When it comes to making some of the final, difficult decisions for the Chiefs’ 53-man roster, defensive coordinator Bob Sutton and special teams coach Dave Toub do not engage in fisticuffs.
“Dave’s a lot bigger than I am and I don’t mess with him,” Sutton said with a smile.
That doesn’t mean assistant coaches always agree on personnel who spend practice time on special teams as well as offense or defense, and Thursday’s preseason finale against the Packers at Arrowhead Stadium will shape the 53-man roster.
The fourth preseason game mostly involves the depth chart below the starters. Third quarterback Tyler Bray gets the start and the rest of the playing time will go to Aaron Murray, fourth on the depth chart, and Kevin Hogan, who is fifth.
Thursday is about working on depth and showcasing others who won’t make the team.
Teams have until Saturday at 3 p.m. to reduce rosters to 53.
“Obviously you’re not going to keep everybody,” Chiefs Coach Andy Reid said. “But it gives you an opportunity as a player to get yourself on tape. And then if you don’t make it here, you have an opportunity to make it somewhere else.”
A reserve quarterback — Bray or Murray — figures to be one of those players. The addition of Nick Foles to be Alex Smith’s top backup plus the drafting of Stanford’s Kevin Hogan has overpopulated the position, and recent injuries to the Cowboys’ Tony Romo and Vikings’ Teddy Bridgewater, means teams are in the market.
Bray or Murray hasn’t thrown a pass in a regular-season game, and Bray sat out the previous two preseason games after suffering a neck injury in the opener.
At other positions, special teams ability could make the difference in making the roster. Toub’s counsel will be sought in some tie-breaking scenarios.
“If we have two guys that are close, special teams could be the deciding factor,” Toub said. “I’m going to give my point of view and then they’ll weigh it accordingly, depending on how many players we have at the position, and who’s going to be up and active every week.
“All those factors come into play. I’ll definitely give my two cents, for sure.”
The Chiefs list Tyreek Hill as the starting punt returner, ahead of De’Anthony Thomas. Knile Davis is listed as the starting kick returner with Hill second. Frankie Hammond is third on both teams.
Hill, a rookie, Thomas and Hammond are wide receivers. Will they all be around for the Chiefs’ regular-season opener on Sept. 11?
Thursday’s action will be considered in roster moves, but it’s been an evaluation process that started months ago.
“They’re not making the decision based off just this week,” Sutton said. “It’s an accumulative decision from OTAs and all the way through. There have been a lot of players that have been looked at. Certainly you can stand out and not do well and that influences the final decision. But I like to think most of them have been made over a long period of time.”
Thursday’s game also gives the Chiefs an opportunity to observe newly acquired cornerback Kenneth Acker, who started 13 games for the 49ers last season.
What won’t be seen is playing time for veterans Jamaal Charles, Tamba Hali and Eric Berry. All have returned to practice, Berry just this week after signing his franchise tender.
Hali and Charles, coming off knee injuries, have been practicing, and the regular season opener is the target return time.
“It looks like every day they’re getting a little bit better,” Reid said. “They’re moving around pretty good and they’re getting a lot of work, which is important.”