Cliff Notes: Chiefs vs Bears

The preseason is underway and football is back. Thursday's Chiefs game marked the beginning of what could be the most important preseason in recent history. The team is in the middle of a transition period, have a ton of question marks, and the preseason opener was KC's first chance to prove they're moving in the right direction.

One of the biggest question marks heading into 2008 was whether Brodie Croyle could be a consistent NFL starter. From the looks of Thursday's first drive, he can, and did exactly what Head Coach Herm Edwards will ask him to do all season - move the football, not turn it over, and make plays when needed.

Croyle did all of that against the Chicago Bears, who boast one of the league's most feared defenses. The Chiefs opened the game with a 16-play, 81-yard, eight-minute and 45-second drive. For a coach who preaches ball and clock control, it was everything Edwards could have hoped for.

There were a few setbacks, like the missed block by Adrian Jones that led to Larry Johnson getting nailed in the backfield for a six-yard loss, or the play where Johnson went the wrong way on a play-action bootleg and Croyle had to scramble for a first down. But in a year where the Chiefs are going to be expected to play flawless football and get a little lucky in order to win games, they proved that they do have the capability to overcome.

On that opening drive, a pass intended for Dwayne Bowe was questionably ruled incomplete, a play was blown up six yards in the backfield and Johnson went the wrong way on a play that forced his quarterback to improvise. Last year, any one of those misfortunes could have cost the Chiefs a drive, but on the first possession of 2008, they overcame all three setbacks on their way to a touchdown.

While it's no monumental feat, it is a feather in Croyle's cap along with the rest of the offensive starters. They showed resilience, something they're going to need in order to survive this year. Being such a young team, plenty will go wrong this year for the Chiefs, and they will need to exert some tenacity in order to compete.

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Another quarterback who showed some resilience against the Bears Thursday night was Damon Huard. With rumors of Chad Pennington becoming a Chief, Huard was able to put together a solid performance, a bid to save his career. There's a lot of speculation that Herm Edwards wants to bring in his former signal caller from New York, but Huard didn't let that bother him, completing six of eight passes with a touchdown. Keep your eye on this story for the next couple days, because Huard's touchdown pass to Maurice Price may have been his last as Kansas City Chief.

Huard wasn't the only one fighting for his job in the preseason opener, as there are 80 players on KC's current roster, and there will only be 53 when the team departs for New England on the first weekend in September. One player trying to make his case for a roster spot is wide receiver Maurice Price, who was picked up last year as an undrafted college free agent before breaking his clavicle in training camp. Thursday night, he caught two passes for 33 yards and a touchdown.

Price's injury in 2007 made room for Bobby Sippio, who has quickly became a fan favorite. Sippio caught three passes for 57 yards and a touchdown at Soldier Field Thursday. Barring some freak injuries, both Sippio and Price may not make the 53-man roster, so how they play could make for an interesting story line the rest of the preseason.

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There are 29 rookies playing for Kansas City, and while the two highest paid rookies – Glenn Dorsey and Branden Albert - did not play against Chicago, others made their NFL debut.

Running back Jamaal Charles had four carries for 13 yards, showing some of the speed that got him drafted. Tight end Brad Cottam made a few nice receptions, dispelling the myth that he was brought in as a blocking tight end. Kicker Connor Barth already looks like an upgrade over the rookie kicker who wore No. 5 for the Chiefs last year, and wide receiver Will Franklin showed some toughness by holding on to the ball while getting drilled, something he will have to do if the Chiefs keep him in the slot this season.

If you're pumped because the Chiefs won their first contest since last October and showed flashes of improvement, don't get too excited. If you don't like the way the defense gave up long runs and you think the team looked pitiful, don't get too depressed. After all, it is the preseason.

NUGGET OF BROADCASTING WISDOM

"I wouldn't want to bring a quick defensive back and put him at center, because that would be difficult for him." - Rich Baldinger on Rudy Niswanger's height.

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