Hill, LT Eric Fisher, LG Cam Erving, C Mitch Morse, RG Dr. Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, RT Mitch Schwartz, TE Travis Kelce, WR Sammy Watkins, QB Patrick Mahomes, RB Kareem Hunt, FB Anthony Sherman

Starters (defense): LDE Chris Jones, NT Xavier Williams, RDE Allen Bailey, LOLB Justin Houston, LILB Terrance Smith, RILB Ukeme Eligwe, ROLB Dee Ford, LCB Steve Nelson, RCB Kendall Fuller, S Eric Murray, S Armani Watts

Did not play: De’Anthony Thomas, Eric Berry, Keith Reaser, Spencer Ware, Leon McQuay, Charcandrick West, Dorian O’Daniel, Daniel Sorensen, Otha Peters, Anthony Hitchens, Dillon Gordon, Derrick Nnadi, Reggie Ragland

Takeaways (in no particular order)

  • I wouldn’t read too much into the Chiefs who rested. There is no reason to push it in a meaningless preseason game if a player isn’t 100 percent ready to go.
  • Good to see Kahlil McKenzie getting 37 snaps against other players. When I zoned in on McKenzie during the game, it appeared his technique no doubt needs some work, but he looked like an absolute wall. Kudos to the Chiefs for starting the project and I’m eager to see where it goes.
  • Alex Ellis and Jace Amaro received 25 snaps and 24 snaps, respectively, as they, and Tim Wright, battle for TE3. Keep in mind this — Demetrius Harris is suspended for Week 1 against the Los Angeles Chargers. How often do division races come down to one game? We may not realize how important this battle is until 20 weeks from now.
  • Demarcus Robinson worked in for 21 snaps, while Chris Conley only saw 5. I imagine the Chiefs are bringing back Conley from his injury cautiously. Right now, this is a non-indicator for me.
  • Damien Williams and Darrel Williams received the same number of snaps—21. Kerwynn Williams come in for 17.
  • On defense, rookie safety Armani Watts led snap counts, and it wasn’t even close. Watts had 49 snaps (89 percent), and the next Chiefs defender, Breeland Speaks, had 34 (62 percent). What does this tell me? The Chiefs are attempting to expedite the development of Watts with the news that Daniel Sorensen will miss the early part of the regular season. At the same time, they are evaluating if they have enough on their current roster—they have 49 snaps to review if they can potentially trust the rookie in the rotation with veteran Eric Murray as Sorensen works his way back. Murray had 19 snaps.
  • Andy Reid on Watts: “We have the injury there, so we are trying guys to see who fits into that. He is a young guy that needs reps, so I figured we would put him in and give him as many reps as we possibly could. I thought he had some nice plays. Again, I am sure there are some things he would like to have back, but I thought he did some nice things there.”
  • Inside linebackers Terrance Smith (31) and Ukeme Eligwe (29) saw a good bit of time with Anthony Hitchens and Reggie Ragland held out of the lineup. You’d like to see Hitchens and Ragland getting some time together, but getting the depth some real, meaningful reps is a decent silver lining.
  • Cornerback David Amerson had just eight snaps but managed two of the Chiefs’ seven penalties on the night.