Lucas Niang, OT
At one point earlier this offseason, it seemed probable Lucas Niang would be one of Kansas City’s two starting offensive tackles heading into the 2023 season. But the team made a pair of signings that no longer make that the case.
With Donovan Smith and Jawaan Taylor likely to be the Chiefs’ top two OTs, Niang seems destined for a reserve role, assuming that he’s still with Kansas City when the regular season arrives. It might be a better move by the Chiefs to shop Niang to see if they can acquire a draft pick or two in exchange for the 24-year-old.
Niang has played only 19 games over his first three years in the NFL and made nine starts, all during the 2021 season. He could eventually have a solid career, if given an opportunity to prove that he should be a starter somewhere.
That’s not going to happen in Kansas City to open the season, and the team has some depth to fall back on even if Niang is no longer in the fold. It’s not a necessity for the Chiefs to trade him, but it’s something for them to consider.
Tight end Travis Kelce is featured in a new spot for Bud Light, and like Mahomes, he never actually promotes the beer or even mentions it by name.
The spot is called “Backyard Grunts with Travis Kelce,” and it pokes fun at the sounds people of a certain age make when they ease back into a chair or get out of one.
Bud Light is trying to turn around its fortunes as it has seen sales plunge after what Yahoo Finance called the “fateful Dylan Mulvaney promotion.”
It seems the beermaker is hoping the presence of a Super Bowl champion will improve those lagging sales.
New Bud Light commercial featuring Travis Kelce pic.twitter.com/20bSFx8pHX— Farzin Vousoughian (@Farzin21) July 2, 2023
32 - Kansas City Chiefs
Chiefs head coach Andy Reid banks on the mobility and arm of the 32-year-old Smith — who was named Comeback Player of the Year after re-emerging as a capable starter in Seattle last season — to push Kansas City on a Super Bowl run.
Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio reported “the league blames the players for not wearing the right shoes.” Florio noted some Eagles players changed their cleats in the middle of the game but that “it didn’t seem to matter.”
“The Sodfather” became a minor character nobody expected to emerge from the Chiefs’ 38-35 victory over the Eagles.
George Toma is the groundskeeper who has advised the NFL on the Super Bowl turf since the event’s inception. It didn’t take long for fans to become very familiar with the 94-year-old as players increasingly lost their footing.
Speaking to ESPN’s Josh Weinfuss weeks later, Toma said the blame laid squarely with NFL field director Ed Mangan.
The playing surface at State Farm Stadium can be rolled in and out of the venue. Toma contended Mangan didn’t let the field dry enough outside after it was last watered on the Wednesday before the Super Bowl.
He also argued Mangan “sanded it two weeks too late.”
“He had only one sanding,” Toma said.” He should have had two or three sandings, but he didn’t do s—t. And that was it. And not only that, he didn’t take care of it. He wouldn’t listen to anybody.”
The NFL said the field ultimately passed inspection and was deemed good enough to play on.
2023 NFL OFFENSIVE LINE RANKINGS: EAGLES LEAD THE WAY, A HEALTHY COWBOYS UNIT CLIMBS INTO TOP 10
• Eagles hold on to the top spot from end-of-season rankings: While the team lost one starter, 2022 draft pick Cam Jurgens is set to fill in.
• Browns, Chiefs round out the top three: Cleveland moves up four spots from the end-of-season rankings, while Kansas City jumps one place.
• A healthy Cowboys line comes in at No. 6: Injuries decimated the unit in 2022, but it’s a talented group on paper.
Here’s a look at what Farrar had to say about Bolton’s 2022 campaign:
The Chiefs selected Bolton in the second round of the 2021 draft out of Missouri, and he became one of many young defenders who showed up at exactly the right time for Kansas City’s Super Bowl run. Last season, Bolton had two sacks, five quarterback hits, five quarterback hurries, 142 solo tackles, 61 stops, and he allowed 76 catches on 83 targets for 673 yards, 457 yards after the catch, one touchdown, two interceptions, one pass breakup, and an opponent passer rating of 94.4.
Of course, Bolton’s most notable play of the 2022 season was the forced fumble, fumble recovery, and fumble return touchdown he scored in Super Bowl LVII. That tied the game early in the second quarter, and it was an obvious difference-maker in the game.
Around the NFL
Winning a postseason game was once a mirage for the Arizona Cardinals.
For 50 consecutive seasons the franchise went without any playoff success to generate one of the more notorious streaks in sports. That was until one fateful season in 1998 when the Cardinals went on the road to upset the Dallas Cowboys, ending what remains as the longest playoff win drought in NFL history.
The man who orchestrated that memorable victory, former Cardinals head coach Vincent Tobin, died Monday morning, the team announced. He was 79.
“Our deepest condolences go out to everyone who knew and loved Vince Tobin, and in particular his wife Kathy and their family,” Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill said in a statement. “As head coach of the Cardinals, his steady leadership was a constant and a big part of the success the team enjoyed during his tenure. His football legacy with us is highlighted by the thrilling 1998 season, return to the postseason, and upset playoff win at Dallas. He will also be remembered for his instrumental role in key decisions like drafting Jake Plummer and Pat Tillman.
“More than that, he was a consummate family man and always a class act who positively impacted everyone he encountered.”
AFC West: Will Sean Payton Make Huge Difference for Broncos?
Does everyone remember how the AFC West was being discussed at this same point last year?
The battle for division supremacy between the Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers, Las Vegas Raiders and Denver Broncos should have been a murderer’s row after each organization made headline-stealing moves during the offseason.
Instead, the Chiefs rather easily claimed a seventh straight division crown on their way to another Super Bowl victory. However, potential for regression exists after a long postseason run, JuJu Smith-Schuster’s departure and two new starting offensive tackles.
The Broncos, meanwhile, have the most ground the gain after finishing 5-12. The trade for Russell Wilson looks like the wort in NFL history based on short-term returns. Although, Sean Payton’s acquisition gives the franchise a much-needed boost after Nathaniel Hackett clearly looked out of place as a head coach.
Payton’s primary objective is getting the most out of Wilson after his terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad season. The potential Hall of Fame head coach is experienced enough to build around the veteran’s skill set, implement specific run-pass options and concentrate on the vertical passing game.
The Broncos have significant talent at the skill positions for Wilson to regain form when targeting the likes of Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton, Tim Patrick and this year’s top draft selection, Marvin Mims Jr.
Kansas City is rightly the AFC West favorites until they’re knocked off the mountaintop. The Chargers are the closest to doing so. The Raiders are still in a transitory phase. But the biggest leap among this group should come from the Broncos after being stabilized by Payton.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
Karlaftis in Year 2
I thought Karlaftis had an incredibly strong rookie season. I’ve been going back and reviewing his film from last year, and there was clear growth in the back half of the season. Karlaftis could blend more counters in addition to his bullrush and even flashed some ability to win around the corner. Considering Karlaftis was asked to play high-leverage snaps on a Super Bowl contender as a rookie, he hit every mark the Chiefs needed.
The concern about Karlaftis since he was drafted was his ceiling. I was extremely high on Karlaftis coming into that draft, but even I’d admit I wonder what heights he can reach as a player. I do believe there’s plenty of growth in his game. As he learns to blend inside counters and pull moves into his game, the already strong foundation of his burst and power will pop more.
Still, can Karlaftis blend enough speed and flexibility in his game to round out his profile as a pass rusher? Or, will he be stuck as a quality defensive end, but one who can’t succeed against any matchup he faces?