The Chiefs finish the preseason Thursday against the Packers in Green Bay. Kickoff is 6 p.m. on KCTV (Ch. 5). Here are five things to keep an eye on:
1. Battle of backup quarterbacks. The Chiefs’ starters (and most likely the Packers’ starters) will not play, leaving the game in the hands of backup quarterbacks. Chase Daniel will open the game for the Chiefs, and while he has had an uneven preseason, Daniel rises to the occasion in game situations. Tyler Bray and rookie Aaron Murray will divide the remaining three quarters, and one of the intriguing questions is: How can the Chiefs afford the luxury of carrying three, much less four quarterbacks on the 53-man roster? It’s possible that Murray, who underwent knee surgery at the end of his senior year at Georgia, could be placed on injured reserve.
2. O that line. The beleaguered starters in the offensive line will get a night off, with a possible exception being at left guard, where Jeff Linkenbach and Ricky Henry are dueling for the spot vacated by Jeff Allen’s move to right tackle. There’s still uncertainty about the backups for Allen and left tackle Eric Fisher, who did not practice this week because of illness, so journeymen Ryan Harris and J’Marcus Webb will get a long look.
3. Getting their kicks. Veteran Ryan Succop and rookie Cairo Santos have waged a daily battle on the practice fields and through three preseason games for the kicking job, and a decision has to be made on Saturday, when rosters must be pared to 53. Both have made all three of their field-goal attempts, including a 54-yarder by Succop, matching his career best, and have been solid on kickoffs. Santos’ longest field goal was 44 yards. Coach Andy Reid’s having Santos make a 21-yarder last week against Minnesota to pad his resume may have been showcasing him for a trade.
4. The receiving line. With Dwayne Bowe suspended for the regular-season opener and slot receiver Junior Hemingway battling injuries throughout preseason, the Chiefs need to identify some receiving threats for quarterback Alex Smith. Frankie Hammond Jr., a practice squad player from last year, has moved atop the depth chart opposite Donnie Avery. But veterans A.J. Jenkins and Kyle Williams need to show more, or rookie Albert Wilson could beat them out for a job.
5. Avoid injury. A key factor in the Chiefs’ surprising 11-5 season in 2013 was they were remarkably injury-free. Reid, like most head coaches, won’t risk injuries to any of his key starters, but the Chiefs could ill-afford to lose injuries to any of their valuable backups, such as Daniel, running back Knile Davis, tight end Travis Kelce or outside linebackers Dee Ford and Frank Zombo.