1. Justin Houston – We all know the chances he shows up on the field Tuesday to join the rest of his teammates, has about as much reality as yours truly winning the lottery.
To his credit, Houston has been working out on his own and will no doubt come to training camp in tremendous shape. He might not have much interest in accepting the Chiefs current rags to riches contract, but give the man props for staying in shape.
His failure to appear this week could mean we get to see what, Dee Ford can do in his absence. If Ford can continue to grow, as he did late last season in a Chiefs uniform, he could be a reasonable buffer on the field, should Houston be a training camp no-show.
2. Alex Smith – Until last week, the Chiefs starting quarterback was MIA in OTA’s. Yes he attended every session but his accuracy and down field aerial strikes were way off target.
The fact he and his understudy, Aaron Murray, both stepped up their games last week, should be a big sigh of relief for Head Coach, Andy Reid.
If the Chiefs are going to sustain any success this season, Smith has to become a Pro Bowl caliber quarterback. In the early stages of May, that seemed unlikely. However, he turned a corner last week and that bodes well for his chances to succeed in 2015 at a level that finally ends KC’s playoff winless drought.
3. Marcus Peters & Steven Nelson – Thanks to NCAA rules, both drafted cornerbacks were forced to sit out the teams OTA sessions. That means the talented Pac-12 corners are behind the men they are chasing to earn playing time this season.
Though both have extreme talent they need as much NFL experience as they can get between now and opening day. The Houston Texans game isn’t that far down the road and both need to come into this mini-camp with fire in their belly.
The key for KC’s young and experienced defense might boil down on how well both can adapt to the Chiefs highflying, fast paced defensive style that, Bob Sutton, expects from all his cornerbacks.
4. Jeremy Maclin – Though he’s been nicked up a bit, he needs to continue to lead his unit. Though rookie, Chris Conley and veteran, Jason Avant, have been terrific thus far in OTA’s, its Maclin’s group to lead.
Forget the fact the Chiefs gave him a 5-year, $55 million deal to lure him away from the Philadelphia Eagles; he’s the man that will make KC’s offense explode in 2015.
With running back, Jamaal Charles and Tight End, Travis Kelce, set at their respective positions, Maclin has to make an immediate impact (health permitting) over the next three days to complete the trifecta of possibilities.
Though I’m not ready to tag him as the franchise savior, it would not be a stretch to believe that’s indeed what he is for this offense. If Maclin has an All Pro season in Kansas City, then KC’s offense can be dynamic and nearly unstoppable.
5. Offensive Line – Much has been said about KC’s revamped, reshaped, and perhaps incomplete offensive line. If rumors suggest, the Chiefs are interested in veteran Guard, Evan Mathis, perhaps it will be training camp before we figure out which five men will open the season as starters for KC.
We know Eric Fisher, Ben Grubbs and probably Jeff Allen are locks to start somewhere on the offensive line. After that, it’s still a crapshoot. There are some candidates but the addition of Mathis would strengthen and complicate matters.
Yet no matter which five ultimately become starters they’ll be far better than any five that started a year ago in Kansas City. However, the eventual lottery winners on the line, need to begin that separation heading into training camp. By doing so, the head coach can maximize the use of his playbook this season – something that has yet to happen in two years in KC.