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9 winners and 5 losers from preseason game one

The Chiefs began the preseason 1-0. Who stepped forward — and who stepped back?

NFL: AUG 14 Preseason - Chiefs at 49ers Photo by Bob Kupbens/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Kansas City Chiefs football is back — beginning with a 19-16 victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Saturday night.

Many of the starters — including quarterback Patrick Mahomes — played only one series. Still, we got an impressive glimpse at the new-look offensive and defensive lines before the second and third-team players got their chance to compete. Some of the camp stars fizzled a bit, while others continued collecting good film.

Here are a few who stood out.


Kansas City Chiefs v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Jerick McKinnon: In his first action with the Chiefs, the speedy veteran showed a little bit of everything. He led the rushing attack (3/19), caught a couple of passes (2/21) and even made a big special-teams tackle. The burst is real — and the fit is obvious. McKinnon is going to be a factor this season.

Daurice Fountain: Fountain got a good, extended audition for a job, playing significant snaps throughout the game. His four receptions for 38 yards led the team — and he added a kick return rep as well. The players ahead of Fountain on the depth chart mean that he is still a long shot at making the roster, but he’s getting some solid film for his next job or for a practice squad spot— and that’s what the preseason is all about.

Tim Ward: In an impressive performance, another young player buried on the depth chart added two sacks and five tackles to the defensive box score. Ward was able to time snaps perfectly and get to the quarterback in a hurry. He even clinched the game with a sack — something like a preseason Frank Clark. We have to wonder if the Chiefs will find a way to keep Ward around for yet another season.

Mike Hughes and DeAndre Baker: We’ve been talking about the competition between these two — and Saturday night featured good performances from both. Hughes was active and physical in coverage — and it looked like he’s got juice in returns; his aggressive 40-yard kickoff return is just what Dave Toub wants to see. Baker played significant snaps on defense, nearly had a pick and generally looked the part. Maybe this is less about competition and more about two former first-round picks who will have a substantial role this season.

Tommy Townsend: The second-year punter looks like he’s determined to put his Super Bowl failures behind him. Townsend had a strong night in San Francisco, including a perfectly placed 66-yard punt in the first half.

Turk Wharton and Khalen Saunders: The first team showed that Chris Jones is still a threat on the interior — and that Jarran Reed is a force on all three downs. But it’s the depth on the defensive front that stood out the most. Wharton and Saunders played significant snaps and looked the part of a disruptive rotation. This is a tremendous development for both the team and Saunders — who might have been on the roster bubble before making his case on Saturday.

Jody Fortson: The newly-anointed tight end put together a solid effort on Saturday — including a smooth one-handed catch and run in the final drive. The bulked-up former receiver had three catches for 32 yards during some quality tight end reps. He’s making sure the Chiefs will once again have difficult decisions to make during roster cutdowns.


Kansas City Chiefs v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Noah Gray: The first pass intended for this promising rookie was a bit behind him; he wasn’t able to reel it in. The result was an interception for Chad Henne on an otherwise quiet night for Gray.

Devon Key: The undrafted camp star had an up-and-down debut. He got turned around and ended up chasing Trent Sherfield on his 80-yard touchdown. But it wasn’t all bad for Key. He showed some aggressive play, saved a long touchdown when Juan Thornhill fell and got loads of snaps in his first NFL game. Expect him to keep getting his chance to make a case for the initial 53.

Mecole Hardman: The first-team offense showed promising signs in their only drive with Patrick Mahomes — but it ended when Hardman wasn’t able to make the catch on third down. His route wasn’t ideal — and the defender appeared to be grabbing Hardman’s hands — but we would’ve liked to have seen Hardman displaying some progress.

Marcus Kemp and Cornell Powell: On a night where some of the other backup wide receivers got an extended opportunity to shine, Kemp was conspicuously inconspicuous with two catches for 10 yards. Powell had an offensive pass interference penalty and a missed connection on a deep pass before making his only two catches on the game's final drive. These guys should remain in the thick of the competition for the third-through-fifth wide receiver jobs; each appears capable of more than they showed in the first preseason game.

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