1. Justin Houston’s contract situation?
This is the only question that doesn’t have an answer yet. A deal will get done here eventually, and while it needs to happen sooner rather than later; this is a question that’s going to just need more time to get answered.
2. Who’s going to step up in the secondary?
After mini camps, it appeared that, Ron Parker, would be the man opposite Marcus Cooper to start the regular season. But after a weak performance against the Cincinnati Bengals he’s no longer a lock to start. On his heals is veteran Cornerback, Sean Smith, who had a pick six last week but he still hasn’t fully worked his way back into the first team defense.
On the other side, Marcus Cooper, has been battling a nagging hamstring injury throughout camp, which hopefully won’t linger into the regular season. Free agent acquisition, Chris Owens, was the front runner for the nickel spot heading in to camp, and appears to have locked that position up. Rookie, Phillip Gaines, had a pretty solid camp, didn’t do anything too special, but looked pretty solid in the Bengals game.
The back end of the secondary is interesting. With injuries to safeties, Sanders Commings and Eric Berry, it’s put a damper on expectations for both. Commings is out after surgery and Berry is battling tendonitis in his heel. The good news is that Berry should be fine by the start of the season, but it’s extremely disappointing to see Commings go down for a second straight year.
However, with every injury comes an opportunity for someone else to rise in the depth chart. Safety, Malcolm Bronson has taken that opportunity and ran with it. Bronson is an undrafted free agent out of McNeese State, who by the way was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the 2008 MLB draft. He had a big six against the Bengals and is going to battle fellow undrafted safety, Daniel Sorensen for one of the back up safety slots. No matter which safety makes the final roster General Manager, John Dorsey has a reputation for giving small school guys and undrafted guys a shot in this league. In my mind, Bronson may be his latest diamond.
3. Who will step up and play WR opposite Dwayne Bowe?
Does it really matter? Remember Head Coach, Andy Reid, took a team to the Super Bowl with receivers, Freddy Mitchell and Todd Pinkston. His offense isn’t overly dependent on the WR position. Add that with the fact, Quarterback, Alex Smith, utilizes his tight ends and running backs in the passing game above his receivers and now you see why this might not be a big issues for this offense.
Sill someone has to step up because Bowe will sitting his one-game suspension in the season opener but that position might be filled by the tight ends in regards to productivity.
Currently the Chiefs are three deep at the tight end position. Veteran, Anthony Fasano, leads the back with second year man, Travis Kelce behind him and former basketball standout, Demetrius Harris brining up the rear. Kelce might be the teams best pass catcher while Fasano is the Chiefs best blocker. However Harris is a mixture of both that just needs NFL seasoning.
If you add the presence of the tight ends with the fact all of the Chiefs running backs can catch the ball, suddenly, void of the wide receiver position, the Chiefs have a multitude of options in the passing game. With passing weapons like, Jamaal Charles, Knile Davis and DeAnthony Thomas, they can fill the void on any given series. So it doesn’t necessarily matter who plays receiver for this team, because between the offensive scheme, the quarterback’s tendencies, the amount of playmakers at other positions, they should be just fine.
4. What will the offensive line look like in 2014?
As camp closed, it appears Eric Fisher, Jeff Allen, Rodney Hudson, Zach Fulton, and Donald Stephenson could be your opening day starters. Of the five, Fulton is the only real shock. Fulton is the Chiefs’ sixth round draft pick out of Tennessee, and all he’s done is work his tail off to rise from a potential practice squad candidate to NFL starter in a few months. Second year Center, Eric Kush, also had a very good camp also and appears to have locked up one of the reserve lineman roles, though we would not rule out a jump at starting this season. Rookie Laurent Duvernay-Tardif has played both guard and tackle in camp but he appears destined to play inside versus outside. Still it’s clear the Offensive Line is a work in progress and Eric Fisher still has a LONG way to go in his development.
Other Camp Observations
Kicker Cairo Santos - He could very well end up the Chiefs’ Kicker this season, replacing Ryan Succop. Santos has a slightly stronger leg and has been just as accurate in camp. The overriding factor though is the fact he’s costing the Chiefs far less than the veteran kicker he might replace.
ST Coach Dave Taub - His attention to details is truly amazing. It really doesn’t matter who’s returning kicks, he has found success in developing the players at his disposal that have the ability to score points in the return game. He continues to be one of the most underrated acquisitions of the last two seasons. Why the Chicago Bears let him go is beyond my comprehension.
QB Tyler Bray - No other player in camp has taken a bigger leap from year one to year two than the former Tennessee quarterback. However, to this point, he doesn’t appear to have separated himself enough from Chase Daniel to be the official back-up behind Smith. It will be interesting to see how the QB position ultimately shakes out over the next three exhibition games.
DeAnthony Thomas - Are you hearing me? This kid is VERY fast! Thomas can be a huge weapon for this team no matter where he lines up on the field. He can return punts, play receiver and lend his services at running back. He might be the most exciting player we saw in camp this year.
WR Albert Wilson - He continues to be the feel good story of camp. The undrafted receiver has payed his way into a productive member of the offense. He’s got good speed, good hands, and as showed against the Bengals, he’s a good kick returner as well.
LB Derrick Johnson - He’s still a man among boys. His work ethic, leadership, and playmaking ability are second to none in the NFL. Entering his tenth NFL season, he practices everyday like he was an undrafted rookie trying to make the roster for the first time. DJ is quickly playing his way into the Chiefs Hall of Fame.
LB Dee Ford - It’s clear he has playmaking ability. His first step is very good but his motor is even better. It’s going to be fun to see how he develops into his role within Bob Sutton’s defensive schemes. If he can become another high octane pass rusher complimenting Tamba Hali and Justin Houston, the Chiefs will have have one of the best front sevens in the NFL, right up there with the likes of Seattle and San Francisco.
Photos: Jamaal Charles (John Rieger USA Today Sports), Justin Houston (Denny Medley USA Today Sports).
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