The Kansas City Chiefs preseason rolled on with another win on Friday — and there were plenty of reasons why fans should be feeling optimistic about the upcoming season. Against the Arizona Cardinals, the defense looked absolutely dominant — while the offensive line upgrades suggest that Kansas City will be able to assert its will on opposing defenses.
But it’s just the preseason. They are still working on some things, so it shouldn’t be surprising that even the best players can have off-nights. (Yes... I’m going there)
Here are just a few of the Chiefs who stood out on Friday night.
- Chris Jones: Last week, Jones did what he did best: he destroyed an offensive lineman and took down the quarterback from the interior. This week — with another sack in an impressive overall performance that included a batted pass at the line of scrimmage — Jones showed off what he’s been working on at the EDGE position. Place your DPOY bets on Jones. He is poised for a monster season.
- Juan Thornhill: Was the concern about Thornhill much ado about nothing? The third-year free safety played with the first team and made the play of the game with a diving interception in the end zone. He’s getting plenty of reps this preseason. It appears his confidence is returning — and when the games count, he’ll be ready to contribute.
- Byron Pringle: Just when people were worrying about the wide receiver group, one of the guys for whom everyone seems to be rooting steps up. Pringle led all Chiefs with four catches for 63 yards — including a beautiful 41-yard catch. He’s got the physicality and the kick return ability that ensures he’ll be on the roster — but if his offensive production can be at this level, Pringle could be a real factor this season.
- Daurice Fountain: The other factor in the wide receiver room, No. 82 has really emerged in the preseason games. Like a young Dwayne Bowe, Fountain looks like a guy who can move the chains in this offense. With another three catches on Friday night — and a 41-yarder of his own — Fountain is going to be a difficult guy for the Chiefs to cut.
- The new-look offensive line: At this point, It’s difficult to single out any one of these guys — but the big uglies up front are playing beautifully. Mahomes hasn’t really been hit and the running backs are finding plenty of room to operate. Early on, Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Darwin Thompson looked great — and with the backups, even Derrick Gore was running wild. With both starters and depth, the offensive line is really coming together.
- Devon Key: When you’re an undrafted player who is trying to make the roster against tall odds, preseason games are your chance to prove that what happens in practice can translate; you want to make memorable plays. Unfortunately for Key, he’s had a memorable play in each exhibition game that resulted in an opponent touchdown. It’s a valuable experience for Key — but it might mean that he is a practice-squad candidate instead of a lock for the roster.
- Patrick Mahomes: The greatest player in the world doesn’t belong on this list very often — but when he struggles, it’s worth noting. Mahomes was 10 of 18 for 78 yards and an interception, good for a 43.8 rating. After completing his first four pass attempts, the opening drive stalled when he and Mecole Hardman were once again not on the same page, missing on three tries for a score. The protection was good — the running game looked better — but Mahomes was just a bit off. Clearly, there’s nothing to be concerned about; it just wasn’t his night.
- Demarcus Robinson: Mahomes didn’t fare much better when targeting Demarcus Robinson, who caught only two of his six targets. On a night where Tyreek Hill didn’t play, the Chiefs were looking for someone to step up. Robinson didn’t fare much better as a punt returner, either — he had two for just five yards. Is there a chance that Pringle and/or Fountain could pass Robinson on the depth chart?