K.C. Chiefs Offense: Bubble Trouble

1 Feature From The Bleachers

There’s a sky full of bubble trouble. Of the approximately 2,880 football players in camps around the NFL, 480 of them will be cut 13 days from today, on August 26th. That leaves a lot of personnel for GM John Dorsey and staff to sort through to see if there are any players worth acquiring to make the Chiefs world a better place. And, it’s a lot of bubble trouble for those players who don’t get re-signed by a team.

However, that’s nothing compared to what happens four short days after that, on August 30th (two days after the final preseason game). On that date, another 704 NFL hopefuls will be cut to get each team down to the mandatory 53 man roster.

So, bubble trouble is everywhere but, the Kansas City Chiefs have their own bubble trouble to worry about.

John Dorsey and Andy Reid have created a system of competition and have remained true to it, from day one. This system, while often just verbal fodder during the regimes of other GMs and head coaches, has allowed the Kansas City Chiefs to develop a deeper roster than they’ve had since the days of Marty Schottenheimer.

A year ago, this is when John Dorsey showed the cheering Chiefs’ multitudes his greatness by moving in to pick up CBs Ron Parker and Marcus Cooper as well as TE Sean McGrath. Chiefs Guard Rishaw Johnson was picked up on September 3rd, the week before the 2013 season began and is now in a dogfight to see who starts at RG, as much as he’s in a fight to make the roster.

For Chiefs fans to get used to cheering for a team that is perennially contending, they’ll also have to come to appreciate that ex-Chief players will be similarly picked off the waiver wire and then contribute, or star for, other NFL teams.

In the mean time, there are a number of players who are about to have their hopes smashed when their bubble trouble bubble pops in their faces. So who are these players?

Running Backs in question: Cyrus Gray and Joe McKnight

With the Chiefs set to carry four running backs into the regular season, Cyrus Gray looks like the odd man out. Jamaal Charles, Knile Davis, De’Anthony Thomas and Anthony Sherman gives the Chiefs a dynamic running corp. JC is obviously one of the best in the NFL and perhaps the best all-round back in the game. Knile Davis got almost all of the second string touches last season and emerged at the end of the year playing an excellent game vs. the Chargers in week 17. Anthony Sherman was traded for last year when the Chiefs sent Javier Arenas to the Arizona Cardinals and his work often paved the way for many of Jamaal Charles runs.

Gray was drafted in the 6th round two years ago and has had a good camp but may not even be better than Charcandrick West or Joe McKnight. West appears destined for the practice squad and both McKnight and Gray appear to be in deep bubble trouble.

Bubble Trouble: Cyrus Gray and Joe McKnight

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Offensive Linemen in question: Rishaw Johnson, Eric Kush, J’Marcus Webb, Jeff Linkenbach, Ricky Henry, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and Ryan McKee.

I figure the following six players are a lock to make the Chiefs 8 OL slots leaving two open slots: LT Eric Fisher, LG Jeff Allen, C Rodney Hudson, RG Zach Fulton, RT Donald Stephenson and Ryan Harris. That leaves two spots for Rishaw Johnson, Eric Kush, J’Marcus Webb, Jeff Linkenbach, Ricky Henry and Ryan McKee.

The only possible change to the starting rotation could be if Ryan Harris sneaks in there. He’s experienced and was a tremendous pick up for the Chiefs. If Andy Reid is true to his word by playing the “five best linemen” then Harris would be in that group, as far as I’m concerned.

Five months ago I wrote a piece called, “Meet The Chiefs New Right Guard” focusing on Rishaw Johnson but since that time the Chiefs have drafted an up and coming Guard in Zach Fulton and signed Ryan Harris on July 23rd, a player who has played in 78 games with Denver and Houston. Ryan is good enough to start at RT and if he succeeds then Stephenson could continue to serve in his role as a swing Tackle which gave him plenty of snaps last season. Ryan Harris should be part of the top six linemen  with an inside track to make the team which leaves a number of other players vying for just two spots assuming the Chiefs keep eight.

One of those spots is likely to go to Eric Kush who showed up to camp this year with extra muscle mass and when I visited camp was noticeably bigger than a year ago and like both Catapano and Bailey who showed up to camp bigger too, he hasn’t appeared to lose any speed in the process. The reason one of the spots might go to Kush though, has little to do with his physique as much as it does his flexibility to play both Center and Guard. Coach Reid has moved several players over to the Center position throughout training camp to see who might be able to handle those challenges if needed. Kush however, is already versed in the position and did a good job in the San Diego game at the end of last season.

A few days ago, Andy Reid was quoted as saying Ricky Henry was a “dirt bag” kind of guy. At this time of year Andy Reid can be heard saying a variety of sorted comments about his players up and down the roster. He’s made it clear that every player will get their fair share of time playing the preseason games so that if they don’t make the team they’ll have enough solid “game tape” to show other teams. Coach Reid is a ‘Jedi Mind Master of the Media’ when it comes to saying the memorable, which in turn improves the value of his players. Ask yourself, where is Kevin Kolb today? Where is A.J. Feeley? Reid made each of them look pretty darn good at one point in their careers. Good enough to sell them as gold to teams that took them in only to find fool’s gold. And GM John Dorsey is familiar with this practice as well making QB Matt Flynn a valuable commodity at the end of the 2012 season.

In this case, Reid’s words will not save Ricky Henry his job with the Chiefs but it may get him a look-see from another team. If the Chiefs keep Kush to back up at the Center and Guard positions then they’ll likely take Linkenbach or Webb to fill the 8th OL spot because they can both offer outside help at the Tackle positions.

Laurent Duvernay-Tardif is full of potential and is as good a candidate to make the practice squad as anyone. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him snatched off the practice squad because he has great potential but it would likely be by a team who has their offensive line set and can afford to give LDT a roster spot and bet on his rapid development for next season.

Bubble Trouble: Rishaw Johnson, Ricky Henry and Ryan McKee.

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Wide Receivers in question are, Frankie Hammond, Weston Dressler, Mark Harrison, Fred Williams, Darryl Surgent, Deon Anthony and Jerrell Jackson.

The receivers who appear to have an inside track on making the roster include Dwayne Bowe, Donnie Avery, Junior Hemingway, A.J. Jenkins, Albert Wilson and Kyle Williams.

When I met fellow AA writers Stacy D. Smith, Lyle Graversen and Ben Nielsen at Chiefs camp 10 days ago, each of us commented on how high schoolish Weston Dressler looked. Someone said, “He looks like a boy playing a man’s game.” Although he is similar in size to De’Anthony Thomas, Dressler didn’t flash any of the moves or speed we’d read about in the Canadian Football league. I don’t expect him to stick.

Frankie Hammond has had a very good camp. If anyone out of the remaining WRs are to crack the group of six wideouts that the Chiefs will likely carry, it could be Hammond. Then the question becomes, who would Hammond displace? Kyle Williams has had a very good camp and I can see him vying for snaps at the slot receiver position throughout the regular season. At 6’1” Hammond has three inches on Kyle Williams but unless he does something special in the next two preseason games, it looks like Williams is in and Dressler, Hammond and the rest of the WR hopefuls are going home.

The only other player who I think has a chance, not necessarily to make the roster this year, but to land on the practice squad, is Mark Harrison, an undrafted free agent out of Rutgers. Harrison has shown a very good move at the line of scrimmage to free himself from the defender, and then runs good routes. Plus, he seems to have good hands. At 6’3” and 235 lbs. he would be great to develop and use as a replacement WR, if someone goes down.

Bubble Trouble: Frankie Hammond, Weston Dressler, Mark Harrison, Fred Williams, Darryl Surgent, Deon Anthony and Jerrell Jackson.

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While the quarterback battle has been for the backup to the backup neither Tyler Bray or Aaron Murray has done anything yet to distinguish themselves.

The tight ends are set to go with Anthony Fasano, Travis Kelce and Demetrius Harris. No need to hash over bubble troubles here.

On Saturday I’ll go over those who are in bubble trouble on the defense and special teams.

What do you think Addict fans? Anyone on offense who you think should be in bubble trouble who hasn’t been mentioned?

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