Preseason Game 1: Saturday’s keys for the Chiefs

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The NFL returned on Sunday evening when the Pittsburgh Steelers and Minnesota Vikings filed into Tom Benson Stadium for the annual Hall of Fame game. The Kansas City Chiefs follow suit, Saturday night in Glendale, where they’ll meet up with the Arizona Cardinals. Every year, pundits debate the merits of the NFL preseason. Some think it’s a valuable opportunity for teams to establish momentum for the regular season. Others will tell you that it’s little more than a four-week audition for the back half of a team’s 90-man offseason roster. I tend to believe it’s a little of both. With that in mind, I’m hoping to see a few things when the Chiefs and Cardinals square off this weekend.

Before we dive headlong into my “keys” for Saturday’s game, I think it’s necessary for me to manage expectations. The offensive line situation is fluid at the moment. Camp reports suggest there have been lots of movement at center, right guard, and right tackle. It’s still unknown which five players will get first-team snaps in the game, so I’ll focus on the two spots left of center. Second- and third-year players will also be a focus of mine on Saturday. The maturation of young players is a prerequisite for the Chiefs to take another step forward in year three of the new regime.

I have a short list of things I’d like to see on Saturday night but, allow me to clarify my intent. I’m not expecting to see players in regular-season form. Snaps are likely going to be limited for a number of key figures on the team. This weekend, I’ll only be looking for signs of progress. That’s all anyone, the coaching staff included, can ask of the budding players on the squad. Progress can be difficult to measure in contests where both head coaches trot out vanilla schemes, but I think we can still take cues from what will happen in the game. Let’s get started.

Next: Starting with the offensive side...