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Chiefs-Cardinals rapid reaction: Better vibes from a win in Arizona

Patrick Mahomes found Justin Watson for a touchdown as the Chiefs looked much better than they did last week.

Kansas City Chiefs v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

In their second preseason game, the Kansas City Chiefs knocked off the Arizona Cardinals 38-10. The club now has a day off on Sunday before resuming the preseason in Kansas City, with the next practice scheduled for Monday.

Let’s get to the game reaction:

The Chiefs had to like the improved play from the top teams on both sides of the ball.

My first takeaway from last week's game was just how poor Kansas City's first-team offense and first-team defense played against the New Orleans Saints.

This time around, head coach Andy Reid gave the offense three series. That was a good thing, since it took until the third drive for quarterback Patrick Mahomes and company to get rolling.

Starting at the Chiefs' own 8-yard line, Mahomes connected with six different pass-catchers, including Justyn Ross. Ross completely shook his defender en route to a 12-yard gain down the sideline. Wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling picked up 21 yards on the next play, and Justin Watson scored an 18-yard touchdown. The offensive line with new-look offensive tackles Donovan Smith and Jawaan Taylor also had a solid outing, giving the quarterback plenty of time to work.

Mahomes came out after the touchdown, with Shane Buechele taking over with the top-team skill-position players. Interestingly enough, the offense did not skip a beat, scoring a touchdown on a second consecutive drive. The touchdown came on an impressive 15-yard scramble by Buechele, a play current backup Blaine Gabbert maybe would not have been able to make. Is a QB2 battle suddenly brewing?

Buechele finished 10 of 10 for 120 yards and a rushing touchdown. Gabbert went 7 of 8 for 120 yards and two touchdowns.

On the defensive side of the football, the first-team Chiefs looked much improved from last week's showing against the Saints, with good coverage and sound tackling — in other words, the stuff we didn't see against Derek Carr and Jameis Winston. Defensive tackle Chris Jones is clearly missed up front, but there were positive signs from the second and third levels. Linebacker Willie Gay Jr.'s play to break through blockers and stop a dangerous screen kept the Cardinals scoreless against the first-team defense.

If you're playing against quarterback Colt McCoy in a preseason game, your defense needs to force four punts. Steve Spagnuolo got what he needed.

Potential young contributors see time with the first team.

It was noticeable that Reid and the Chiefs wanted to see more of what some of their young players could do with top-team reps. On defense, rookie sixth-round defensive tackle Keondre Coburn lined up next to Derrick Nnadi early in the game — and fourth-round safety Chamarri Conner worked as the third safety next to Bryan Cook and Justin Reid. Conner leaped up to knock down a pass near the line of scrimmage — and then covered well in the end zone. Working with the second team, rookie first-round defensive end Felix Anudike-Uzomah also showed some promising signs.

On offense, Ross and rookie second-rounder Rashee Rice were in the mix with Mahomes and stayed on the field with other fellow first-teamers once Buechele entered the game. Rice may have been the most impressive Chief on the field Saturday night, leading the team with eight catches and 96 yards.

After Buechele dished it to him on a slant, Rice juked a defender, taking it another 15 yards after first contact. Arrowhead Pride Podcast Network contributor Brandon Kiley noted that Rice looks like a healthy Sammy Watkins. I agree.

It appears Deneric Prince has been demoted; will he make the 53-man roster?

For the second straight preseason game, Clyde Edwards-Helaire was the first Chiefs running back to touch the football. Given that starter Isiah Pacheco is still working his way back from his offseason surgeries, that was no surprise.

What was a slight surprise was the next running back in the game: La'Mical Perine. We had noticed that Perine had been getting second-team snaps in practice this week — and that carried over to the preseason action. What may be more telling in Prince's fall is special teams coordinator Dave Toub sending Richie James out for the game's initial kickoffs.

Both James and Ihmir Smith-Marsette saw return opportunities before Prince first appeared in the game as a kick returner at the end of the second quarter. It’s worth noting Smith-Marsette also had an outstanding night on offense, catching four passes for 92 yards and a score.

In the early weeks of training camp, Prince was the darling of St. Joseph — especially for the upside he showed in the passing game. It just did not carry over to the games.

I once figured Prince, who had a touchdown on Saturday night, as an absolute lock for the 53-man roster. But with saw last week at practice — and now in the second preseason game — I’m not sure that is the case anymore.

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