1. QB Alex Smith/Tyler Bray - The Chiefs starter looked anything but sharp last week against the Cincinnati Bengals. In facing the Carolina Panthers, he’s going up against one of the best defensive units in the NFL. I said a week ago his current contract limbo had something to do with his performance.
However, I’m not so sure that was the case. In reviewing the game film, it was clear his offensive line betrayed his efforts to feel comfortable in the pocket. The good news is over the last ten days the Chiefs offensive line has made some progress to close out training camp. Either way it would be nice if he finds the end zone at least once during his two quarters of work Sunday.
For me though, the most important quarterback on the team right now is the back-up spot. With veteran, Chase Daniel and second year man, Tyler Bray, in a battle for Smith’s understudy role, all signs are pointing toward Bray getting the nod come opening day.
I would love to see what this kid could do with the first team offense but he should have a better cast around him than he did against the Bengals whenever he gets on the field. Sure he struggled in his first live game action but he still has the Chiefs best arm and his accuracy is still the highest on the team.
2. WR Albert Wilson - If the season started today, he might play with the first team unit when the Chiefs use their spread offense. In that formation, Kansas City will have four receivers on the field and I’m beginning to think Wilson will be one of them.
To date in camp, he’s been the Chiefs most consistent performer. Despite his size and lack of NFL experience, he seems a perfect fit for Reid’s offense. The Georgia State receiver came into camp as a long shot but he’s emerging as a real threat for playing time in the regular season.
In watching the game again, he reminds me so much of former Chiefs Safety, Jon McGraw. Though Sorensen has more speed than McGraw, he appears to have similar ball awareness. At the safety position, that’s key. The Chiefs have no proven depth at the position and with Berry’s injuries to date; this young man has a chance to solidify a roster spot.
4. LB Justin Houston - Like Smith he’s embattled with the organization over his desire to secure a new contract. He wasn’t all that stellar a week ago against the Bengals. He needs a quick start going against one of the games best young quarterbacks, Cam Newton, to shake off the rust.
Houston is the key to the Chiefs defensive fortunes this season. But a stronger showing in the preseason, might strike some fear into the organization that the contract stalemate needs to jump to a higher priority. Either way he needs to get a few sacks under his belt to get into regular season form.
5. CB Sean Smith - Outside of Houston cornerback, Sean Smith, has the ability to change the Chiefs fortunes defensively. At the moment, he’s on the second tier of the roster depth chart but it’s just a matter of time before he moves to his starters spot.
Smith has showed signs of maturing throughout camp. His pick six against the Bengals was a good start in his rehabilitation program on and off the field. A year ago he was a high profile free agent acquisition who didn’t do much to warrant the big bucks he signed.
But he can change all that with another strong effort against the Panthers.
Photos of Sean Smith courtesy of Denny Medley USA Today Sports
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