The Kansas City Chiefs’ 17-10 victory over the Green Bay Packers on Thursday night began with a touching tribute to the late, great Len Dawson. Then most of the key starters on offense got the night off — while backups found some success in their final showcase before roster decisions are decided and many bags are packed.
Here are a few who stood out as the 2022 preseason came to an end.
Note: Applying the labels “winners” and “losers” is not intended to be a judgment on the talent or character of any of these players. It’s just a simple way to grade their performance in a single game. No disrespect is intended.
Shane Buechele: There isn’t a backup quarterback competition in Kansas City — but if there were, Buechele’s performance on Thursday certainly would have made it interesting. He led all quarterbacks with 166 passing yards, a pair of touchdown drives and a passer rating of 135.9. He’s shown the ability to scramble and has capitalized on opportunities to hit open receivers. If they think he’ll clear waivers, the Chiefs will be happy to sign him to the practice squad, Otherwise, they might just have to carry a third passer on Tuesday’s initial 53-man roster.
Ronald Jones: It’s been a disappointing offseason for the guy who was supposed to help transform the team’s running game. But in two preseason games, Jones just hadn’t found any success with the Chiefs. But in the second drive against the Packers, Jones took the first handoff and broke off a punishing eight-yard run. He’d end the game behind rookie Isiah Pacheco in total yards and carries, but Thursday was clearly his best outing. It was the final audition he needed to have a chance at making the roster in Kansas City — or somewhere else.
Matt Bushman: For the second straight preseason game, a tight end scored twice. This time, it was Bushman who took advantage of each of his three targets to amass 73 yards, leading the team. His 54-yard catch and run was one of the most explosive plays of the entire preseason. Unfortunately for Bushman, his night ended with a fractured clavicle — but the BYU product may have a future in the league.
Darius Harris: Already a coaches’ favorite, Harris exploded off the screen against Green Bay, nearly stopping a Packers drive singlehandedly. His three stops on that series were among the game’s defensive highlights — and he appeared to be keeping score by counting the plays on his fingers for all to see. Harris has the trust of the coaching staff as a backup MIKE linebacker and core special teams player. Go ahead and write Harris’s name on your 53-man roster — in ink.
Bryan Cook: In some ways, Cook has been a forgotten man in Kansas City’s rookie class. As the team’s third safety, the second-round pick has quietly carved out his role as a key special teamer — and an enforcer. Even before he swooped in for Thursday’s only interception, Cook was noticeable both in coverage and as a sure tackler. For him, the arrow is clearly pointing up.
Joshua Williams: The fourth-round rookie cornerback has been gradually coming down from the highs of training camp. While he has all of the physical tools, it appears that it might take a while for him to put it all together. Often in the right position but unable to make the play, Williams had a dropped interception, some inconsistent coverage and a few missed tackles during preseason games. He’ll be counted upon at some point this season — but given Jaylen Watson’s play, Williams might just be the third rookie cornerback in line. That might be OK for a big, talented kid from a small school.
Jermaine Carter: Brought in as a veteran who started all of last season, Carter picked jersey No. 53 — and in retrospect, it fits him well. He’s not had the strongest preseason, looking a step slower than the other linebackers on the field. Against Green Bay, it was Carter’s whiff that allowed Tyler Goodson to get free into the open field, running right through the middle of the Kansas City defense to score. In the preseason, Carter has been working with the second and third teams, playing late in the games. It’s a pretty clear sign that his stint with the team might be nearing the end — before it really even began.
Tayon Fleet-Davis: On a day where the other Chiefs running backs finally found some room to operate, Fleet-Davis ended the day with minus three yards rushing — and caught only one of three targets. He also fumbled, but was at least able to recover the ball. Derrick Gore’s injury might have left an opening on the practice squad, but it’s not clear that Fleet-Davis has made his case to stay.