The Kansas City Chiefs have made it through training camp and are nearly through the full preseason slate of games. Only a third and final preseason game against the Cleveland Browns, who are set to visit on Saturday at Arrowhead, stands between the team and the official start of the NFL season.
We're all quite excited to get to that home opener for multiple reasons, including the unveiling of a new championship banner, the thrill of watching Mahomes Magic in primetime, and the return of meaningful football. Before the regular season comes into view, however, the Chiefs have a bit more business to take care of.
A standout running back
The Chiefs know what they have atop the depth chart in Isiah Pacheco and Jerick McKinnon—at least they hope. It'd be great to start the season with the sort of 1-2 punch out of the backfield that helped close out last season down the stretch with such effective play. Behind them, Clyde Edwards-Helaire seems destined to play out his rookie deal as an experienced backup who can produce as well.
From there, however, the position holds a question mark around RB4. Deneric Prince, a rookie free agent from Tulsa, and La'Mical Perine, a third-year journeyman, have both looked like the favorite, but neither has been all that exciting against the competition. In addition, the Chiefs would have likely loved it if both had stood out so that even Edwards-Helaire might have been expendable.
Now, however, you gotta wonder if the Chiefs are interested in anyone on the outside to start the season in case McKinnon looks older, Pacheco is still tender from offseason surgery, and CEH is ineffective. Remember Prince was going to factor into the returner conversation but now that's not so sure. A strong showing against Cleveland would help sort things out.
Life along the interior
Chiefs'Speaking of positions waiting for someone to seize an opportunity, the Chiefs defensive interior is a black hole waiting for anyone to earn the coach's trust and solidify some employment for themselves.
In the wake of Chris Jones's holdout and Turk Wharton's slow return from injury, the Chiefs have a serious void to fill but no one so far has stepped up, save for Danny Shelton who has slimmed down and looks very motivated. The problem here is that he's a run-stuffing big body who plays the same role as returning starter Derrick Nnadi and sixth-round rookie Keondre Coburn.
What the Chiefs could use is one of their 3-techs to show that he can produce behind Jones and Wharton, but none of the other players in camp have really produced much at all. Maybe Daniel Wise or Phil Hoskins are capable of more, as the next guys up on the depth chart, but at this point, some outside help is needed—that is, unless someone steps up versus the Browns.
An injury-free afternoon
Even if the Chiefs lose the game, look flat, or fail to see improvement from some problem areas, all will still be okay because it's the preseason. The one thing that the Chiefs want to see more than anything else, however, is an injury-free afternoon of football at Arrowhead Stadium.
So far the Chiefs have come out fairly well in terms of health. There are definite concerns on the roster, but they played sixty minutes against Arizona without any new concerns, and if they could say the same after hosting Cleveland, that would be a real gift.
For now, the Chiefs are missing Jones due to holdout and L'Jarius Sneed's knee remains too swollen to practice. Together with Turk Wharton's ongoing leg issues that keep him out for stretches, the Chiefs are missing the two best overall defenders on the team and their two best defensive tackles. Kadarius Toney's knee has him suspect for Week 1 and he was supposed to be WR1 coming into the year. Other injuries include Nic Jones (hand), Nick Allegretti (shoulder) and Nikko Remigio (shoulder).
Let's not add any more names here.