While the outcome and final stats of preseason games don't actually matter, it was nice to see the Kansas City Chiefs come out and dominate the Arizona Cardinals on Saturday night. From the starters to the fourth string, the Kansas City offense cruised to over 500 yards, averaging 8.7 per play. The defense played better, holding the Cardinals to 286 yards and a single touchdown. We saw contributions from rookies, quarterbacks and receivers up and down the roster.
Here are a few who stood out and gave the Chiefs evaluators something to think about as we approach the end of the preseason and roster cutdowns:
All four quarterbacks: Patrick Mahomes overcame some early drops on the first two series and completed seven straight passes on a 10-play, 92-yard drive to get the Chiefs on the board early. Shane Buechele was flawless, completing all 10 passes and running for a touchdown. Blaine Gabbert showed off his arm on some big plays, racking up 120 yards on just seven completions and two touchdowns. Even Chris Oladokun was 4 of 5 to close this one out. Beyond the stats, it was encouraging to see each quarterback enjoy good pass protection and complete passes to a total of 17 different receivers. This was a passing game clinic by the Chiefs' offense.
Wide receiver Rashee Rice: It didn't start great for the rookie, as he dropped a second-down pass on the opening drive as the offense stalled. But he'd go on to catch all eight of his other targets for a game-high 96 yards. Rice showed off his route running and yards-after-the-catch ability on a 38-yard catch-and-run, and he made some tough catches in traffic as the Chiefs used him all over the field.
Wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette: The longest offensive play of the night was a 44-yard bomb from Gabbert to Smith-Marsette early in the second half. He would finish the drive four plays later by breaking a tackle and scoring from 15 yards out. He nearly had another massive play, but his 45-yard scramble-drill catch was called back for a penalty in the fourth quarter. He continued to fight through coverage and make plays with Oladokun on the final scoring drive of the day. It's challenging to find a roster spot for Smith-Marsette, but he's certainly making his case.
Defensive back Chamarri Conner: The rookie defensive back was all over the field on Saturday night, with sound tackling, quick blitzing and a nose for the football. He's shown notable improvement as the preseason has gone along. It looks like the Chiefs may have hit on another mid-round corner with the ability to play a number of different roles for Steve Spagnuolo's defense.
Linebacker Drue Tranquill: If you're just watching the box score, you may miss what was another encouraging performance by the Chiefs' newest linebacker. Tranquill moves like a safety when blitzing and covering and is carving out a really nice role in this defense.
Running back Deneric Prince: Prince didn't have a bad game. He did score a touchdown and had some promising runs. But he may have some competition from La'Mical Perine, who arguably outplayed him for the second straight week. He may also have competition for the top kick returner job, as Richie James was back there for the opening kick.
Cornerback Dicaprio Bootle: The Chiefs roster is pretty well stocked with young defensive backs, so guys like Bootle have to do what they can to get noticed in the preseason. In St. Joe, he was noticed for being the guy involved in nearly every scuffle. Against Arizona, Bootle was noticed for having multiple holding penalties on one drive that led to the only touchdown for the Cardinals.
Running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire: Edwards-Helaire again got the starter reps with Isiah Pacheco still on the sidelines, but his production left something to be desired. Edwards-Helaire averaged just 2.5 yards on his four carries. His holding penalty on the second drive negated a nice gain by Richie James and led to a punt. Then a screen pass was blown up for a 4-yard loss. The lone highlight of the day was his 12-yard reception, but otherwise, it was a frustrating night for a guy trying to keep his roster spot.