Key players going into the first preseason game
Quentin Morris @quentincmorris Chiefs Focus @Chiefsfocus
Pre-season is about filling the final spots on the roster. Many starting players will see little to no game time. Here are a few players to watch how many snaps they get and how productive they are with their snaps.
Isaiah Pacheco, a rookie running back out of Rutgers. Pacheco was a seventh round draft pick and has received a lot of hype from the media and Chiefs for his work on special teams. He has been the specialist returner for the Chiefs in training camp. If he proves his worth to special teams coach Dave Toub he could find his way onto the roster as the third running back and primary returner. His live action test will start this weekend.
Jaylen Watson, Joshua Williams and Nazeeh Johnson are all later round 2022 draft picks. With the release of Deandre Baker earlier this week that shows the Chiefs are confident in their corner back room but the order on the depth chart will be defined by the play in the three preseason games.
The last group of players to watch is the wide receiver group. There are four players that are guaranteed a spot on the roster. Those four guys are Mecole Hardman, Juju Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Skyy Moore. After that there are only going to be one or two spots left.
This is an opportunity for the young guys to show off their skill set. Players like Cornell Powell Daurice Fountain and Justin Watson should get plenty of playing time. All of these guys have some highlight plays in training camp but it’s different when you are going against other players that are hitting you for their jobs.
Between the corner backs and wide receivers it’s important for them to make an impact on special teams. The Chiefs lost Marcus Kemp, Daniel Sorensen, both guys that played significant snaps on special teams. The players that show off in this game may have an advantage going into the other two preseason games.
There are more than rookies to watch in the upcoming game. Carlos Dunlap may get limited snaps but what he is able to produce in the new system will be important to see. By Saturday Dunlap will be on the team for a little over a week. This means whatever work he is able to get in will be vital for him. It’s also a chance to show off to his new team.
Josh Gordon is a unique player on the roster bubble. He has spent time on the roster but still has not spent significant time running with the first team. On top of that Gordon has not spent time running with the special team group. If he does that gives him a better chance to make the roster. If he does not, that will put him on the outside looking in.
The reason for that is if the Chiefs have the opportunity to pick between two wide receivers one of them has shown the ability to be a gunner on the punt team and one doesn’t bring anything to the special team group the gunner is more valuable to the team, thus will make the team.