The Kansas City Chiefs head back to Arrowhead on Friday night to take on the San Francisco 49ers. There are a bunch of players that will be working to catch the coaches attention all across the roster. The wide receivers and cornerbacks are a couple of the most interesting preseason roster battles.
On offense, the third tight end is a position to watch on Friday night. Right now it’s more likely that Travis Kelce won’t play. That means that Demetrius Harris will get first string reps. Throughout training camp Harris has looked the part of the Chiefs second tight end. Gavin Escobar is listed as the third tight end on the depth chart right now. However, Ross Travis has been getting snaps with the third string throughout camp as well. The Chiefs will probably keep four tight ends which could mean both make the team. The real wildcard is if Orson Charles can show any value as a tight end and back up H-Back.
Be sure to watch the kick returners on Friday night as it is still an open competition who will open the season as either punt or kick returner.
On defense the biggest question is who will be the inside linebacker next to Derrick Johnson. The end of year starter from 2016 is Ramik Wilson, but he isn’t guaranteed to be the starter this season. The Chiefs have last years original starter in Justin March-Lillard, then drafted Ukeme Eligwe this year in the fifth round, traded Pro-Bowler DJ Alexander for Kevin Pierre-Louis, and brought back 2015’s starter in Josh Mauga.
March-Lillard ended the regular season as a special teams guy after being put on IR earlier in the season. Wilson took on the starters role and had a lot of tackles. The issue was they were a lot further down the field than you’d like. Eligwe has shown a lot of promise in camp. He’s had several interceptions of Patrick Mahomes. He’s also already drawn rave reviews from Dave Toub for his special teams play. Pierre-Louis has been an outside linebacker in a 4-3 defense in Seattle but seems to be in a great place as an ILB in the Chiefs defense. Pierre-Louis has speed to burn and really looks like he could take over DJ’s role in the future. Josh Mauga has been injured throughout different parts of camp and more than likely won’t be on the final roster.
There are many more intriguing battles to watch as well. In the coming weeks we will take a deeper look across the roster to help you know the players to watch. Unlike years past the Chiefs have a young QB people will be wanting to see late in the game on Friday. It will be fun to watch Mahomes take the field at Arrowhead for the first time, but the players around him will be playing for their NFL lives.
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