The busiest, most memorable offseason in recent Chiefs history came to a close when camp opened on July 6th. Now that the final preseason game has been played, let’s take a look at the top five defining moments of the 2013 preseason.
1) The Jamaal Charles Injury
Kansas City Chiefs fans collectively experienced sheer panic during training camp when we started seeing our Twitter feeds blow up with reports that Jamaal Charles was “carted off” of the practice field with an apparent injury. Our hearts stopped. We were suddenly short of breath. This was it.
The visions we had been having lately of Jamaal taking screen plays to the house and running free in open space like a wild stallion on some distant, mystical beach flashed before our eyes. We feared that these visions would never come to life; that they would only live in our heads – and even then, they’d slowly disappear over time, like the memories of a dream.
But as luck would have it, it was all a big nothing. Hoards of “Tweeters,” in unending attempts to grab more followers, tend to lean towards the dramatic more often than not. By “carted off,” they meant that he rode in a cart (in fact, by all accounts, it was the front seat). Simple as that. In fact, it was apparently a far cry from what I had initially envisioned – you know, the whole “guy in the back of the cart with a towel over his face, knowing with every fiber of his being that he’ll miss the coming season, and soon begin the long, hard trek back to recovery” scene that we’ve all witnessed before.
This wasn’t the case. Jamal was fine.
The injury does seem like the kind that could stick around. Minor injuries (especially foot injuries) have become lingering issues for players before. But in the end, Jamal will start at Jacksonville. And that’s a very, very good thing.
2) The First Drive – Chiefs/Saints
The Chiefs’ first possession under the Andy Reid/Alex Smith era was worth the wait. 14 Plays. 80 Yards. 1 Touchdown.
The drive was meticulous. Plodding. Swift. We finally saw with our own eyes what we had been hoping for: an effective offense that featured the team’s unquestioned star (Charles had 8 touches the drive), and employed Smith’s accuracy and decision making. This might be the defining moment of the entire preseason, as you could feel the dense fog of 2012 disappearing with each first down.
3) The Comeback – Chiefs/Steelers
Not Chase’s, though it was nice, too. I’m talking about the first team, and the first half.There wasn’t much time left in the half when the Chiefs took over on their own 28. In fact, there was only 1:18 remaining. Alex Smith, owner of 10 careerfourth quarter comebacks and 12 game winning drives, takes the Chiefs down the field and throws a game-tying touchdown pass to Junior Hemingway.This was an inspiring show by Alex Smith. Not just because was was 6/7 on the drive. Not just because he showed a great understanding of his new offense. And certainly not simply because he took a cheap shot from Troy Polamalu early in the drive, and popped right up as if nothing happened. It was impressive because of all of these things happened, and Smith still succeeded. Numerous Smith detractors have said many times that Smith was merely a product of the talent around him; that his stats were inflated because of a great defense, and fantastic coaching. Smith proved on this drive that he could get it done with a completely different team, and a completely different coach.
4) Tony Moeaki Injured Again
While the Tony Moeaki loss may not surprise a majority of us Chiefs fans, I think we can see the writing on the wall. Moeaki has loads of talent, and has shown us this in two healthy seasons. But it’s starting to look as if it just isn’t meant to be for Moeaki. He’s run into some bad luck, and seems to simply be injury prone. Some players just are.
I could see the Chiefs sticking with him this season, but next year is looking dicey. Moeaki’s injury may not be a true “defining moment,” but it is a strong reminder that the NFL stops for no one. If you fall off the train, it’s hard to get back on.
5) The Tyler Bray Show
Four or five years from now, we may look back on the final preseason game of 2013 as the moment a star was born. Bray looked stellar against the Pack, and had Chiefs Kingdom buzzing. Three touchdown passes in a single game has been more than a rarity in recent years, and is almost enough to make Bray an urban legend without playing a single regular season game.
While we should probably pump the brakes just a bit, it is comforting to have a very large young man with a very strong arm waiting in the wings, should his opportunity arise. If Reid can get the best out of guys like Jeff Garcia, Kevin Kolb and Nick Foles, the chances are good he could do the same with Bray. Smith is the unquestioned starter for this football team, but Chase had better watch out. Bray’s coming for that second spot.
Those are my top five defining moments of the 2013 Preseason. What about you guys?