This Saturday, August 18, the Chiefs tee up episode two of the proving ground. Traveling to the St. Louis Rams for the annual Governor’s Cup, we’ll get a bit more clarity on some key positional battles.
I just watched the Chiefs-Cardinals game on the NFL Network’s Preseason Live package (as an aside, I love this package. On the condensed view, you get to see the entire game in just thirty minutes, which is just perfect for a preseason game!).
Here’s what I see as the key positional battles as we creep closer to the first major release of players on August 27, when we go from a roster of 90 players down to 75, on our way to 53 by August 31.
In 2011, the Chiefs kept eight linebackers. For 2012, we have four slotted in for sure: Derrick Johnson, Tamba Hali, Justin Houston and yes, I’m putting Jevon Belcher in the “for sure” camp. Assuming we keep eight backers again, that leaves four slots for:
- Cory Greenwood
- Edgar Jones
- Cameron Sheffield
- Brandon Siler
- Andy Studebaker
Who’s the odd linebacker out? Greenwood, Sheffield and Jones played well in game one. Studebaker is a known, and loved commodity. He almost got another interception against the Cardinals. He’s not the fastest, not the strongest and doesn’t have the best moves, but he’s got that nose for the football and he is a monster on special teams. Siler played sparingly but he was brought in for a good reason before his injury last year. I think this might be a race between Jones (sixth year) and Greenwood (third year) for the last linebacker slot. We’ll see how they all fare in game two.
Last year, the Chiefs kept five cornerbacks. This year, four are a lock: Brandon Flowers, Stanford Routt, Javier Arenas (who doubles as a returner) and Jalil Brown, whose size and athleticism just can’t be ignored. That leaves four players fighting for one spot:
- Travis Daniels
- DeQuan Menzie
- Jacques Reeves
- Donald Washington
This year, the Chiefs may keep six cornerbacks, since Arenas could be primarily viewed as a returner. I hope they do. Daniels is a proven, fairly reliable corner who can also play safety. Menzie, I think, has great potential, coming from that great Alabama defensive tradition. Reeves played a decent game against the Cardinals, but unfortunately, I think he and Washington are out.
This one isn’t as controversial as you may think. We have five running backs who all should contribute. Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis or a lock of course. That leaves Shaun Draughn who was so impressive against the Cards, Cyrus Gray, and our only true fullback, Shane Bannon. Luckily, last year, the Chiefs kept five running backs. I hope all five stay.
Steve Maneri. Who would’ve thought?! Last year, the Chiefs kept three tight ends. Sorry, Jake O’Connell.
This one is difficult. Last year, the Chiefs kept six wide receivers, although they classified Dexter as a running back. This year, McCluster is clearly a receiver. So, assuming Bowe plays, we have four locks: Bowe, Baldwin, Breaston and McCluster. That leaves just two slots for:
- Josh Bellamy
- Terrance Copper
- Junior Hemingway
- Jeremy Horne
- Zeke Markshausen
- Jamar Newsome
- Devon Wylie
I think Wylie makes the final 53 for sure. That leaves one slot left. Newsome was targeted six times in game one, with just two catches. Bellamy was 0 for 3. Copper has shown flashes but just hasn’t proven himself over the years. Horne has had a decent camp, and we haven’t heard much from Hemingway. Markshausen has also been pretty quiet.
I’m torn here, Addicts. This is a tough one. Do we assign two receivers to the practice squad, and keep Copper or Horne? Do we test out Markshausen, who has shown flashes in the past, and Hemingway, who has a bit of upside?
I think game two will be a big test for the wide receivers. This position is the most difficult to whittle down, followed by linebacker. What do you think, Addicts? Which positional competition will be most highlighted in game two?!