The Kansas City Chiefs are now five days into their annual training camp. The team’s first preseason matchup, with the Cincinnati Bengals, is just nine days away. It’s still very early in the last leg of the offseason campaign, but a number of players have already made an impression on the coaching staff. It’s tough to know what can really be taken away from camp practices. The real tests will come with game situations over the next several weeks. Today, I’d like to take a look at the players I’m anxious to see under the preseason lights.
I won’t go the conventional route and compile a list of players who are known commodities to Chiefs Kingdom. Young players are the lifeblood of the preseason. I find that rookies, undrafted free agents, and returning players fighting for a job create the most interesting storylines in August. It’s with that in mind that we’ll jump right into the Chiefs’ cadre I’m eager to see on the field a week from Thursday.
(WR) Mark Harrison
I realize that Harrison’s an odd choice to top this list, but through a handful of practices, he’s managed to show up on video in quite a few practice reports at KCChiefs.com. There are rarely any highlights of note in those clips, but Harrison’s become a familiar face in them. He’s made two or three impressive catches where he highpointed the ball and snatched a pass away from a defender. It’s that kind of physicality and ability that will help bolster a receiving corps short on talent.
At 6-foot-3 and roughly 230 pounds, Mark Harrison could almost pass as an NFL tight end. He’s bigger and taller than anyone else in his position group. He’s not the sudden, quick-twitch complement to Dwayne Bowe that would be ideal in head coach Andy Reid’s offense, but he has exceptional tools to be the kind of vertical threat the organization hoped Jon Baldwin would be. Being productive and amassing quality game tape will be two of the best ways for Harrison to make this team.
(OG) Zach Fulton
Zach Fulton could very well be the next late-round pick of the Chiefs to become an NFL starter. The former Tennessee Volunteer has been battling with Rishaw Johnson for the starting guard spot all offseason. Surprisingly, Fulton’s gotten a number of reps with the first team. He stands a reasonable chance to win outright if he can be consistent in preseason games. I’m anxious to see how Fulton will adapt to the speed of the NFL. Johnson has a full season on the roster and a regular season start under his belt.
If Zach Fulton can prove he’s capable of handling the pace of an NFL game, he’ll make his case to fill the vacancy between Rodney Hudson and Donald Stephenson. Fulton is big and strong, but he doesn’t have the mean streak you’d expect in a player his size. He could also do a better job of finding and blocking a defender at the second level. Reid prefers offensive linemen who can lock on to a target down the field. Blocking someone effectively 5-10 yards from the line of scrimmage can mean the difference between a 7-yard gain and a 45-yard touchdown for offensive weapons like Jamaal Charles and Knile Davis.
(DE) Allen Bailey
Allen Bailey has a three-year, $13 million contract problem. I should clarify — that’s not his contract. It actually belongs to free agent acquisition Vance Walker. For the next 30 days, Bailey’s mission will be to perform in such a way that the value of Walker’s deal won’t factor into Reid’s decision of who’ll be Kansas City’s starting defensive end (opposite of Mike DeVito). Make no mistake, he’ll also have to prove he can supply the same kind of pressure that the former Raider brings. One of the key components of the signing is Walker’s ability to get after the quarterback.
Since we last saw Allen Bailey, he’s added about 12 pounds. He’s now hovering around 300 and with the added bulk he has a legitimate shot at playing all three downs. Bailey has the size he needs to be effective in run support, but has he maintained the speed and agility to be the passrushing force the Chiefs need? DeVito’s a stout run defender, but he doesn’t get much pressure on the quarterback. Bob Sutton’s defense needs that presence on the other side of the defensive line. In the final year of his contract, Bailey’s fighting for his life. Game 1 with the Bengals will be his first real opportunity to prove he can be a disruptive passrusher.
These are the three players I’ll keep a watchful eye on in the preseason opener a week from Thursday. Who are you most excited to see in Game 1? Will Mark Harrison make this football team? Can Zach Fulton beat second-year man Rishaw Johnson to the job at right guard? Is Allen Bailey the favorite to be the starting defensive end? I’m always anxious to see what the readers have to say. Use the comment section below to chime in. As always, we appreciate your readership and support.
Until next time, Addicts!
Tags: Kansas City Chiefs