Five things to watch in Saturday’s Chiefs-Vikings preseason game

08/22/2014 4:13 PM

08/22/2014 4:13 PM

1. Score a touchdown

The Chiefs’ first-string offense moved the ball some against the Panthers, but only came away with two long field goals. That’s not going to cut it this week, especially since the starters are expected to play into the third quarter. Of course, it would be much easier if Jamaal Charles and Dwayne Bowe were playing, but the standard doesn’t change just because those guys might not play.

2. Improvement from Davis

The Chiefs will lean a ton on Charles this season, which means he’ll certainly have his share of dings and dents. That’s why it will be important for Knile Davis to firmly establish himself as a reliable No. 2 back capable of breaking a handful of big plays from the running-back position. He’s already done it on special teams — now he needs to show he can do it at his primary position. He could take a step forward by getting upfield faster against the Vikings; there was a little too much East and West stuff against the Panthers.

3. Discipline

The Chiefs committed 13 penalties for 131 yards against the Panthers on Sunday, compared to only four penalties for 32 yards for Carolina. In a league where teams are so evenly matched, that’s an easy way to lose games. The Chiefs have to do a better job of staying disciplined with their technique, both on the offensive line and in the secondary.

4. Who plays right tackle?

Chiefs tackle Donald Stephenson was suspended for the first four games of the season on Friday for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs. He is still eligible to practice and play during the preseason but the Chiefs will be holding an audition for his replacement in the final two preseason games. Starting left guard Jeff Allen has gotten more work at right tackle in training camp and could be an option which Ricky Henry or Jeff Linkenbach taking his place with the starters at left guard. Other backups on the roster who could get a look at right tackle are Ryan Harris, Linkenbach and J’Marcus Webb.

5. Who will start next to DJ?

Inside linebacker Joe Mays had wrist surgery, so it’s unclear how long he’ll be out. It’s also unclear who his replacement will be in the base 3-4 defense. Nico Johnson, James-Michael Johnson and Josh Mauga have been serving as the top backups, but Mauga has been dealing with a shoulder injury. Regardless, this opens the door for one of them to show what they can do with the first team.

To reach Terez A. Paylor, call 816-234-4489 or send email to tpaylor@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter: @TerezPaylor.

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