The preseason is all about making an impression on the coaching staff. Some players are fighting for starting spots while others are fighting to make the team. Regardless of each player’s situation, preseason is the time to seize any and all opportunities. Those who fail to do so will find themselves on the bench or worse, on the streets.
Each Monday during the preseason, I will visit which players I thought helped themselves. Later, I will tell you who I think hurt their chances.
And we’re off.
1. Jamaal Charles
While Charles certainly isn’t fighting it out for a roster spot, he is in competition with Thomas Jones and Dexter McCluster for playing time. Charles went to work on Friday night averaging over 9 yards per carry. He showed that last year’s performance was not an anomaly and that he is the most talented back on the roster. He did look a little rusty at times. There were a couple of runs that he probably could have taken to the house if he was in midseason form but some rustiness is be expected in his first live action of the preseason. Charles will be just fine.
2. Kendrick Lewis
Lewis did not look like a 5th round pick on Friday night. He looked as though he should have been taken much higher. Lewis showed a nose for the ball and always seemed to be around when the play was over. On one instance, he did a nice job of coming up and covering Tony Gonzalez on a play that ended in Matt Ryan throwing the ball away. On another play, Lewis came on a well timed safety blitz and laid a lick on QB Chris Redman, forcing an intentional grounding call. This play was an example of Kendrick’s athleticism. McGraw, while a smart veteran, never could have made that play.
Lewis may not start, if only because the Chiefs don’t want two rookies at safety but make no mistake, he will get significant playing time. If he adapts to the NFL quickly, Lewis could be starting by midseason.
3. Andy Studebaker
The Chiefs are grooming Andy Studebaker. He impressed them with his play in place of Mike Vrabel last year and he is continuing to progress in camp. In an effort to get Studebaker more involved, the Chiefs have been bringing him in at OLB when they go to the nickel package. To make room for Studebaker they are sliding Vrabel to MLB.
Studebaker played well on Friday, often getting penetration against the run. He also did a nice job rushing the passer in one situation, arriving at the QB at the same time as Tamba Hali. The play flushed Matt Ryan out of the pocket and lead to an incomplete pass. Reports our of Chiefs camp on Sunday were that Studebaker was getting most of the first team snaps at OLB with Vrabel taking snaps at MLB in the nickel package. Interesting…
4. Jeremy Horne
Right about now you may be asking yourself who the heck Jeremy Horne is and wondering if he even caught a pass on Friday. Well, he is a WR and no, he didn’t. But he should have had two catches for about 120 yards and 2 touchdowns. The speedster out of Massachusetts had two instances where he broke free of his coverage…like, really free. Think 5-7 yards in front of his man. Unfortunately on both occasions, Horne was over thrown by Kansas City QB’s. If Peyton Manning is under center, Horne is a preseason star and diamond in the rough for the Chiefs.
I am not saying Horne is going to make the team but on a squad as thin at WR as the Chiefs, he has a pretty good shot. Todd Haley noticed Horne on Friday night and even mentioned him in his post game press conference. Not bad for a guy who had o catches for o yards. Horne apparently had a repeat performance in practice on Sunday when Brodie Croyle hit him in stride for a long TD.
5. Javier Arenas
Javier Arenas is definitely earning his Arrowhead. When he got the chance to return the ball he was electric. He set the Chiefs up in fantastic field position on one return and took another 99 yards for a touchdown, only to have it called back due to a holding penalty.
In coverage, Arenas looked pretty good. The Falcons didn’t use a lot of 3 and 4 WR sets so Arenas wasn’t on the field a lot but when he was, his coverage looked tight. He did have some catches charged to him but each time he was right there with the receiver. Not bad for his first pro game.
There were a lot of Chiefs players who showed some nice flashes on Friday. The trick for the coaching staff will be to get these players on the field at the same time and get them to be consistent. Look for the personnel groups to start to come together more and more as the preseason rolls on.