KC Chiefs roster battles to watch vs Saints in preseason opener

The Chiefs play the Saints in the preseason opener on Sunday. Here are some key roster battles to watch.

Jul 28, 2023; St. Joseph, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Kekoa Crawford (89) runs the
Jul 28, 2023; St. Joseph, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Kekoa Crawford (89) runs the / Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
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Tight end roster battle: Blake Bell (81) vs Matt Bushman (49)

The Chiefs were among the league leaders in three tight end sets last season, so this is a camp battle that could result in real playing time when the season begins. At this point, it appears that Travis Kelce and Noah Gray will be numbers 1 and 2 on the depth chart. Currently, Jody Fortson is nursing a shoulder injury and we don't know what his status for the start of the season will be. It's possible that Fortson could end up on IR or possibly even be released if the Chiefs just don't think he'll ever put it all together.

All of that means that the winner of the Blake Bell vs Matt Bushman battle could see meaningful snaps at the start of the season. This is Bell's fourth year in KC and the 9-year NFL veteran has been a solid blocking tight end for KC in the past. Some thought that with the Chiefs not rostering a true fullback this season that Bell could be first up to play some of those H-back snaps in place of the fullback, but thus far in camp that role has gone to Gray. That leaves the Belldozer competing for a backup role.

While Bell may have the advantage in experience and inline blocking, it has been Matt Bushman who has turned some heads as a pass-catching option in camp so far. Bushman signed with the Raiders as a UDFA coming out of BYU in 2021 and then was on the Chiefs practice squad last season. Bushman was Zach Wilson's most reliable pass catcher in college and his scouting reports all said he was a solid blocker with reliable hands that has some ability to make some plays in the passing game.

During the two days I was at camp, Bushman actually appeared to be running ahead of Bell in a lot of the drills so it will be interesting to see how they are used in the first preseason game. Will Bell's veteran status keep him off the field in the 2nd half or will he be out there with 3rd and 4th stringers? When will Bushman get into the game and will he look like a reliable weapon when he's out there? If he's out there in the 2nd half when most of the talented WRs are done for the day it's possible he could see several looks. Both of these two could see multiple snaps on special teams as well.

Next up, let's look at some offensive tackles.