As Kansas City Chiefs training camp draws to a close today, now is the time to take a look at some of the players who improved their stock over the last three weeks. Although the River Falls portion of training camp is over, there's still a lot of work to be done as September 4th, the league mandated cut down day approaches and many guys are on the bubble. These players have boosted their position, so look for them in the next couple of preseason games.
The third year defensive end out of Oklahoma was promoted to the first team defense recently in camp. The move was predicated largely to inspire competition between Wilkerson and second year player Jared Allen. Although Allen registered nine sacks in his rookie campaign, the Chiefs coaching staff was frustrated with Allen's lapses within the scheme. Wilkerson has made the most of his opportunity, showing explosiveness and an ability to disrupt the offense's running game.
The Chiefs drafted William Bartee with the intent to convert him from his college position of safety to corner. Although the Chiefs have had success in the past with cornerback Eric Warfield, Bartee failed to grasp the nuances of the cornerback position. This offseason, the Chiefs reverted Bartee to safety, and he has thrived at the position. At safety, Bartee has looked natural and more confident. After never having an interception in a game his entire career, Bartee collected one in his very first game at his new position.
The young cornerback stepped up this camp, and the coaching staff has taken notice. The former rookie free agent out of Northern Iowa displayed natural coverage skills and has been a special teams demon. The talkative Sapp could lock up a roster spot if he carries the momentum of this camp back to Kansas City, and into the next two preseason games against the Cardinals and the Seahawks.
At the end of last season, conventional wisdom held that Jordan Black would be the starting right tackle going into this season. Kevin Sampson has been a pleasant surprise, holding up against the likes of Eric Hicks all camp long. Now, it looks as if Sampson will be one of the starters come September 11. His ability to play the right tackle position makes the offensive line better overall, allowing John Welbourn to return to right guard and back up Will Shields, and allowing Jordan Black to be groomed to be Willie Roaf's successor at left tackle.
Fullback Robert Holcombe was signed this offseason to be the backup at fullback and possibly even running back. Once he sustained an injury to his left knee, running back Ronnie Cruz got the nod, and with Holcombe sidelined indefinitely, could lock in a roster spot as a dual threat backup at both fullback and running back. Cruz has played well on special teams, strengthening his case to make the 53 man roster come September 4th.
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