The Chiefs will square off against Los Angeles at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Los Angeles Coliseum in their second preseason game. It will be on Ch. 5 and 101.1 FM. Here are five things to keep an eye on.
1. How will Nick Foles fare against his old team?
It’s been a week or so since HBO aired Los Angeles Rams coach Jeff Fisher’s final conversation with Foles on “Hard Knocks.” In it, the veteran coach opened the discussion by asking about Foles’ offseason, then suddenly telling him the club was releasing him. Foles eventually took less money to reunite with Chiefs coach Andy Reid and serve as the club’s No. 2 quarterback. After a disappointing 2015 season with the Rams in which he completed only 56 percent of his passes and threw seven touchdowns and 10 interceptions, Foles should play the entire third quarter to show his former staff if he’s improved.
2. Will the first-string offense keep rolling under Alex Smith?
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The Chiefs’ first-string offense opened its 17-16 loss to the Seattle Seahawks in the exhibition opener last Saturday with a flurry, marching 49 yards in only eight plays on a scoring drive capped by a 1-yard touchdown by Spencer Ware. Quarterback Alex Smith, who completed 3 of 4 passes for 36 yards, impressed by spreading the ball to three different receivers and flashing some playmaking ability when he scrambled out of the pocket and found Jeremy Maclin for a 20-yard gain. Reid said Smith — who was replaced after the drive — might play the entire first half this time.
3. Will the interior pass-rushers keep hunting?
Several interior defensive linemen were among the Chiefs’ top performers last Saturday. Among them were backups Chris Jones, Niko Davis, Rakeem Nunez-Roches, David King and Nick Williams, who all feasted on the Seahawks’ backup offensive linemen. All of these guys are battling for roles — and only Jones is guaranteed a roster spot — so expect them all to turn up the heat against the Rams in their respective bids to make the 53-man roster.
4. Will the backup offensive linemen block better?
Backup offensive linemen typically struggle in the preseason because offensive-line play in the NFL is probably not as good as it once was due to a reduction in practice time after the new collective-bargaining agreement. However, the Chiefs might still like to see more out of their second- and third-team units, as players like Jarrod Pughsley, Daniel Munyer, Reid Fragel and Garrick Mayweather all had some issues against the Seahawks, whether it was in run blocking, pass blocking or with penalties. Each of them could use a nice performance against the Rams to boost their respective bids for a roster spot.
5. How will the edge rushers do?
All eyes are on Dee Ford this season, and a few times last Saturday, Ford lost containment against the run — something the man he’s replacing, Justin Houston, is terrific at doing. Even Reid hinted Ford could have played better against the Seahawks. “I’m not going to tell you he had his best game — that’s not what I’m going to do,” Reid said. So Ford could use a nice effort against the Rams to restore some faith that he can get the job done. Meanwhile, other edge rushers on the roster — such as Dez Moses and Dadi Nicolas, who each flashed against the backups on Seattle — will keep trying to play with great effort and nip at Ford’s heels.