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Film review: Fixes are needed, but the Chiefs’ offensive line is doing very well

Kansas City’s offensive line still has some work to do, but shows overall improvement against Arizona.

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Arizona Cardinals Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Chiefs’ second preseason game — this one against the Arizona Cardinals on Friday night — is in the books. The offensive line turned in another positive performance.

Lucas Niang continues to improve — even within this game. In both technique and consistency, he needs improvement when kick-sliding; a bigger tackle must have good footwork to hold up against faster edge rushers.

Still... Niang has been impressive thus far — and appears to have a firm hold on the right tackle spot. But in order to remain in the starting lineup, there are points of improvement he needs to address.

Meanwhile, the youth Kansas City has in the trenches bodes well for how good this unit can actually become. Center Creed Humphrey seems to be far more polished than a typical rookie lineman — and fellow rookie Trey Smith plays with the kind of intensity that you expect a starting right guard to have. Smith’s run blocking is his bread and butter — but Chiefs general manager Brett Veach primarily brought him to the team to help protect quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

The thing that is encouraging about Smith is that when he does make a mistake, he makes it at 100 miles an hour; even though he may not always be in the right spot, there just doesn’t seem to be any quit in this kid. Communication and reps will go a long way toward improving his pass protection.

Orlando Brown Jr.’s acquisition was the gem of the offseason — and you can say similar things about his play. Brown is where he should be, but there is still room for growth. Like Niang, he needs to work on his kick-slide — but recognizing blitzes is another area on which he needs to focus. Still fairly new to left tackle, he needs more time to see the different things that could be thrown at him.

This blitz was never going to be an easy pickup — but here, Brown looks totally out of place. The way the defenders stunt inside should alert him that he’s likely about to see something from the outside. If he stays more square — so he can see the backer cross his face — he would set himself up for more success. But now, he’ll be able to study the tape, seeing where he went wrong so that he can be better prepared the next time.

The bottom line

It is well-documented how important it was for Veach to invest in the offensive line. So far, the players he brought in are working out quite nicely. Offensive line coach Andy Heck has a successful track record — and even with five new starters, the line looks coached-up. The gelling that has already taken place indicates how good this group could actually be.

Now, there’s just one more preseason game to iron out the wrinkles before the Chiefs face a tough Cleveland Browns front seven in the season opener.

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