On Thursday night, the Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Green Bay Packers 17-10 in 2022’s final preseason game.
Chiefs starting quarterback Patrick Mahomes spent just one moment on the football field, which he used to honor the late, great Len Dawson with the “choir huddle” the Chiefs made famous in the 1960s — the very first gesture in what sounds will be a season-long celebration of one of the franchise’s pillars. Backup Chad Henne came on for two series, in what was an annual reminder of just how fortunate Kansas City is to have an MVP starter like Mahomes.
Running back Ronald Jones had 43 rushing yards on eight carries, a final opportunity for Jones to make his case to remain on the roster — or drive his trade value up before the final cut to 53 players on Tuesday. Jones took advantage of his opportunities with the first-team offensive line, showing he is a capable NFL running back; it just may be that it will not be with the Chiefs. Jones has mostly been working behind Kansas City’s depth offensive lines this preseason, a disadvantage that was apparent on the fourth-and-1, third-quarter untouched stuff of running back Isiah Pacheco (offensive lineman Roderick Johnson missed the next drive). That noted, Pacheco still outgained Jones, 52-43.
Wide receiver Skyy Moore showed what he is capable of doing off the line of scrimmage as he streaked down the left sideline, but he was unable to bring in the long pass. Green Bay was called for defensive pass interference on the play. Wide receiver Daurice Fountain flashed on a couple of plays — and combined with his ability on special teams, likely locked up the sixth and final wide receiver spot. Top wideouts JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling did not play.
Matt Bushman’s wide-open 54-yard touchdown reception (along with a goal-line scoring reception from quarterback Shane Buechele), capped a strong preseason for the depth tight end, but it would be difficult to see Bushman making anything but the practice squad. He also left the game due to a shoulder injury.
Buechele had a solid night, finishing 11 of 17 for 166 yards and two touchdowns. There was interest from the Arizona Cardinals last year (which led to Buechele being moved to the active roster), so there is a slight question as to whether the Chiefs would make him available by waiving him again — especially after a night like Thursday.
Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo opted to play his first-team personnel throughout the first quarter. That led to something you never want to see in a preseason game: an injury to a starter. During the first quarter, cornerback Trent McDuffie left the game with a concussion. With Rashad Fenton (groin) already sidelined, that meant the top three cornerbacks would be L’Jarius Sneed and rookies Jaylen Watson and Joshua Williams.
Williams sometimes struggled, allowing a couple of catches, taking a third-and-long facemask penalty, dropping an interception and running into a kicker. Earlier in the week, Spagnuolo was asked if Williams — who spent much of camp as a starter after Fenton had begun on the physically-unable-to-perform (PUP) list — would be the next man up. The defensive coordinator was quick to mention Watson would also have an opportunity. We may have learned why on Thursday night — and we also learned that the sooner Fenton and McDuffie can get healthy, the better. Still, there is no need to panic (yet), as there are still 17 days until the Week 1 game against the Arizona Cardinals.
Beyond the cornerbacks, safety Bryan Cook had an interception as quarterback Jordan Love aired it out before the half — but what was more impressive is how Cook was patient to allow his teammates to set up after grabbing the ball. It didn’t lead to a score, but he showed good presence-of-mind on the play.
Two surefire bets to make the team — defensive linemen Derrick Nnadi and Tershawn Wharton — had strong nights in limited reps. Meanwhile, linebacker Darius Harris likely solidified his roster spot with his play. Wharton, defensive end Joshua Kaindoh and cornerback Dicaprio Bootle each had a sack. Safety Deon Bush recorded his second massive hit in as many weeks, but showed some vulnerability on defense — specifically on Tyler Goodson’s 24-yard touchdown run. It is worth noting that another roster hopeful, linebacker Jermaine Carter, was pushed around on the same play.
After making kicks of 60, 65 and 71 in pregame, placekicker kicker Harrison Butker was 1-1, making a 44-yard field goal.
And with that, the preseason is over. As is always the case after the final preseason game, the regular season can’t come soon enough.