NFL teams don’t usually play their starters in the final preseason game of the year, and that can lead to some fan disinterest. But for the Kansas City Chiefs, there are still plenty of fascinating storylines that will play out during the final preseason game on Thursday night, when they will play the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.
Here are a few:
Matt Moore could make his Chiefs debut
Editor’s note: Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said that Moore would not be making his debut with the team on Thursday night. The playing time will go to Chase Litton and Kyle Shurmur.
The Chiefs acquired the former Miami Dolphins backup quarterback after Chad Henne suffering a fractured ankle in the 27-17 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. As a starter, Moore has a 15-15 record with 45 touchdowns and 36 interceptions.
How quickly he’ll be able to pick up the offense — on top of how well he actually plays — will be crucial in figuring out how viable he is as Patrick Mahomes’ backup.
The final battle between Kyle Shurmur and Chase Litton
With the addition of Moore, it’s now clear that the Chiefs only have room for one more quarterback — one who will likely be placed on the practice squad. Shurmur and Litton have been battling back and forth in their last few outings. After their performances in the 49ers game, Shurmur is trending upward — and Litton is heading in the wrong direction.
But it would be unwise to count Litton out. He does still have the advantage of a year’s worth of experience over Shurmur — something offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy said is valuable.
“He’s a year into it, so one thing that gives him an opportunity of is that the experience of being around it,” Bieniemy said after practice Monday. “Saying it, speaking it, hearing the language every day, being in that room with the players that he is in there with — and being in there with us, with the coaching staff, obviously — that gives him a great deal of experience.
“I think what [the last preseason game] does is that it gives these two kids an opportunity to go out and display what they are and who they are. I’m excited. I’m sure they’re excited.”
Carlos Hyde’s last stand
The veteran running back had high expectations at the start of the offseason — and some even expected him to compete to become the starting running back. But now, Hyde appears to be at his lowest level since training camp started, getting just one measly rushing attempt for a single yard in the San Francisco game.
To make matters worse, the three other running backs against whom he was competing — Damien Williams, Darwin Thompson and Darrel Williams — all got rushing attempts with the first team, while Hyde’s lone attempt was with the backups.
It’s possible that Hyde could make it in by a toenail; the Chiefs could decide to take four or five running backs on the final 53-man roster. But otherwise it looks like he may be on the outs. So on Thursday, we should see Hyde make a desperate, all-out performance to try and make the final roster.
What does the Chiefs defensive depth look like without Breeland Speaks?
Speaks suffered an MCL sprain and meniscal injury in the second preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He is undergoing surgery on Tuesday and is expected to be out for a good portion of the regular season. This will be a huge hit to the Chiefs’ defensive depth — and Thursday will show whether or not the Chiefs have a guy that can step up.
Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said that defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah, will be one of the key guys to fill the hole Speaks has left.
“Emmanuel... he battled an injury early and is fighting his way back,” Spagnuolo said on Monday. “The other three guys have done a nice job. We just need to get some reps underneath everyone’s belt, and away we go. We’ll have to make up for it somehow.
“It’s all about production in this business, so we’ll be looking for the guys that’ll be making plays... I’d like to see — more than anything — the guys not make the same mistake twice. That tells me maybe they’re picking it up. That’ll be one of the things we focus on.”