It all starts up front and the Chiefs defensive line is still struggling to forge an identity. I have been very impressed with Tyson Jackson over the last two weeks, but he still has a long way to go to live up to his high draft status. Paired with Dorsey, the Chiefs should have an outstanding front line, assuming both can live up to their lofty expectations.
The combination of Dorsey, Edwards, and Jackson played very well last Friday night, but with two of the three being top five overall draft picks, anything short of dominance should be viewed as a failure. If both players continue to show improvement on Thursday, however, it will be a very positive sign that they could still become what many guaranteed they would be.
But Dorsey and Jackson are not the only high profile draft picks with with eyes glued to their backs.
REric Berry is one of only a handful of safeties taken in the first five of the NFL draft, and the last couple weeks he has began to display why. Berry was all over the field last Friday, not only in coverage, but coming up to make plays against the rush. Berry's nose for the ball is what made him such an enticing pick up for the Chiefs last April and so far he this appears to be transitioning to the NFL. Another big night from Eric "very scary" Berry and Chiefs fans should start getting really excited about this Romeo Crennel led defense.
The most vicious battle, one that has been raging since the first day of camp, is for three of the four starting linebacker positions. Tamba Hali is the only penciled in starter which leaves Jovan Belcher, Corey Mays, Demorrio Williams, Derrick Johnson, Mike Vrabel, and Andy Studebaker all fighting it out down to the wire. And with Hali likely out for the game, we will get to see all of them featured at length.
It's said coaches don't sleep much this time of year, and with this rather large group of seemingly very talented linebackers, I can definitely see why.
Belcher appears to have locked down starting gig.
Belcher seems to have the job, but Mays continues to play strong against the run. Johnson has had his best camp as a pro, but Williams seems to be playing with a fierceness we have not seen in the past. Vrabel too looks re-energized, but the young Studebaker is having an incredible preseason and is making a strong case for being the starter on Monday night.
As if this were not enough for the coaching staff to sort through, the Chiefs also have some special teams contributors in Justin Cole, David Herron, and Cory Greenwood, who also happens to be the second-team long snapper. Add rookie Cameron Sheffield and an improving Pierre Walters and you have 12 linebackers.
At the very least, one or two will be sent packing on Saturday's final cuts, so all need to have a great showing in their last shot to make the roster. None of these players are dispensable and I would not be surprised if any besides Hali are not with the team at the home opener.