Congratulations to all of us Addicts for surviving another offseason! I must admit, with the Combine, the Draft, free agency, OTA’s and training camp, this offseason was the easiest we’ve had it in recent memory. During the rough moments though (i.e. January, February, and what the hell, November and December), all I can say is, thank you Arrowhead Addict and the NFL Network!
Tomorrow kicks off the 2013 preseason, as the Chiefs travel to New Orleans to take on the Saints (for a great preview of things to look for, check out Jason Seibel’s post from this weekend). Like most preseason games, we want to avoid injuries and identify second and third stringers and practice team players to keep. With the starters likely playing just 1-2 series (or perhaps even a full quarter in the case of Alex Smith), we probably won’t learn much more about the three to four positional battles that are not 100% resolved: tight end, number two receiver, inside linebacker and guard. And I know we all want to see how the starters gel and what the new-look offense and defense can do. But the gameplan will be simple and their time on the field will be short. The more interesting tests will be how our rookie starters adjust to the speed of the game and how backups – whether rookies or veterans – earn their keep and pick up valuable playing time.
I’m excited to see rookies Eric Fisher and Nico Johnson perform, and maybe we’ll get to see them for more than just a handful of series, in order to give them as much live game experience as possible before the regular season opener. Fisher will start for sure and Johnson may wind up playing opposite Derrick Johnson on the first snap of the regular season. Do you remember in the pre-draft debate, many experts chose Fisher over Luke Joeckel because of his mean streak? Well, now’s the time. Let’s see it, Eric!
Safety Husain Abdullah will see his first live action since starting for the Minnesota Vikings in 2011, after taking last year off to take a pilgrimage to Mecca. Abdullah has had a great training camp despite his minor injury, and may even earn his way to be a starter, if he outperforms Tysyn Hartman. At minimum, with Kendrick Lewis prone to injury, I think Abdullah needs to be ready to go from Day One because he’s likely to see considerable playing time, whether he starts or not.
Second-year receivers Junior Hemingway and Josh Bellamy, third year player Jamar Newsome, and rookie Rico Richardson – all of whom have had positive training camps – will have the opportunity to show their coaches that they deserve consideration as backups. I’m especially excited to see Hemingway in action, if he’s able to play with a sprained thumb. Every year, a team has a receiver who comes out of nowhere to become a burgeoning star. We’ve seen that with Miles Austin with the Cowboys (who had his breakout game against, ahem, the Chiefs), Victor Cruz with the Giants and Eric Decker with the Broncos. After years of inaction at wide receiver, it’s time for the Chiefs to have a deep group of receivers, not just one.
Several Chiefs’ rookies may not start this year but will see a ton of playing time. For Travis Kelce and Knile Davis, the preseason is pure gold. For Demetrius Harris, the basketball-player-turned-tight-end, every minute on the field is make-up time for his lack of experience with the game.
But most importantly, and perhaps most exciting for us Addicts, we’re going to get a heavy dose of Chase Daniel, Tyler Bray and Ricky Stanzi! I have visions of Daniel being able to turn in performances like Kirk Cousins did last year for Washington, when RGIII went down. Having never been a Stanzi guy, I’m also looking forward to seeing Bray’s athleticism and arm, to see if he can lock down that third QB spot.
Addicts, what are you watching for tomorrow night?!!