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Under the Radar: A young defensive end showed promise

Each week, our Maurice Elston will bring an ‘under-the-radar’ Chiefs performance from the previous game to light.

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The Kansas City Chiefs opened their season with a 21-20 loss to the Detroit Lions. While there were some commendable plays on both sides of the field, the Chiefs’ overall performance left much to be desired.

In any game — whether it results in a win, loss or draw — there are players who quietly excel without garnering the attention. These players make crucial contributions that often go unnoticed because they don’t involve flashy, game-changing moments. These players fly under the radar. One such player who deserves recognition for the Week 1 game is rookie defensive end Felix Anudike-Uzomah.

An under-the-radar performance

Anudike-Uzomah, the Chiefs’ first-round draft pick, had a slow start to training camp due to injury. However, as the preseason progressed, he began to demonstrate the potential he showed when Kansas City scouted him at Kansas State.

As the season opener approached, there was uncertainty surrounding Anudike-Uzomah’s playing time and his role with the team. All eyes were on the defensive line, especially in the absence of the All-Pro defensive tackle Chris Jones.

In his professional debut, Anudike-Uzomah saw limited action, logging a total of 19 snaps. Despite his restricted playing time, he made a significant impact and showcased the potential to earn more opportunities in the future. Of those 19 snaps, five were during running plays and 14 during passing plays. During the passing plays, Anudike-Uzomah rushed the passer on 13 occasions and dropped into coverage once. His performance included two pressures, which ranked as the second-highest on the team, along with two quarterback hits and two tackles — all against a formidable Lions’ offensive line.

The bottom line

Amidst a game that left fans searching for reasons to cheer, Anudike-Uzomah’s performance stands out as a source of optimism. He delivered a solid performance in his limited role during the first week of the season.

While most edge rushers grab attention by accumulating sacks, Anudike-Uzomah demonstrated his strength and explosiveness in his rushes against the Lions. He consistently disrupted quarterback Jared Goff, even though he didn’t record a sack.

This promising Week 1 performance sets the stage for his continued growth. Expect to see his snap count increase as the season unfolds — and those pressures could soon turn into sacks. Keep an eye on the dynamic duo of second-year player George Karlaftis and Anudike-Uzomah; it’s a combination worth watching this season.

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