When the Kansas City Chiefs kickoff against the Cincinnati Bengals there are several positions that need to see a spark in order to prepare for the regular season.
Can the Chiefs burgeoning running-back-by-committee make an impact in the run game? With the offensive line top-six all but decided, this group of running backs needs to do something to set themselves apart. Expect to see both Spencer Ware and Kareem Hunt look to exploit gaps in the Cincinnati front in different ways. Ware with some power and Hunt with some balance. The main battle may be on display in the second half. Can C.J. Spiller overtake Charcandrick West? West’s experience in the offense may give him a leg up if he can show his former explosiveness.
Finding the Mike linebacker
Ramik Wilson showed improved instincts and play diagnosis in week one of the preseason. Can he continue that trend? Newcomers Marcus Eligwe and Kevin Pierre-Louis will have more opportunities to make a name for themselves against the Bengals, particularly in the run game. These linebackers need to show big play ability against the likes of rookie Joe Mixon.
Can the two experienced linebackers make a push for this roster? Josh Mauga has returned to Kansas City but in game 1 didn’t appear to be back to full health. His reaction time had diminished and he was unable to make an impact. If Mauga has shaken the rust off and can make plays he will earn a spot in the mix. Likewise, Terrance Smith, who had playing time in 2016, has not been able to take a step forward to this point. Can he show more coverage ability and maintain discipline against the run? If so he and Mauga may be competing for a 5th inside linebacker slot on this final 53-man roster.
Controlling the Airspace
The Chiefs secondary has been maligned this week in practice with multiple injuries. Can the top three backup corners find a successful rotation? For preseason week two, it’s likely the Philip Gaines and Steven Nelson will rotate at both of right cornerback position as well as the nickel. Terrance Mitchell may be able to play as well as D.J. White and Ashton Lampkin. All three can provide snaps at both those positions as well. The cornerback hierarchy could solidify in Cincinnati.
With Eric Berry hurting with a heel injury, can Eric Murray take a step forward? Murray endured one one major blown play to put in a solid overall game in week one. In order to be part of the plan for playing time in the regular season, Murray will need to recover and learn from his past mistakes. With the number of injuries in the secondary, the Chiefs could rotate a number of players in the backup safety roles. One of them could carve out a position on this team.
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- Breaking down Kareem Hunt’s versatility in run game September 21, 2017