Red Zone

August 7, 2014

Chiefs blitz: The good, bad and ugly from Thursday’s preseason opener

A look at the good, bad and ugly from the Chiefs’ 41-39 victory on Thursday night against the Cincinnati Bengals in the preseason opener at Arrowhead Stadium.

Red Zone

The Chiefs and NFL by beat writer Terez Paylor

Do tell the truth

1. First things first, does any of this matter?

Yes, but only to a point. Preseason games give coaches an opportunity to evaluate all of their backups against live competition. Many of the guys you saw in the second half won’t ever have a meaningful moment in the NFL, but a handful of them will — and these games are about identifying who those guys might be.

2. With that out of the way, which backups made the best impression?

A lot of youngsters made a positive impression. Give it up for rookie running back De’Anthony Thomas, receiver Albert Wilson, cornerback Phillip Gaines, outside linebacker Dee Ford, linebacker James-Michael Johnson and tight end Travis Kelce. Thomas had a dynamite 80-yard punt return, Wilson had a 65-yard kick return, Gaines broke up a couple of deep passes, Ford flashed impressive closing speed while racking up a quarterback hit, Johnson showed some good coverage ability and closing speed in the nickel, and Kelce broke a 69-yard touchdown in which he caught a short pass and outran a cluster of defensive backs to the end zone.

3. On the other hand, did anybody struggle?

It can be tough to criticize anybody without the benefit of the coaching tape and the players’ assignments, but cornerback Ron Parker certainly had a rough night. Star receiver A.J. Green beat him for a 53-yard gain early in the first quarter, and Brandon Tate beat him on a short slant for a touchdown. He was also whistled for illegal contact. His spot on the team is likely secure but it wasn’t the showing he hoped for. Quarterback Chase Daniel also had a bad interception in which he floated a pass over Kelce’s head, but he bounced back to complete eight of 10 passes for 126 yards and a touchdown.

4. Did Sean Smith earn his starting job back?

Maybe. Smith, who was demoted to the second unit following his June arrest, really made a great play in the second quarter when he jumped a short route, picked off the pass by Jason Campbell and high-stepped into the end zone for a 36-yard interception return. Smith has bouts of inconsistency but he was still their the Chiefs’ best cornerback last season, and Parker’s struggles on Thursday — at Smith’s position, right cornerback — might have helped him earn his job back.

5. Can the Chiefs really keep four quarterbacks?

Sure, but it seems unlikely. Alex Smith is a lock, and as a fifth-round pick, Aaron Murray probably should be. That leaves Tyler Bray and Daniel, but to be honest, their fates are in their own hands. If both play well this preseason, the Chiefs could be hard-pressed to part with either one of them. If one of them struggles, they will find themselves on the roster bubble. Period.

The number

30 — On Friday, the number of days until real football begins for the Chiefs, who kick off the regular season at home on Sept. 7 against the Tennessee Titans.

To reach Terez A. Paylor, call 816-234-4489 or send email to Follow him on Twitter: @TerezPaylor

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