Today is a scheduled off day for the Chiefs and then they return to practice on Friday. Things seem to be right on track for the offense as coach Andy Reid the other day said “I like the tempo we’re playing at”. If there’s one thing the Chiefs specialize in, it’s playing fast and uptempo. As the calendar turns to August in about a week, I have a few players to keep an eye on during training camp and preseason play.
1. Wide Receiver Richie James
James is a newcomer after signing a one year contract with Kansas City earlier this off-season. Last year with the New York Giants, he had career highs in catches (57), touchdowns (7), and receiving yards (569). With as many receivers as the Chiefs currently have on the depth chart, it will be interesting to see where he falls once the preseason begins. Fellow teammate Kadarius Toney had surgery on Monday to repair a partial tear in his meniscus, so James has his opportunity to ingratiate himself into the Chiefs offense. Let’s see what he can do. If I had to guess, he could potentially be the number three option once Toney returns but it remains to be seen.
2. Rookie Wide Receiver Rashee Rice
I’ve written about Rice on numerous occasions over the last few months because I am extremely high on him. If he catches onto the Chiefs’ offensive system quickly, I can see him vaulting to being the number two receiver on the depth chart sooner rather than later. This is just a glimpse of what he’s capable of. I have a high belief in this second-rounder from SMU. His athleticism is what makes him dangerous. Keep a close eye on him during the preseason Chiefs fans.
3. Rookie Defensive End Felix Anudike-Uzomah
The rookie defensive end would fit into the Chiefs’ defensive system extremely well because he fulfills their need for an edge rusher. For a defense that had eight rookies last season, they had no trouble thriving under defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo as they handled 25% of the total snaps, which means they had his trust. His specialty as a defensive coordinator is dialing up pressure on the quarterback. Anudike-Uzomah has the ability to do exactly that, as he accumulated 8.5 sacks last season at Kansas State. With some fine-tuning work in terms of improving his angle at the point of attack, he will be dangerous on KC’s defense already with a ton of up-and-coming young stars.
4. Defensive End George Karlaftis
Karlaftis is coming off an efficient rookie season with 33 total tackles and six sacks. In his press conference on Wednesday, he said “I’m excited to hit the ground running”. He’s an underrated piece on Kansas City’s defense in my opinion and he’s only going to get better the more he plays. Let’s see what he’s got this upcoming season.
As training camp has begun this week, I am excited to see what this team can do in the coming weeks and months. It’s all systems go as the Chiefs try to repeat.