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Four Chiefs with something left to prove in Week 17

Our latest edition of the AP Laboratory previews this week’s Chiefs game by highlighting some young players to watch.

Super Bowl LIV - San Francisco 49ers v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

On the Arrowhead Pride Laboratory Week 17 game preview edition, we mixed things up, as the Kansas City Chiefs are likely to sit several of their starters against the Los Angeles Chargers. This should be a chance for some young players to take on a bigger role on game day.

Here are four players that can help themselves with a good performance on Sunday:

Khalen Saunders

The 2019 third-round pick has been active for all of two games this season. Rookie undrafted free agent Tershawn Wharton has taken his place on game day and has performed well. Saunders should get a chance on Sunday to show why he was taken in the top 100 just a year ago. And he needs to — the 3-tech role is pretty full right now between Chris Jones and Wharton eating up the available snaps.

Mecole Hardman

A year removed from averaging over 20 yards per reception, the second-year receiver has seen more targets but has been more inefficient with his opportunities. We’ve seen less conversions down the field than we did last year — forcing more manufactured touches and run after the catch in an attempt to get him involved in the offense. The Chiefs have struggled to integrate Hardman when their offense is healthy. He’s had more success when Tyreek Hill wasn’t on the field and will likely get a chance to play in that role on Sunday. It will be interesting to see if Hardman can show development as a receiver.

DeAndre Baker

This is beyond just how he plays — it’s if he plays. The Chiefs have already called up Baker twice — including last week when they didn’t activate him on game day. He would be subject to waivers if they did it again. Does he earn a spot on the 53 to lock up his services for 2021? Baker will be eligible to sign with anyone for 2021 if they don’t put him on the 53 this week. It will be interesting to see what the Chiefs do here before the game. Bringing him up to the 53 would be a good sign that he’s done well in his short stint in Kansas City. If he does play, can he show the Chiefs that they have another promising young corner in the building and don’t need to prioritize that position in the draft? Everything around Baker is interesting this week — and it starts with his status on the roster.

Darius Harris

Harris did an admirable job being thrust into a position to make the calls in Week 16 when Ben Niemann had to miss time. We’ve seen a limited sample size of the undrafted free agent out of Middle Tennessee State — but he’s shown enough to be a depth piece in 2021. If he can continue to show flashes in Week 17 — he’ll lock into a role moving into 2021.


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