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Chiefs-Packers Instabreakdown: Shurmur is methodical, Ragland gets extra SAM reps

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Instant reaction from the Chiefs’ final preseason game, courtesy of the Arrowhead Pride Nerd Squad.

Kansas City Chiefs v Green Bay Packers Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

Final Score: Kansas City Chiefs 20, Green Bay Packers 27

In a sloppy affair featuring mostly backup players, the Chiefs weren’t quite able to mount a late comeback victory over the Green Bay Packers on Thursday night. The Chiefs avoided major injury this week and stayed largely healthy — the most important piece of this preseason.

Offense

Rookie Nick Allegretti got the nod as the starting center this week, snapping the ball to Kyle Shurmur. Shurmur operated well in the early going, targeting wide receivers Cody Thompson, Byron Pringle, and De’Anthony Thomas on crossing routes and comebacks.

Shurmur engineered a long first drive, resulting in a field goal after stalling out in the red zone — missing Cody Thompson on a fade route and Rashard Davis on a corner route in the end zone. Unfortunately, he was hit as he threw on a stunt that Jimmy Murray and Dino Boyd let slip through, resulting in an interception on the third drive of the game. He ended the fourth drive of the game on a fumbled exchange with Marcus Marshall, recovered by the Packers.

Speaking of Davis, the Chiefs got him into space often and let him use his superior speed and agility to break several passes up the sideline for extra yards — similar to how the Chiefs have utilized Mecole Hardman’s speed this preseason. Davis’ athletic traits may make him a fun practice squad candidate.

Carlos Hyde — as expected — got the bulk of the early work for the Chiefs at running back. He showed positive burst on his first run of the game and picked up a short yardage conversion. Marshall spelled him on some early passing downs, catching an early Shurmur pass. Marshall got the bulk of the reps after Hyde went out, showcasing a few nice jump-cuts to make his own space. He showed good vision between the tackles to hit the right hole and get to the second level — including especially great vision on two fourth-and-one pickups.

Much to the surprise of many fans, Khalil McKenzie did not start the game, coming in with the third-string offensive line. He had a false start penalty early in the second half and looked a little out of sorts with the other linemen in the third string. Even though the Chiefs carried him on the active roster all of 2018, McKenzie might still find himself missing the 53-man roster this season.

Jody Fortson — a six and a half foot tall rookie out of Valdosta State — may have made the biggest case for a practice squad spot in this week’s contest. The WR/TE caught two passes for thirty-eight yards and a touchdown, and he forced a special teams touchdown late in the third quarter. His size is definitely appealing, but he needs some more seasoning at the next level. His length and work ethic make him a strong practice squad candidate.

Kansas City Chiefs v Green Bay Packers Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Defense

Reggie Ragland started as the SAM linebacker this week — not surprising due to the number of reps the Chiefs have looked to get him in his position change. He’s still been running with the first team in practice, and the Chiefs don’t have a suitable backup SAM on the current roster for his 20 percent of the snaps. He showed good pressure off the edge to notch a sack in the second drive and followed it up with a good coverage in the flat on an early pass play. That production is what you’d expect to see from him against this level of competition.

Speaking of production, Jeremiah Attaochou had plenty of it throughout the game. Starting at defensive end, Attaochou lodged a sack coming off the left side on the first drive, then collapsed the pocket from the right side on Ragland’s sack. He showed great hustle and got downfield well to make a tackle on a screen to end the second drive. After Ragland came out of the game, Attaochu moved to SAM linebacker on early downs before moving to defensive end in the sub package. He’s on the bubble in this Chiefs team, but showing that he belongs in the league with his impact this week.

With Morris Claiborne getting extra snaps in his final game before his four-game suspension, Steve Spagnuolo opted to play rookie UDFA cornerback Mark Fields opposite him on the outside. Rashad Fenton continued to get nickel reps when the offense went to three wide receiver sets. Claiborne had a great pass break-up in the corner of the end zone, fully extending to deny the touchdown.

Fields — in contrast — struggled in the first half. A pass interference penalty and a face mask penalty extended the Packers second touchdown drive twice. He also got hit with another pass interference penalty in the end zone just before the half, leading to another score. A live mic when the game went to halftime overheard sideline reporter Todd McShay saying that Andy Reid was animated coming off the field. “Let’s just say I don’t think 26 has a spot on the roster,” said McShay.

Armani Watts and Jordan Lucas were the starting safeties this week — not a big surprise. Watts has a nice fill early on, triggering downhill to the D gap on a run play. He also did well to stay over the top of a deep shot over Fields’ man. Positioning him in a split-safety look has made him noticeably quicker in his processing. Lucas showed well this week, spinning down to take on blocking offensive linemen in the screen game early, then coming up with an interception just before halftime that led to a touchdown.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the game on defense came in the fourth quarter when cornerbacks D’Montre Wade and Herb Miller entered the game. Miller and Ward had both gotten runs with the Chiefs first team this preseason, and both found themselves deep in Thursday’s rotation.