Young Chiefs Offensive Weapons Shine Again | Bleacher Report
Chiefs rookies Mecole Hardman and Darwin Thompson shined so brightly last week in their preseason debuts that it caused yours truly to write a column suggesting they might make the Kansas City offense unstoppable in 2019.
In their second preseason game Saturday, both offensive weapons proved their maiden performances weren’t anomalies. Hardman’s lone reception was a 17-yard touchdown catch that took place within about two feet of three Steelers defenders, while Thompson gained 30 yards on just four carries.
It’s a given that Hardman will have plenty of opportunities as a second-round pick, even in a pass-catching corps featuring Hill, Travis Kelce and Sammy Watkins. But it’s becoming easier to imagine he’ll play an even larger role than Watkins.
Even more interesting is Thompson’s potential role. Damien Williams and Carlos Hyde have seniority and more depth-chart clout than the rookie sixth-round pick, but Chiefs head coach Andy Reid has already made it clear there’ll be a committee in the offensive backfield. Thompson outplayed Hyde on Saturday, while Williams is far from invincible.
The surging youngsters in Kansas City should make the rest of the team’s preseason intriguing.
Starting safety Tyrann Mathieu sustained a shoulder injury after playing just three defensive snaps, but it doesn’t appear to be serious. In a Sunday conference call, coach Andy Reid said there was a “good chance” Mathieu would’ve stayed in the game if it were a regular-season game.
Despite injuries to Mathieu and others, Reid doesn’t believe he will change his playing time strategy entering the third game against the 49ers.
“I’ve been doing this for a number of years,” Reid said on a Sunday teleconference. “Things happen. It’s a physical game, and so I’ve had success doing it this way.
Mahomes, Chiefs starters fail to score vs. Steelers
Mahomes, a preseason MVP favorite, lit up the Steelers in Week 2 of the 2018 season, throwing six touchdowns in Kansas City’s 42-37 victory. Mahomes and the Chiefs did not come close that that type of production in the quarterback’s 2019 preseason debut Saturday night in Pittsburgh. In two possessions with Mahomes under center, the Chiefs gained 36 yards but were unable to score any points against Pittsburgh’s starting defense. After punting on their first possession, the Chiefs’ second -- and final drive -- with Mahomes ended when running back Carlos Hyde fumbled near midfield. Kansas City didn’t get on the board until late in the first half, when backup quarterback Chad Henne hit Mecole Hardman on a 17-yard touchdown pass that tied the score.
Hardman snared one of three targets for a 17-yard touchdown and also netted zero yards on two punt returns in the Chiefs’ 17-7 preseason loss to the Steelers on Saturday.
The rookie was responsible for the Chiefs’ only touchdown of the night, making his scoring grab on a pass off the arm of Chad Henne in the second quarter. Hardman fared better than his primary competition for the third receiver job, Demarcus Robinson, who finished with one catch for six yards. The two will continue their preseason battle in next Saturday’s exhibition tilt against the 49ers.
Kansas City Chiefs
Hitchens was a replacement-level player in Dallas over the first four years of his career. In 2018, he moved to Kansas City and took a significant step forward in his production by publishing 135 combined tackles. He’s not the fastest or the flashiest, but he’s a very formidable player in a defense tailored to provide a lot of tackles to the inside linebackers. (LB23)
“He’s playing hard, aggressive football,” Reid said of Thompson. “I don’t think he had quite as many touches as last time, but when he had opportunities I thought he did a good job. He’s seeing things. He’s patient enough to where he can bounce (outside). His vision’s good.”
Rumors and roster projections hint at Hyde not being a lock to make the Chiefs. The team would even save a shade over $1 million of cap space if they let Hyde go. It would leave Williams as the starter, Thompson as his understudy and second-year back Darrel Williams as the big back. In that scenario there would be little doubt that Williams would get the kind of touches Fantasy managers envisioned when Reid previously referred to him as a “full-time starter.”
We should be comfortable with the projection that Williams will still lead the way for the Chiefs. He even passes the eyeball test, looking thicker than he did last season. It would be silly to expect him to be as effective as he was in his final five games last season when he averaged 114.4 total yards and a touchdown. But any back getting the lion’s share of work in this offense figures to help earn Fantasy wins. That’s why he’s stable as a third-round pick.
Around the league
Just 24 hours after participating in the Raiders’ walkthrough, the wide receiver did not attend Oakland’s workout in Napa, California. General manager Mike Mayock delivered a stern message afterward -- which the team issued itself on Twitter -- regarding Brown’s absence.
”You all know that A.B. is not here today,” Mayock said. “So, here’s the bottom line. He’s upset about the helmet issue. We have supported that, we appreciate that. OK? But at this point we’ve pretty much exhausted all avenues of relief. So from our perspective, it’s time for him to be all-in or all-out. OK? So we’re hoping he’s back soon. We got 89 guys busting their tails. We are really excited about where this franchise is going, and we hope A.B.’s going to be a big part of it, starting Week 1 against Denver. End of story No questions. OK? Just wanted you guys to know where we were.”
The Bears’ search for a place kicker took another turn on Sunday when the team waived Elliott Fry.
Fry and fellow kicker Eddy Pineiro competed against each other for the job since Chicago opened camp on July 26, but coach Matt Nagy told reporters Sunday that Pineiro earned the opportunity to handle all kicks in practices and games over the final two weeks of the preseason.
”Both kickers for us had done a really good job competing,” Nagy said. “It wasn’t an easy decision for us. Both kickers had done a lot better [in the preseason] than where we thought they were in OTAs.
Former NFL and Texas running back Cedric Benson, one of the most prolific rushers in NCAA and University of Texas history, has died in a motorcycle accident in Texas. He was 36.
Benson’s attorney, Sam Bassett, told NFL.com that Benson was killed in a motorcycle accident Saturday night.
Bassett issued the following statement on Benson’s passing:
”Cedric was not just a client, he was my friend. He was immensely talented and fierce on the football field yet most have no idea the difficulties he overcame to achieve what he did. Though imperfect in some respects, once Cedric was your friend you understood how kind, sensitive and loyal he was as a man. He was like a younger brother or nephew to me. I will miss him very much.”
In case you missed it at Arrowhead Pride
After not appearing in the first preseason game, veteran defensive end Alex Okafor started Saturday night and made an impact right away. He beat the right tackle around the edge and got a third-down sack during the Chiefs’ second drive. It was his last snap of the night and the only sack for the starting defense.
I told you to watch for rookie cornerback Herb Miller in my five things to watch, and you didn’t need to strain your eyes to see him. He popped out by forcing a fumble on the third defensive drive. Later, he contested star wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster on a third-down play and forced the incompletion. He was in early with the first-team defense and seemed to take some snaps from cornerback Chavarius Ward. He did get beat on a deep route late in the first half and then gave up a questionable fourth-quarter touchdown catch, so by no means was it a perfect performance.
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