The Chiefs’ first-team offense played one series in the preseason opener against the 49ers last weekend. That changes on Saturday at Cincinnati, where quarterback Alex Smith and the starters could get the entire first half. Expect more of a running game, and on the defensive side, a takeaway or two would be an encouraging sign from the team that led the NFL in that department in 2016. The game kicks off at 6 p.m., and will be televised by KCTV (Channel 5). The radio broadcast is on KCFX (101.1 FM).
Quarterbacks, Take 2
Quarterback watching has become a thing in Kansas City. Oh, every game is about the quarterback, but the story became different this season after the Chiefs drafted Patrick Mahomes. Now there’s a buzz about the position, and not just because Mahomes has had a solid camp and threw a touchdown in last week’s preseason opener. His presence seems to have pushed starter Alex Smith, who also was terrific in camp and drove the offense to a score on the opening drive last weekend. Andy Reid said Smith will get the first half, Mahomes the third quarter and Tyler Bray the fourth. Mahomes moved in front of Bray on the depth chart earlier this week.
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First plays: Chuckin’ Chiefs
Expect the Bengals to be on high alert on the first snap for each quarterback. Against the 49ers, each Chiefs quarterback launched a deep attempt. Smith hit Tyreek Hill for 32 yards, Bray’s 83-yard connection to Chris Conley was negated by Conley’s offensive pass interference penalty, Mahomes hit Demarcus Robinson for a 41-yard gain, a play that was nullified by a holding penalty, and Joel Stave’s pass fell incomplete. “I wanted to give them a chance to get it down the field,” Reid said.
The Chiefs emphasized passing last week. Look for more attention to the running game. In the opener the Chiefs rushed a mere 14 times for 31 yards. Spencer Ware bulled in for a touchdown, but after an Alex Smith 10-yard scramble, the longest rushing play of the night was a 5-yard gain from C.J. Spiller. Rookie Kareem Hunt got one attempt last week. Look for everybody’s rushing totals to increase, but the veteran Spiller, impressive in camp, could be the player with the most at stake during this audition.
It’s what’s up front that counts
Allen Bailey and Rakeem Nunez-Roches were a wall on the interior last week. Three expected to play regularly on the defensive line — Chris Jones, Bennie Logan and Roy Miller — didn’t suit up, and their status is uncertain for Saturday’s game. But the tackle/end group looks encouraging no matter who’s on the field.
The Chiefs, who led the NFL in takeaways in 2016, didn’t get an interception or fumble recovery against the 49ers. The first team defense is expected to play longer on Saturday who look for a turnovers. In descending order this is the likelihood of the takeaway: Marcus Peters interception, Justin Houston sack/strip, Derrick Johnson deflected interception. The Chiefs turned it over twice against the 49ers.