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10 winners and 4 losers from the Chiefs’ preseason opener

Here’s who stood out in Kansas City’s opening game of the preseason.

Kansas City Chiefs v New Orleans Saints Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Kansas City Chiefs football is back. That's the biggest takeaway from the New Orleans Saints' 26-24 win on Sunday afternoon.

Head coach Andy Reid didn't let the first-team offense do too much in the preseason opener, which opened the door for a number of others to make their mark. Here are a few names that stood out in a meaningless game that could mean a whole lot to some young players:


NFL: Kansas City Chiefs Training Camp Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Wide receiver Richie James: On one drive in the second quarter, James caught two of three passes, including a 43-yarder where he adjusted to an underthrown pass into tight coverage. Then, he caught a wide-open touchdown, where the defenders were unable to stay with him after a pick route. There shouldn't be many left who are sleeping on James, and after that drive on Sunday, everyone should be aware of his value to this offense.

Cornerbacks Kahlef Hailassie and Ekow Boye-Doe: Two 2023 tryout signees showed they belong on the NFL field. Hailassie and Boye-Doe had four tackles each and competed in coverage all afternoon. Hailassie added a pass defensed and a spectacular interception. Both of these guys face long odds when it comes to the 53-man roster but look like excellent candidates for the practice squad.

Wide receiver Justyn Ross: Everyone's favorite comeback story continued against the Saints. Ross caught two passes on the day, including a 15-yard touchdown catch that left everyone smiling. Ross was also in on punt coverage, which bodes well for his chances of making the roster.

Defensive tackle Danny Shelton: The newly-slimmed Shelton was active in the middle of the defense, coming free to sack Jameis Winston late in the first half. Nobody will mistake him for Chris Jones anytime soon, but if he keeps making plays in the preseason — and lining up as a fullback in camp, there just might be a job for him this year.

Linebacker Drue Tranquill: The Chiefs' newest veteran linebacker notched five tackles and a sack in his debut. He was all around the line of scrimmage, showing off his mastery of the defense in the first half of this contest.

Wide receiver Nikko Remigio: Just as we all predicted, Remigio led all Chiefs in receptions and yards against the Saints. His 71 yards were the most of any receiver on either side, and he was active on punt and kick returns. Remigio is making his case to stick around.

Quarterback Shane Buechele: It didn't start pretty — Buechele had an interception on his second attempt — but he came back to lead two second-half touchdown drives to bring this team back. He pulled a Patrick Mahomes-like escape on the score to Kekoa Crawford, sending the Chiefs' sideline into a frenzy. There probably isn't a quarterback competition on this team, or is there?

Wide receiver Rashee Rice and defensive back Chamarri Conner: This year's draft class isn't likely to be as impactful as the 2022 group. That is... unless these two players hit in a big way. Rice had three catches for 30 yards in his debut, and Conner logged a sack and a pass defensed. It was a really good start for both.

Honorable mention: Cornell Powell, who caught all three of his targets for 42 yards.


NFL: Preseason-Kansas City Chiefs at New Orleans Saints Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Punter Tommy Townsend: The All-Pro didn't have his best day. Two of his first three kicks went for under 36 yards and gave the Saints a short field. He'll have a few more weeks to get into midseason form.

Tight end Matt Bushman: A trendy pick in Chiefs media, Bushman had a disappointing afternoon in New Orleans. He wasn't able to bring in either of his two targets. He'll likely get more opportunities to prove himself this preseason.

Quarterback Chris Oladokun: He had some good plays, including a game-long 30-yard run. But, situationally, it wasn't really pretty. With the clock winding down, he was unable to get the first down the Chiefs needed to close this one out. His incomplete pass and subsequent interception gave the Saints the ball in field goal range with plenty of time to get the win.

The first-team defense: The Saints faced little resistance when driving down the field to start this game before either team had a chance to rest their starters. Old nemesis Derek Carr led a 12-play, 80-yard drive to open this game. He went 6 of 8 with a touchdown before Jameis Winston took over. The result was more of the same, as Winston quickly capitalized on a short field with a pair of passes to A.T. Perry. It's nothing to be alarmed at, given the vanilla coverages they played with no real game plan for Preseason Game 1. But that didn't make it any more fun to watch.

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