It’s halftime at Arrowhead Stadium, and the Chiefs lead the Bengals 27-24 in their NFL preseason opener Thursday night. Here are some quick observations.
*Tight end Travis Kelce, who’d missed much of last season because of injuries, looked healthy on a 69-yard touchdown catch and run that gave the Chiefs the halftime lead.
*Two of the Chiefs’ biggest areas of concern cost them early on, as the secondary — namely cornerback Ron Parker — yielded a couple of big plays, and the offensive line yielded a strip-sack of Alex Smith. Eric Fisher, who is making his debut at left tackle, didn’t get beat terribly by Robert Geathers but he still yielded the sack that helped Cincinnati jump out to a 10-0 lead.
*This might be the night that cornerback Sean Smith wins his job back. After Parker was beaten for a 53-yard completion by A.J. Green and a touchdown on a short slant by Brandon Tate, Smith jumped a short route and picked off quarterback Jason Campbell for a 36-yard return for a touchdown. Smith, who was demoted to the second team following his June citation for allegedly driving under the influence, even punctuated the return with a little Deion Sanders strut — a sign he was surely happy with himself.
*A couple of skill-position rookies showcased the kind of explosiveness that has caught everyone’s attention during training camp. First it was receiver Albert Wilson, who broke a 65-yard kick return in which he cut across the field and showed plenty of burst. Then came running back De’Anthony Thomas, who took a punt return 80 yards for a touchdown. Thomas showed elusiveness by spinning away from the pack and great speed the rest of the way — he never came close to getting caught from behind.
*Rookie cornerback Phillip Gaines and rookie outside linebacker Dee Ford showed off their speed on back-to-back plays in the second quarter. Gaines stuck with a receiver on a deep route down the sideline and forced the incompletion, while Ford racked up a quarterback hit and hurry on the very next play. Gaines also racked up a pass deflection later on in the quarter on a similar route.