Five things to watch in the Chiefs’ preseason opener
08/09/2013 9:13 PM
05/16/2014 9:55 AM
The Chiefs open the preseason Friday against the Saints in New Orleans. Kickoff is 7 p.m. on KCTV (Channel 5). Here are five things to keep an eye on:
• 1. It’s all about the head coaches. It’s Andy Reid’s first game as head coach of the Chiefs after 14 seasons at Philadelphia. Reid plans to keep the offense simple, and defensive coordinator Bob Sutton likely won’t show the exotic blitzes and position groupings he has in store for the regular season. Meanwhile, New Orleans head coach Sean Payton will return for his first game after serving a year’s suspension for his role in the Saints’ bounty scandal. The place will be raucous at the sight of Payton, who guided the Saints to a Super Bowl championship in 2009.
• 2. Three new quarterbacks will make their Chiefs debuts, starting with Alex Smith. The Chiefs want Smith to stay in one piece and won’t let him sit in the pocket. Watch for passes into the flat or screens to the backs and short seam patterns to tight ends. Backup Chase Daniel will play the second quarter against his former teammates and may show some of the roll-out features of the offense. And rookie Tyler Bray will start the second half and show off his strong arm.
• 3. Tackle Eric Fisher, the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft, will get his baptism at right tackle. Fisher has taken his lumps in practice not only against the likes of Justin Houston, but against second-team players, too. Fisher will get a look at the defense being installed — and rebuilt — by the Saints’ new coordinator, Rob Ryan.
• 4. The biggest position battle is at inside linebacker, between free agent Akeem Jordan and rookie Nico Johnson, the Chiefs’ fourth-round pick from Alabama. Jordan, who spent six years mostly as a backup at Philadelphia, has been running with the first team most of the time, but Johnson has been getting a look with the starters in the base 3-4 front.
• 5. Who’s the Chiefs’ second wide receiver? Jon Baldwin has been starting opposite Dwayne Bowe, but Baldwin seems to wilt under the pressure of game time. Donnie Avery, a free-agent acquisition, and second-year man Devon Wiley are going to put some pressure on Baldwin, the club’s first-round pick in 2012.