Deneric Prince among players who could benefit from Chiefs camp injuries

When one man goes down, another will find his chance and that can certainly happen this preseason.

Mar 5, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Tulsa running back Deneric Prince (RB20) during the NFL Scouting
Mar 5, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Tulsa running back Deneric Prince (RB20) during the NFL Scouting / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

As the Kansas City Chiefs reported back to training camp this week to begin the work of culling through the roster to find the best 53 players with which to begin the regular season, hopeful players know they are going to need to step up in ways they never have before. Long-term dreams are on the line and the window to make an impact is only open for so long.

Early injuries to Turk Wharton and Isiah Pacheco could open the door to greater opps for some other players for the Chiefs. Wharton is still recovering from a torn ACL suffered in Week 5 last season, while Pacheco is working his way back from multiple offseason surgeries on his hand and shoulder.

Given the fact that the door is a bit more open at those posiitons, who are some of the players who could make the most of those opportunities.

Deneric Prince, RB

In the wake of the news that Isiah Pacheco might be limited coming back into Chiefs training camp as he recovers from multiple surgeries—one for a broken hand and another for a labrum issue—it only makes sense for more reps to flow down the depth chart, but one player who could truly benefit the most is the one who needs the most work: Deneric Prince

The Chiefs landed Prince as a rookie free agent out of Tulsa who has a similarly tough running style as Pacheco in the first place. Without a fullback on the roster, Prince's big body would be a nice keeper on the roster, and his pass-catching ability, which was not exhibited all that often on game tape, earned solid reviews in minicamp, which gives him the sort of versatility that will help his cause.

Last season for the Hurricanes, Prince had 126 rushes for a team-high 729 yards and 5 touchdowns on the ground. He didn't catch all that many passes out of the backfield for Tulsa, with a total of 16 catches over the last two seasons, so it will be interesting to see if the Chiefs really emphasize that angle and test him in training camp and preseason games.

There was already a golden opportunity for Prince to earn a spot on this depth chart with Jerick McKinnon likely sitting for some of camp due to age and experience, but if Pacheco is forced to miss much time or action on the field due to required recovery, Prince will be in an even better position.

Keondre Coburn, DL

Turk Wharton needs to be careful at this point. Remember he was a bit of a surprise himself as a Missouri S&T prospect who signed as a rookie free agent and showed the sort of push, effort, and ceiling to force his way onto the active roster. Following a torn ACL suffered last year, the Chiefs' decision-makers are going to need to see that same celing on the other side of a tough injury.

What will make things even tougher for Wharton is that guys like Keondre Coburn are waiting in the wings to show what they can do in the defensive interior.

Coburn is the Chiefs' sixth-round choice from this year's draft, and despite the late-round flyer, he's actually in a prime position to earn more playing time than multiple prospects selected by the team in rounds prior. Defensive tackle was already a position of need, and despite the Chiefs' best efforts to move around in the draft, Coburn was the only player taken to fill that need.

No one is projecting Coburn to turn into a serious disruptor, and here's where Wharton isn't exactly in Coburn's path, but fewer guys available up front allow others more room to breathe as it is. The Chiefs really just need to elevate their interior run defense here and Coburn is big and athletic enough to do just that. Working on his technique and timing will be paramount while Wharton is out, as coaches need to see not only where he's at after 45 starts at Texas and where he could be with more playing time.

Phil Hoskins, DL

If you're looking for a curveball of an entrant here in training camp, then Phil Hoskins is likely your guy.

Hoskins is a longshot prospect from the University of Kentucky who spent the last two seasons with the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers had an incredible 11 draft picks back in 2021 and Hoskins was the final one taken in the seventh round as a risk worth taking along the defensive interior. However they released him last winter and the Chiefs landed him shortly thereafter.

On paper, Hoskins looks like the sort of prospect who should have been drafted a bit higher knowing how well he can move given his size (6'5", 315 lbs.) along with his incredible length. That said, Hoskins has had a very difficult time even staying on the field with any consistency. Multiple shoulder injuries have taken their toll not to mention the knee injury that cost him an entire year.

Along with a suspension and community college transfer, Hoskins was already an old man entering the NFL two years ago. However when he's healthy, he's got some legitimate pass rush moves and instincts. For those who remember how Wharton flashed some surprising moves inside when he first arrived, Hoskins might hold court in a similar way in St. Joseph.