The Kansas City Chiefs have one more pre-season game on the road Thursday night in Green Bay and then they must get their roster down from its current level of 80 players to the regular season size of 53. To see the moves they made on Monday, click here.
Today I’ll look at the players I think Head Coach Todd Haley will keep on offense. Since I cannot predict players that might be released from other teams that the Chiefs could grab in free agency, I will concentrate on the players that are actually on the current roster.
However … that won’t keep me from BEGGING the Chiefs to try and bolster the team in some places with free agents!
Quarterbacks (they’ll keep 3): In: Matt Cassel, Tyler Palko, Ricky Stanzi. Out:None.
Cassel will be the starter and Palko will be the #2 guy, with Stanzi being the “3rd quarterback” every week. Chiefs fans need to say a little prayer every week that Matt Cassel stays healthy because if Palko or Stanzi is pressed into service, this team is in trouble. Like … “Brodie Croyle as a starter” kind of trouble. With only 40 preseason snaps under his belt, Cassel is as rusty as a 1968 Trans Am on cinder blocks in a Raytown front yard. He needs to play at least half the game against the Packers to try and develop some kind of timing and rhythm under game conditions.
Palko played OK against the Rams last week, but am I the only one who thinks his arm looks really weak? A couple of his throws looked more like he was throwing a shot put rather than a football. Stanzi is simply not ready to play football at the NFL level, but he has potential … in 2014.
This is one area where the Chiefs could try to bring in a veteran presence to back up Cassel. Unfortunately, barring anyone decent getting cut by another team, there is no one I can see that would be any better than Palko. There was a rumor floating around the NFL for a couple of days when training camp started that the Arizona Cardinals would try to talk Kurt Warner out of retirement to play for them because their QB situation was so bad. But the Cards made the trade for Kevin Kolb and that talk died down. Hmmmm … I wonder how Trent Green’s head is feeling these days?
Running Back (5): In: Jamaal Charles, Thomas Jones, Le’Ron McClain, Jackie Battle, Dexter McCluster. Out: Shane Bannon, Mike Cox.
By far the most solid spot on the team and with the addition of McClain, one of the deepest. Charles will battle for the league rushing title again this year and is the most valuable player on the team. Jones will maintain his steady locker-room presence but will see his number of carries drop this year, partly due to Charles getting a few more than last year, and partly because McClain will steal some too. It will be interesting to see if Haley and O-Coordinator, Bill Muir, continue to use McCluster like they’ve used him in the pre-season. McCluster has been one of the only bright spots on offense for the Chiefs. “Butterfingers Battle” won’t be seeing many carries since he cannot seem to hang onto the ball, but he is a special teams stud.
Wide Receivers (6): In: Dwayne Bowe, Steve Breaston, Jonathan Baldwin, Jerheme Urban, Keary Colbert, Verran Tucker. Out: Jeremy Horne, Terrance Copper, Zeke Markshausen.
After the first two exhibition games, I would have bet that Urban would have gotten cut, but he redeemed himself a little in the Rams game. Of all the players on my “In” list, he’s hanging on by the thinnest thread. Then again, he’s one of Haley’s former Cardinals, so maybe his thread isn’t as thin as I think it is.
Bowe and Breaston are rock-solid locks to be the top two receivers coming out of camp. MMA fighter wanna-be, Jon Baldwin, will recover from the broken thumb he got in his “not-a-fight” wrestling match with Thomas Jones, but it might be October before he starts to make a difference for KC. Colbert seemingly has done everything the Chiefs want him to do and is certainly a no-lose player for the Chiefs. When he left USC after the 2003 season, he was the Trojans all-time leading receiver and was drafted in the second round by the Carolina Panthers. Is rookie year saw him step up with 47 receptions, 754 yards and 5 touchdowns when Steve Smith went down with an injury. After that, he dropped off the face of the earth, crumbling under huge expectations. He’s only 29, so maybe a big fat dose of humility will get him on the right path?
Tight Ends (3):In: Tony Moeaki, Leonard Pope, Cody Slate. Out: Jake O’Connell, Charlie Gantt.
Let’s put it this way, Cody Slate’s terrific touchdown catch in the Rams game was one highlight more than anything Jake O’Connell has done with the Chiefs that I can remember. O’Connell’s ankle injury might make him a casualty of the final roster cuts.
Oh … and Moeaki? If he stays healthy and on the field for 16 games, he might catch 70 passes with 700 yards for this team. Cassel may look to him a lot this season.
Offensive Line (8): In:Branden Albert, Jon Asomoah, Jared Gaither, Rodney Hudson, Butch Lewis, Ryan Lilja, Barry Richardson, Casey Wiegmann. Out: Darryl Harris, Bobby Greenwood, Chris Harr, Mike Ingersoll, Lucas Patterson, David Mims. On Injured Reserve: Ryan O’Callahan (out for the season).
Not gonna lie … I wish Brian Waters was still here, especially if he could have handled a back-up role.
The starting line-up against the Bills looks to be Albert, Lilja, Wiegmann, Asomoah and Richardson which is OK, except Richardson doesn’t exactly float my boat with his play. He is more suited to be a back-up. Richardson’s position at right tackle is the ONE place I hope Haley and general manager, Scott Pioli, can work some magic and add a veteran through free agency when the other teams make their cuts. With all the cap space the Chiefs have to spend, I’d even like to see them overspend a little if they can give this offensive line some depth and get a real right tackle.
Before the Rams game last week, I would have bet you a mortgage payment that Jared Gaither wouldn’t take a snap for this team before November. But there he was playing ok … rusty, but ok. I was just shocked that he could make it onto the field because up in St. Joe at training camp, I wasn’t sure he could walk to the locker rooms even when he just rode a stationary bike during practice. Gaither has off-the-charts talent, but a bad back and some motivation issues made the Ravens cut him loose as soon as the lockout was over. The fact that Gaither flunked the Raiders team physical a month ago doesn’t fill me with confidence. However, should Haley and the coaching staff get this guy healthy and motivated, the Chiefs might have stolen a Pro Bowl talent. Yes folks … Gaither could be that good!
If there is one guy I wouldn’t mind the Chiefs keeping on the roster after he made my “Out” list, it’s Chris Mims. The guy is a monster. I’m sure the Chiefs will try to get him through waivers and put him on the practice squad, but sometimes that doesn’t work out for the Chiefs. It’s what happened to local-boy, Ryan Lilja, a few years ago when the Colts stole him away from the Chiefs. Lilja just went out and started at guard for two Super Bowl teams. Yeah … no big loss there, right?
Friday, I will try to predict what players will make it on the defense and special teams.
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