Kansas City Chiefs: Right Guard
The Kansas City Chiefs squandered a chance to win back-to-back Super Bowls after the offensive line imploded on the biggest stage. Team brass made it a priority to overhaul the entire unit this offseason, recently completing a series of acquisitions that could result in five new starters during the 2021 campaign.
Orlando Brown Jr. is certain to man the left tackle spot considering the club gave up a first-round pick for his services, Joe Thuney is a slam-dunk left guard starter after signing a five-year, $80 million deal, and Creed Humphrey is likely to be the top center after the Chiefs took him in the second round of the draft.
The right portion of the line isn’t as solidified as the left. Kansas City will likely use training camp to determine who wins both the guard and tackle jobs here, with the battle at right guard being especially intriguing.
Kyle Long, who came out of retirement to join the Chiefs, will be one of the top contenders, but the Chiefs have Laurent Duvernay-Tardif under contract as well. Duvernay-Tardif opted out of the 2020 campaign but is returning to the team this offseason and could very well win his starting gig back.
If Long doesn’t start at right guard, he could slot in as a right tackle. He won’t have an easy time cracking the rotation there, either, as Lucas Niang and Mike Remmers are quite capable in that role and will be fighting for the starting job as well.
No matter how these training camp bouts play out, the Chiefs look absolutely loaded in the trenches and will have the depth to withstand injuries as they prepare to make a run to a third consecutive title game.
So some people were surprised/delighted to see Wallace wearing a Chiefs cap and T-shirt Thursday while on ESPN’s “The Jump.”
As it turns out, Wallace has been a Chiefs fan for nearly 30 years.
In 2009, Wallace attended the Chiefs-Eagles game in Philadelphia and he was wearing a Derrick Thomas jersey.
1) Aaron Rodgers leads the Broncos on a deep playoff run
Rodgers is the most talented quarterback ever, fresh off his best season ever, so he won’t come cheap. Three first-rounders and OLB Bradley Chubb is the starting point of a potential trade. But man, just think of this quarterback with this roster. The Broncos would surround the 37-year-old with explosive playmakers in the passing game, including receivers Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton and KJ Hamler, as well as tight end Noah Fant. The ground game is rock solid, with enticing second-round pick Javonte Williams joining seasoned veteran Melvin Gordon. And you know Vic Fangio will field a stout defense, especially now that he has stud corners in Patrick Surtain II and Kyle Fuller to fulfill his vision.
I would still call Kansas City “the team to beat” in the AFC West and AFC, but I’d put a Rodgers-led Broncos team up with anyone else in the loaded conference. Denver would be right in the mix with a Bills squad that’s beginning to look like a juggernaut, an emerging Browns team thinking Super Bowl, the always-in-the-conversation Ravens and the ready-to-rumble Colts. And come January, are you betting against Mr. Rodgers?
“Travis Kelce, everybody knows he’s gonna get the ball, and that guy is one of the best route runners out there,” said Walls. “I won’t leave out George Kittle. He was hurt last year, I like the way he plays, he plays hard and is fierce on the football field.”
Walls was very candid in his response to the question of which of the two Pro Bowl tight end’s he’d prefer on his team.
“I would take Kelce, no offense to George Kittle,” said Walls. “I still love the 49ers, but what Kelce does best is the perfect combination with Patrick Mahomes. I bet you if they called ten plays, eight of them end up being some kind of broken version of the play. He may get covered, he may get cut off. Patrick may scramble he may come off with a second or third primary read, Mahomes is going through his retreat, and he can improvise all of them. He’s the best improviser I’ve ever seen out there it is just hard to cover that guy especially when Mahomes gets out in space, you got two threats, a running threat and a guy in Kelce who can catch and run too and he’s really the best at it.”
8) Arrowhead Stadium
Arrowhead Stadium opened in 1972, has a capacity of 76,416, and is the home of the Kansas City Chiefs.
If anyone can rival the Seahawks for home-field advantage, it is the Chiefs and Arrowhead Stadium. One of the older stadiums still around, it has seen improvements to help it keep up with the times but not lose the history. In September 2014, Chiefs Kingdom set the Guinness World Record for the loudest crowd volume at 142.2 decibels.
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“He has a swag to him that I didn’t know that he had at first,” receiver Kendrick Bourne said Thursday. “He’s out there confident, and that is what you need in a quarterback. Good energy, awesome guy, comes to work and you just can feel his energy and leadership already.”
Gruden leads the charge for one of the slowest rebuilds in recent years. His squads have fizzled out late in the regular season with a 3-7 record in December and January over the last two campaigns.
Despite all of that, Gruden isn’t on the hot seat. The Athletic’s Vic Tafur suggested the Raiders’ lead skipper could point the finger elsewhere if the team doesn’t show further improvement.
“If Gruden’s seat ever gets warm, he just chucks it out the window and gets another one,” Tafur wrote. “There are a couple of scapegoats already lined up for next season if the Raiders don’t improve on 8-8.”
Gruden could assign the blame to two possible “fall guys.”
He can take a critical look at general manager Mike Mayock’s recent first-round picks who haven’t played up to expectations, such as defensive end Clelin Ferrell and safety Johnathan Abram. Last year, the Raiders’ 2020 first-round picks, wideout Henry Ruggs III and cornerback Damon Arnette, also had disappointing campaigns.
In the event that the Raiders passing offense takes a step back, Gruden may consider acquiring another veteran quarterback as an upgrade over Derek Carr, who’s made strides every year but still has some fumbling issues with limited touchdown production.
“There’s a little added chip [on his shoulder] because you’ve always got your fans that are going to heckle,” Mosley said Thursday in his first interview since opting out in 2020 due to COVID-19 concerns. “When I get back on the field, I definitely want to make sure they respect the name again.”
Mosley was a big name after making four Pro Bowls with the Baltimore Ravens, a status he parlayed into the richest free-agent contract ever for an inside linebacker — five years, $85 million. He suffered a severe groin injury in the 2019 opener, aggravated the injury in his comeback game a few weeks later and that was that. He eventually had surgery.
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The Chiefs won’t play a preseason game until mid-August — and Hitchens knows that before then, his Chiefs defense will train by going head to head with perhaps the best offense in football.
“We all know this is a spread-type of offense and a lot of guys are running, criss-crossing, Tyreek Hill’s running down the field and things like that,” explained Hitchens. “Yeah, I got a little more lean, and I’m just watching the body fat. It’s no secret. I am in year eight. I can’t do what I did three-four years ago, so yeah. I’m just trying to lean out, watch my diet, and just keep working. Try different things and hopefully, it works for my body. Everybody’s different, so this is something different that I’m trying this year, it’s lean more and add the bulk as we add both reps and practice and games and things like that.”
The linebacker’s newfound strategy is reminiscent to that of the franchise’s all-time leading tackler Derrick Johnson — and his efforts as he grew older in the league. Especially toward the end of his playing career, Johnson would come into camp lighter in weight.
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