Chiefs need contributions from veterans and rookies

Dec 14, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs outside linebacker Tamba Hali (91) celebrates with linebacker Dee Ford (55) after a sack against the Oakland Raiders in the second half at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs won 31-13. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 14, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs outside linebacker Tamba Hali (91) celebrates with linebacker Dee Ford (55) after a sack against the Oakland Raiders in the second half at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs won 31-13. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports /
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As the Kansas City Chiefs draw closer to their first preseason game, players are settling into practice and opening eyes.

The Chiefs have a couple of players that they need to step up and produce this season in order to get the results they are expecting. There are several players each at different points in their careers that Kansas City must rely on to be a big part of their success in the AFC West.

With Peyton Manning retired and Brock Osweiler signing a big deal in Houston the Broncos are no longer the team to beat in the West. Kansas City is in a prime position to take over the division but their biggest test may come from an up and coming Oakland Raiders team.

One of the offensive line veterans that must step forward for the Chiefs to succeed is Eric Fisher. Fresh off a new contract extension that makes him one of the highest paid LT’s in the league he has a lot still to prove to the fan base and the franchise. Fisher may never live up to his draft status but in my eyes he’s never been a bust either. Consistency week in and week out is something that he must produce if the Chiefs are going to contend for a Lombardi trophy in February.

Fisher has the size and speed to be able to handle the fast rushers on the QB’s blind side but he as lacked the strength to anchor and lock down opponents trying to bowl him over. If Eric can take a couple more steps forward from his play the last 11 games of the season last year, the Chiefs offensive line should be good with bookend tackles.

Unfortunately for Kansas City another player they have to rely on this season is Parker Ehringer. I’m not saying he isn’t capable of playing well as he should fit their scheme very well. What is concerning is that he will have to learn on the job with trial under fire.

A fifth-round rookie starting on your OL isn’t going to be the best circumstance but the Chiefs have shown a knack for drafting interior lineman that most aren’t even considering (think Mitch Morse), and pulling out a diamond.

The best situation for Ehringer if he had to start would be to start next between two established veterans that were able to help bring him along. While Fisher is the oldest piece of the line he’s not well established, and while Morse was fantastic last year he is still going into his second season. Ehringer will be tested early and often especially with stunts that have really hampered this line over the past couple of seasons.


On defense there are multiple players that must step up if Kansas City’s defense is going to remain dominant. First and fore-most the Chiefs are going to need to be able to put pressure on the QB. With Justin Houston out the most important veteran that has to stay healthy and play at a very high level is Tamba Hali who has yet to practice in camp.

While Hali’s numbers have dropped over the past couple of seasons his motor has not. He is always going to be playing as hard as he can, unfortunately for KC that is not enough in the past couple of seasons. Hali must be able to put pressure on the passer with Houston out and he has to be more effective than in previous seasons.

If Tamba can’t be as effective as he was a couple of years ago then the Chiefs have to hope that Dee Ford has learned enough over his first two seasons to take a major step forward. Known for his first step, Ford’s recognition improved in the second half of last season but his ability to use multiple moves has not.

Kansas City has to hope that he has added additional strength and has developed better hand fighting skills over the offseason to help lessen the blow of being without Justin Houston. The absence of both Hali and Houston has given the young OLB’s behind them many more reps than they would normally receive and should help their development.

Obviously not having Eric Berry will make the secondary play harder to replicate from last year. The loss of Sean Smith, Husain Abdullah and Tyvon Branch are going to make the play of the secondary very hard to duplicate as well.

Kansas City has three young rookies that have to show they are ready to play in the NFL. KeiVarae Russell, D.J. White, and Eric Murray must step into difficult roles and play at a very high level early. While none of the three should be starters early in the season at CB or at safety, I expect all three will play significant time depending on the scheme.

I will also be live tweeting from training camp Saturday and Sunday. You can follow me at @ChrisClarkNFL.

What do you think, Addicts? Who are some of your players that must step up this season?