With the Chiefs tasked with trimming their roster from 90 to 53 men by 3 p.m. Saturday, here’s The Star’s final 53-man roster projection. I even projected some of the candidates for the 10-man practice squad — don’t hold me to these, as eligibility for the practice squad is incredibly difficult to determine. I just read the rules and did the best I could.
Made it: Alex Smith, Patrick Mahomes, Tyler Bray
Practice squad: Joel Stave
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Analysis: Chiefs coach Andy Reid typically likes to keep a quarterback on the practice squad for developmental reasons. Stave has spent time learning the offense so he could make the practice squad, provided that remains the case.
RUNNING BACK (4)
Made it: Kareem Hunt, Charcandrick West, C.J. Spiller, Anthony Sherman
Injured reserve: Spencer Ware
Practice squad: Devine Redding
Analysis: Ware’s season-ending injury made this decision a lot easier. The Chiefs have also liked to keep a running back on the practice squad because that’s a position that gets banged up throughout the season, so I’ve got Redding making the team. However, it’s possible another running back gets cut this weekend that is more attractive to the Chiefs.
Made it: Tyreek Hill, Chris Conley, Albert Wilson, De’Anthony Thomas, Jehu Chesson, Demarcus Robinson
Cut: Gehrig Dieter, Tevin Jones, Tony Stevens, Robert Wheelright
Practice squad: Seantavius Jones, Marcus Kemp
Analysis: I’ve got Hill, Conley, Wilson and Thomas as locks, with the last two spots on the depth chart up for grabs. I went with Chesson and Robinson because they both fared well in their extended auditions on Thursday and they both have proven special-teams ability. While Chesson showed off some explosion with a nice 76-yard punt return on Thursday against the Titans, Robinson proved he adds a downfield element by catching three passes for 127 yards and a touchdown on Thursday. This downfield ability will come in handy if Hill gets hurt for any reason, so I’ve got him on the team. Also keep an eye on Seantavius Jones and Kemp, who could both make the 53-man but have shown enough to be great practice squad candidates in they don’t. Tevin Jones has also impressed with his deep speed — his 68-yard touchdown catch on Thursday was nice — and could be a practice squad sleeper. So could Dieter.
TIGHT END (4)
Made it: Travis Kelce, Demetrius Harris, Gavin Escobar, Ross Travis
Cut: Orson Charles
Analysis: Reid loves his tight ends, which is why I’ve got Travis — who continues to show real pass-catching ability (and some surprising edge/nastiness with the ball in the air) but needs to improve as a blocker — making it. Charles did some nice things in camp but there is a numbers crunch here.
OFFENSIVE LINE (8)
Made it: Eric Fisher, Bryan Witzmann, Mitch Morse, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, Mitchell Schwartz, Zach Fulton, Cameron Erving, Parker Ehinger
Cut: Isaiah Battle, Andrew Tiller, Josh James, Joseph Cheek, Mike Person, Donald Hawkins
Practice squad: Damien Mama, Joseph Cheek
Analysis: No real surprises here. Erving will be the swing tackle, while Ehinger and Fulton also offer some versatility both inside and out. Mama got some work as a center in camp, and Reid singled him out during OTAs as a player he likes; I think he’s an interesting practice-squad candidate. Same goes for Cheek and James, who flipped guard spots with Mama multiple times throughout camp. But I’ve got Cheek beating out James because he’s been working more at tackle, so he would provide a complement to Mama.
DEFENSIVE LINE (6)
Made it: Chris Jones, Bennie Logan, Allen Bailey, Rakeem Nunez-Roches, Roy Miller III, Jarvis Jenkins
Cut: Ricky Ali’ifua, Cam Thomas, Maurice Swain
Practice squad: David King
Analysis: The Chiefs have a nice mix of versatility and athleticism up front, and King is a talented player who could also make the team. His age, 27, might work against his practice-squad candidacy though.
Made it: Justin Houston, Derrick Johnson, Ramik Wilson, Dee Ford, Frank Zombo, Reggie Ragland, Kevin Pierre-Louis, Ukeme Eligwe, Tanoh Kpassagnon
Cut: Marcus Rush, Earl Okine
PUP list: Tamba Hali, Dadi Nicolas
Practice squad: Justin March-Lillard, Terrence Smith
Analysis: Hali has not practiced since camp began, and remains on the PUP list. He hasn’t even been spotted on the sideline. Perhaps he opens the season on the 53-man, but based on what we know, I’m going to guess he opens camp on the PUP list, which allows them to check back in on him in October and really start building toward the home stretch. I’ve noticed the Chiefs have started using Kpassagnon more as a 3-4 edge rusher, which I think lends credibility to my Hali guess. But we’ll see. I also like Smith or March-Lillard as practice-squad candidates, but I’m picking March-Lillard because he’s had some really nice moments on special teams the last few weeks. Smith, however, could also get the practice-squad nod because he’s bigger and has proven to be a little more durable, so it will be interesting to see what happens. Okine has had a nice preseason but he left the game with a lower-body injury of sorts. If he doesn’t end up on injured reserve I could also seem him being an interesting stash/developmental candidate, though his age (27) could work against him.
DEFENSIVE BACKS (10)
Made it: Marcus Peters, Eric Berry, Ron Parker, Steven Nelson, Terrance Mitchell, Daniel Sorensen, Phillip Gaines, De’Vante Bausby, Eric Murray, Kenneth Acker
Cut: Larry Scott, Trevon Hartfield, Steven Terrell, Leon McQuay
Injured reserve: Ashton Lampkin, J.R. Nelson, Jacoby Glenn
Practice squad: D.J. White
Analysis: I’ve got the Chiefs keeping ten defensive backs since Nelson and Mitchell have been banged up, and Gaines has been injury prone. Bausby provides nice insurance, and so does Acker, who can help on special teams. White might edge out Acker in this scenario, but if he doesn’t, I like him as a practice-squad guy. Steven Terrell has gotten a lot of snaps and could be a sneaky candidate to make the team. McQuay could also sneak on the practice squad or roster if they aren’t ready to let him go yet.
Made it: Cairo Santos, Dustin Colquitt, James Winchester
Cut: Sam Ficken
Analysis: The Chiefs might try to pluck a true swing tackle from the waiver wire this weekend; none of the options on the roster are great if left tackle Eric Fisher gets hurt. It is possible that one or two of the three players who are cut wind up on the practice squad.