On Thursday, the Kansas City Chiefs held their final practice of training camp of 2022. On Saturday, they will host the Washington Commanders at Arrowhead Stadium in the second of three preseason games. As training camp draws to a close, let’s take another look at the trend of the Kansas City players.
George Karlaftis: His preseason debut featured all the positives we can expect from the team’s first-round defensive end. He won reps the way he wins: with power and determination, and showed growth in his hand wrestling skills. Now we should see him get more first-team reps against a better offensive line. If his abilities continue to translate, maybe we can officially raise our expectations for the rookie.
Isias Pacheco: One rookie who doesn’t need expectations to go higher is Kansas City’s new No. 2 running back. Pacheco has clearly endeared himself to both the coaches and the fans. How big of a role can he play in the Chiefs’ offense? With extended action against Washington, maybe Pacheco can get out there and show off his speed, giving the fans something to look forward to. Really go mad.
justin watson: Everyone seems to agree that Watson has earned the No. 5 spot in the wide receiver ranks, and that he has the opportunity to contribute both on special teams and on offense. He had a tremendous offseason, and was one of the stars of the first preseason game. Now – with Juju Smith-Schuster probably out of the Washington game and Mecole Hardman sick – even more snapshots will be available for Watson to show off his skill.
Other trends in the right direction: wide receiver Daurice Fountain, tight ends Jody Fortson and Noah Gray, cornerbacks Jaylen Watson and Rashad Fenton, safety Justin Reid and defensive end Frank Clark.
Darian Kinnard: Perhaps the draft day comparisons to Trey Smith were unfair. If we’re being honest, it’s pretty rare for a Day 3 rookie to step in and become a starter on the offensive line before a team is out of camp. It’s even more rare for it to happen at offensive tackle, the position Kinnard currently finds himself in with the third team. Geron Christian appears to be the new swing tackle, so Kinnard will likely start this season as a backup. He should get a lot of snaps against the Commanders, hopefully with a little more success than last week with the backup offensive line.
Joshua Kaindoh: For much of the offseason, we wondered if Kaindoh could be part of the solution at defensive end. Why else would the Chiefs be so much less aggressive than we thought they should be? Perhaps in his sophomore campaign, Kaindoh’s raw physical tools would be more refined. But unfortunately, he didn’t shine at St. Joseph or in the first preseason game. He still should get another chance or two, but hope of Kaindoh being a collaborator might be fading. Watch to see if he is able to turn it around this week.
Ron Jones: previous Tampa Bay Buccaneers The broker was signed with great expectations. Some thought that he could at least be the protagonist of the first attempts, with the possibility of making a difference. Some even thought he would push Clyde Edwards-Helaire to take the starting job. But in training camp, Jones found himself on the third team behind Edwards-Helaire, Pacheco and veteran Jerick McKinnon. Jones now competes with Derrick Gore for the last running back spot, and even that is assuming the team keeps four on the final roster. Worse yet for Jones, Gore has been working as an emergency long snapper, proving that the value of special teams could figure into the running back roster calculation. There may be nothing left for Jones to do to make this list, but this weekend, he’s going to try at least one more time.
Other trends in the wrong direction: offensive tackle Roderick Johnson, running backs Derrick Gore and Tayon Fleet-Davis, wide receivers Josh Gordon and Cornell Powell, tight end Jordan Franks and linebacker Jermaine Carter Jr.
Value Pick (Sleeper): Jerrion Ealy
Team skill and position battles seem to be ending early; Both the running back and wide receiver rooms seem to be pretty crowded with what appear to be roster lockouts. But this weekend, Ealy is a player who could still make a name for himself in any group; he has a unique skill set and tremendous ability for special teams. While he didn’t stand out much in camp, finding a way to make some plays against Washington could give Ealy a chance to sneak in the back of the roster, or make the practice squad this season.