We are getting closer to the regular season of the NFL; the next step is week 2 of preseason, when the Kansas City Chiefs will host the Washington Commanders at Arrowhead Stadium for a 3 p.m. Arrowhead Time kick-off on Saturday.
The team wrapped up training camp Thursday, leaving the Western Missouri State University campus in St. Joseph, Missouri, to begin acclimating to a weekly schedule more like what they will experience in the regular season.
They may play without some of the players who suffered minor injuries this week in camp: Wide receiver Mecole Hardman (groin) and Chris Jones (back) aren’t guaranteed to take the field, while Head coach Andy Reid shared Thursday that wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuster (knee) will not play.
There is a lot to look for either way; here are five things to watch:
1. An extended look at the headlines
It’s only the second preseason with three games instead of four, so we only have a year to assess how Coach Reid will handle playing time.
In Week 2 of the 2021 preseason, the Chiefs’ starting offense stayed on the field for the first three possessions of the game, 32 plays. He carried them until the middle of the second quarter. The starting offensive line he played until halftime with 41 moves. The first-team defense had an equally long leash.
This will be the highest-volume exhibition game for the first-team players, pushing them physically and mentally after three weeks of (almost) daily practice. After this contest, they’ll get the rest they need, and are used to getting after a game, instead of going back to constant, full-contact work.
As much as we can glean from last week, there should be a lot more to learn about the team in this game.
2. Rise in pass fever last week
One of the biggest concerns of Chiefs fans this offseason has been pass rush. The unit went to great lengths to make a great first impression in Week 1 of preseason.
Rookie defensive end George Karlaftis led the team in rushing with 4-of-14 rushing attempts, by professional soccer focus. One became a sack and another was recorded as a quarterback hit. Defensive tackle Tershawn Wharton was the only other player with multiple pressures, winning three, one of them being a quarterback hit.
In the fourth quarter, defensive end Malik Herring and defensive tackle Taylor Stallworth combined to take down the quarterback by collapsing the pocket on him.
The best part is that all of those players are either locks or contenders for the 53-man roster. It will be important to see him continue in Week 2 against a more formidable offensive line unit in Washington.
3. Skyy Moore and Isiah Pacheco
We saw rookie running back Isiah Pacheco bunt twice on last week’s opening drive, plus another possession behind the starting offensive line. We didn’t see Skyy Moore and quarterback Patrick Mahomes on the field together, but that should change with the possible absences of Smith-Schuster (knee) and Hardman (groin).
Regardless, Mahomes is likely to get an extended look, which should give us more opportunities to see each of these exciting rookies in action with the starting offense.
Watch to see if Pacheco can break loose in a race. His strengths in ball transportation come through once he gets past the line of scrimmage and into the second and third levels, but he couldn’t get past the first level on any of his runs in the last game.
Moore impressed with tough catches up the middle and toe-shuffling skills amid his production of three catches for 27 yards on three targets. It would be nice to see those same highlights with Mahomes’ passes.
4. The battle of depth at defensive tackle
Most of the 53-man roster is coming into focus, but I think the most intriguing positional battle left is depth at defensive tackle.
You can secure the fact that the interior defensive line will feature Chris Jones, Derrick Nnadi and Tershawn Wharton, but there are three other strong contenders for a roster spot at the position: Khalen Saunders, Taylor Stallworth and recently signed Danny Shelton. .
The team definitely won’t stick with all six. They could keep five, but there’s a chance they’ll only keep four as well. With Jones at defensive end last season, He only kept four inside players. The year before, they kept only four with Jones included; in 2019, they kept five.
Every play for those contending players will be vital. Saunders and Stallworth made plays last week, while Shelton is getting his first chance to prove that his overwhelming presence is worth a spot in the regular rotation.
Look for them once the headlines start to die down.
5. A tougher test for the pass defense
You may laugh when you see the words “toughest test” accompanied by a picture of quarterback Carson Wentz, but it’s not just him.
Backup quarterback Taylor Heinicke has started plenty of games in recent years, and both have the gunslinger mentality to test defensive backs at the middle and deep levels of the field.
Coach Ron Rivera told reporters on Thursday that ideally he would want the starters to play the entire first half – but mentioned that injuries may be a factor in that plan. the athletic one ben standing has suggested it’s the offensive line hit that might get Wentz out early, but Heinicke would relieve him.
Even with a quarterback change, Washington’s starting receivers — Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel, rookie Jahan Dotson and Dyami Brown — should be a much tougher challenge than the Chiefs’ defensive backfield faced last week. .