Unfortunately, preseason football has never offered much in terms of insight and Friday night's exhibition game between Kansas City and Tampa Bay will be no exception. On Saturday morning, Chiefs fans will be no closer to knowing if the 2010 AFC West Championship was a fluke or is on the verge of a sequel. But this game may offer more in terms of player development than any in recent history.
Nobody including fans, media, or even coaches has seen any of these players go full speed more than a handful of times since last January. And until Coach Haley signals, "all the way live" (phrase signaling full speed/hit), nobody really has any idea how this team will rebound from their embarrassing ending to an otherwise promising 2010 season.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be a formidable measuring stick for no other reason than their resemblance of the Chiefs themselves. Although the Bucs barely missed the playoffs last season, this is a team on the rise. Head Coach Raheem Morris has an emerging and feisty offense highlighted by Grandview native, Quarterback Josh Freeman. The Bucs also showcase a mentally tough defense that will unveil a potential future star in their second round pick, defensive lineman Da'Quan Bowers
But it's the new faces on the Chiefs depth chart that will benefit the most from Friday night.
Proven veterans and young players like Matt Cassel, Eric Berry, the Brandon's (Carr and Flowers) and Jamaal Charles will hit the field just long enough to shake the rust off. But the undercard for Friday's main event, will be the meat of the evening.
The biggest story of Friday Night Lights is sure to be the battle between Chiefs back-up quarterbacks, Ricky Stanzi and journeyman Tyler Palko.
The experience factor only slightly benefits Palko. But given that Stanzi has just over a week's worth of practice, it could make all the difference in this first exhibition game.
It's no surprise that Stanzi has been up and down in his first NFL training camp. But the ups have been impressive. If Stanzi can shake of the mental barnacles of camp, and just play football, it could be a glimpse of the future.
Palko on the other hand looks to be a guy on a mission. I have my reservations that the Chiefs will let Palko start the season as Cassel's backup. But if a veteran quarterback is brought into camp it will be due to Palko's struggles the next two preseason games.
On August 30th, the first NFL roster cuts must be handed into the league office. That means the Chiefs must get down to 70 players. And honestly, they could probably make those cuts today. But there are a few guys that might fall into that cut line that could gain an extra week of work in Kansas City. And further, a couple of them might just make a roster impact.
Three in particular looking to make an impression at the expense of Tampa Bay include linebacker Micah Johnson and offensive lineman, David Mims, and Mike Ingersoll.
In the case of Johnson and Ingersoll, both have a ton of ground to make up if they want to stick around. They both have shown flashes worthy of a roster spot or at least the practice squad.
Mims though might be have the best chance to land a roster spot. And with the addition of veteran tackle, Jared Gaither on Thursday, it'll be interesting to see how he performs against Tampa Bay. And with Gaither likely sitting out tonight's game, Mims is going to see a lot of action.
The stars of the defense will barely make an appearance Friday which will make any evaluations overall difficult but I would like to see a steady push against the Bucs front 5.
Tampa Bay isn't about to show their high octane offense on Friday night and it's doubtful that Freeman is going to do much but take a Kansas City curtain call and wave to his family and friends in the crowd. So it might be hard to gauge the Chiefs defense.
On paper it appears that the Chiefs got a bit weaker along the defensive line. Although the Chiefs made an upgrade at the nose tackle position by signing Kelly Gregg, they are very weak at defensive end. I don't suspect Glenn Dorsey to take any snaps on Friday after tweaking his knee last week in practice. And that means, Tyson Jackson should get some reps.
Jackson is the biggest mystery on this football team. And despite recent praise from Haley for his offseason MMA training, I' m more than skeptical that will translate Jackson into a better player on the field.
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So what do you expect from the Chiefs Friday night?
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