There is no question that Baldwin has enormous talent. But how quickly he adapts to the speed of the NFL game is going to be key for his success in 2011. If the Chiefs offense is going to be more competitive against some of the better defenses in the NFL, Baldwin has to mature very quickly. Hopefully he gets a few series and the Chiefs quarterbacks can get him the ball in open spaces.
2. LB Jovan Belcher - He's been very quiet in training camp thus far. He needs to make a few plays tonight to regain that swagger he had as a rookie when he was flying all over the field. With the addition of Brandon Siler to the roster via free agency, Belcher needs to show the coaching staff that he intends to hold onto his starting spot.
Belcher is a good NFL story. Undrafted from the University of Maine, not a staple program for shelling out great NFL prospects, Belcher has to develop into an inside force that can make plays behind the line of scrimmage. To me he's a gang tackler and if he wants to keep that starting job, he needs to roll up the solo tackles.
3. LB Cameron Sheffield - He's been the forgotten man in camp this summer for the Chiefs. After suffering a season ending concussion a year ago, Sheffield has a golden opportunity to impress defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel on Friday night.
With Justin Houston finally showing up in practice this week, it's likely the two outside linebackers will be in for a summer battle to determine who either backs up Andy Studebaker or which player can overtake him for a starting role. That competition begins tonight.
4. QB Ricky Stanzi - I've talked about him a lot this week. To me, he's the best back-up option the Chiefs have behind starter, Matt Cassel. I've seen nothing in Tyler Palko that suggests he can lead the Chiefs offense into anything beyond three and out. That might be harsh but at this point, he has to prove me wrong.
On the other hand, Stanzi looks like a quarterback who is gaining confidence each day in practice. And under the guidance of Chiefs quarterback coach, Jim Zorn, Stanzi appears to be gaining control of the Chiefs complex offense. His maturation over the next four games is going to determine if the Chiefs sign a veteran quarterback to be Cassel's understudy this season.
5. DE Allen Bailey - If the season started today, the Chiefs new draft pick from Miami, would be a starter. Bailey came to camp in terrific shape. So did Tyson Jackson for that matter. But there is no comparison between the two defensive ends beyond that.
Bailey has a golden opportunity to take the starters role away from Jackson. A solid showing Friday night against the Bucs could go a long way to propelling him from back-up to starter. To me he already has outperformed Jackson in practice and the time he's spent next to veteran defensive tackle, Kelly Gregg, is only going to make him a better player in the short run.
WARPAINT ILLUSTRATED MESSAGE BOARDS:
So what do you expect from the Chiefs Friday night?
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