1. How much will we see the starters?
Typically the last preseason contest features the B team and after the first quarter turns into a token appearance on TV for guys about to rejoin the real world with the rest of us.
But with Head Coach Todd Haley you never really know.
Haley has been marching to the beat of his own drum throughout this lockout shortened offseason. And something tells me, he go against the grain Thursday night.
"I would say our core guys will have a good amount of playing time" said Haley about how much his starters will play.
There is no question that his squad could use the extra prep time. The Chiefs have one of the easiest training camps in the NFL this year. And that's meant to date, the offense has been anything but cohesive. Although the Chiefs are remarkably thin at key positions like quarterback and offensive line, they simply can't afford to wait till opening day to establish continuity.
2. Offensive Line With Offensive Tackle Ryan O'Callaghan being placed on the Injured Reserve list Tuesday, the Chiefs got weaker at a position already a bit meek. The Chiefs have 3 legitimate tackles in Brandon Albert, Barry Richardson, and Jared Gaither but no reliable depth passed that.
But despite a solid performance against the St. Louis Rams last Friday, Gaither's health is largely up for debate. Add that Richardson's disappointing appearance last week; the Chiefs are treading on a slippery slope.
Inside the tackles the Chiefs still have some question marks. But the good news is for the coaching staff, there are significantly more options to get excited about.
To date, rookie offensive lineman Rodney Hudson has been impressive. He's already proven his versatility. With Ryan Lilja still out with an undisclosed injury, Hudson will take over at left guard Thursday night. Although Hudson will likely be the successor to Center Casey Wiegmann next season, knowing Hudson could fill in adequately if called upon, would be a relief for the entire offensive coaching staff.
3. Justin Houston/Cameron Sheffield vs. Andy Studebaker
Andy Studebaker has been a great story since joining the Chiefs squad as an undrafted player out of little known Wheaton College a few years ago. But he's about to learn, that the NFL is no fairytale.
Though three preseason games Studebaker has not looked good. His lack of speed has hampered him both in coverage and in rushing the quarterback. On the other hand two of the Chiefs young linebackers, Justin Houston and Cameron Sheffield, have shown much potential.
So is it enough for either to oust the starter?
Before the start of the 2010 season, Sheffield was placed on injured reserve. But showed great ability to rush the quarterback and what little action he saw last summer. The jury is still out on Sheffield but he would definitely be an improvement for blitz packages.
Houston seems destined to become a starter at some point in the first quarter of the season. If Houston continues to pile up sacks and quarterback pressures and Studebaker struggles, it will be hard for the coaching staff to keep an exciting player like Houston from taking his rightful place opposite Tamba Hali in the Chiefs starting unit.
4. Tyson Jackson
It took several weeks for the rest of the local media to catch up to what Warpaint Illustrated has been saying since the start of training camp. It appears that the secret on Tyson Jackson is out.
Jackson continues to struggle at the point of attack and is getting pushed aside by stronger and more physical offensive tackles. I can't see the Chiefs cutting bait with Jackson given his lofty draft position but this guy has to get better this year or his future in Kansas City is in serious doubt.
The good news is that Jackson is putting out a maximum effort. The bad news is, outside of his play against the Baltimore Ravens, he hasn't produced any big plays for the Chiefs defense. Part of that problem might be the fact he's still learning the Chiefs defensive schemes. Jackson has all the ability in the world needed for a prototypical 3-4 defensive end but is struggling to put it all together. Hopefully he can show something Thursday. Because if not, Allen Bailey will be right on his heels for a starting spot as the season moves forward.
5. Jerheme Urban
It's hard to get excited about a guy like Jerheme Urban with Dwayne Bowe, Jon Baldwin, and Steve Breaston on the roster but Urban could play a vital role in 2011.
With Baldwin's timetable to get back on the field still in question, Urban will likely be the receiver opposite Bowe when the season starts a week from Sunday against Buffalo. At some point, Breaston will obviously make his presence felt but I like him in the slot position.
Urban has been called one of the fastest players on this roster by his own head coach who has been singing his praises ever since his arrival in Kansas City a year ago. In fact, had it not been for a hand injury, Urban would have started nearly every game in 2010 for the Chiefs.
The truth is nobody knows a lot about Urban. In Arizona, he played behind all world receivers, Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin. Urban has the size and quickness to play behind either one of those great receivers. The Chiefs are hoping he can become a solid starter or back-up for them this season.
WARPAINT ILLUSTRATED MESSAGE BOARDS:
Will we learn anything from Thursdays preseason game about the Kansas City Chiefs?
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