The Kansas City Chiefs capped off the 2019 preseason with a 27-20 loss to the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on Thursday night. They begin the regular season on the road against the Jacksonville Jaguars a week from Sunday.
Here are five winners and four losers from Thursday’s game:
- Pass rusher Jeremiah Attaochu was brought in this offseason and seemed like a candidate to see SAM linebacker snaps. He hasn’t been talked about much since his signing — but he made sure fans knew his name today. Attaochu started off early, earning a couple of sacks right off the bat. He also accumulated two tackles for loss. He showed consistent pressure throughout his time in the game. He needed a good performance to help solidify his role. We’ll see if Thursday’s performance was enough.
- Veteran cornerback Morris Claiborne was in there on Thursday night to get a few more reps before his four-game suspension begins in Week 1 of the regular season. He did show signs of rust — but also showed why he may be a starting corner when he is eligible in Week 5. A pass deflection in the second quarter was his highlight. It was a throw to the corner of the end zone, and Claiborne laid himself out to bat the throw away. For this cornerback group, any plays on the ball are positives.
- The defensive line looked like they were getting penetration on Thursday. Contributing out on the edge was reserve pass rusher Rob McCray. He wasn’t able to accumulate any stats, but you saw his quickness around the edge and the pressure he put on the quarterback in the game. One of his hurries resulted in a bad throw being picked off by safety Jordan Lucas. McCray boosted his stock among other NFL teams tonight.
- Wide receiver (and former tight end) Jody Fortson has been a development project since the day he was brought in. His size as a receiver has made him an intriguing prospect. He stood out on Thursday by using that big frame and long arms. He hooked up with quarterback Kyle Shurmur for 36 yards on his first target, and then hauled in a goal line jump-ball throw to score the team’s first touchdown of the night. He also forced a fumble on kickoff that the Chiefs recovered. He may not make the roster, but he is another player that helped his chances at finding a roster spot elsewhere.
- Rookie third-round pick Khalen Saunders was still lower on the depth chart than anyone would want. Teammates Joey Ivie and Justin Hamilton started the game over Saunders, but he got in the game and did his thing. Saunders immediately disrupted a pass that led to the Lucas interception by running straight at the quarterback as he scanned the field. He also produced another pressure a little later. While it may not be much, it’s good for Saunders to show some signs of life. It will give him — and the fans — a boost of confidence.
- The offense started out with an emphasis on running the ball. Carlos Hyde was force-fed on the first drive, but only ended up with 29 yards on eight carries. The amount of playing time he saw speaks volumes about his place on this roster. Fellow running backs Darwin Thompson and Darrel Williams did not play one snap. The Chiefs were probably hoping a team would see Hyde on Thursday and offer compensation — but I don’t think his performance warranted that. Look for Hyde to be cut before Saturday.
- The only defensive starter that played tonight was linebacker Reggie Ragland. He actually made a few plays — including a tackle for loss and sack towards the beginning of the game. But the reason he is a loser for Thursday’s game is that he played so much. He was seeing snaps into the second quarter. He also seemed to be the reason a receiver was left wide open on a touchdown catch early in the game. He has recently been moved to the SAM linebacker position, so maybe they wanted him to get more time in that spot. Either way, he needs to have his role down in the next ten days.
- There wasn’t a single starting offensive lineman that took a snap on Thursday, so there’s obviously going to be some hiccups. The hiccups just happened to turn into very negative plays. Right tackle Pace Murphy allowed pressure to cause a third-down sack in the red zone. There was quick penetration on a Shurmur pass that led to the ball popping up and turning into a pick-six. There was another batted pass caused by the protection being pushed back.
- Rookie cornerback Mark Fields has made a ton of plays this offseason. He made some more on Thursday, but there were also multiple penalties. Fields drew two defensive pass interference penalties and a face mask penalty — all happening in a short period of time. Those flags aren’t going to help him make this roster. It’ll be interesting to see how the Chiefs handle him in the days to come.