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Who will make the Chiefs’ 53-man roster? The Star beat writers make their predictions

Chiefs Berry out with heel injury, offensive line a concern, but don’t panic yet it’s still the preseason — The Star’s A-Team 2.0 gives an update from Kansas City Chiefs training camp

The Kansas City Star's Brooke Pryer, Blair Kerkhoff and Lynn Worth talk injuries and offensive line at Chiefs training camp in St. Joe.
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The Kansas City Star's Brooke Pryer, Blair Kerkhoff and Lynn Worth talk injuries and offensive line at Chiefs training camp in St. Joe.

The Chiefs are halfway through the preseason, which means it’s time to start speculating about the makeup of the 53-man roster.

The Chiefs will cut their roster from 90 to 53 by 3 p.m. on Sept. 1, but The Star is making the cuts now. Not every one of these will be right, but we’re going to do our best to make educated guesses. We’re not putting guys on injured reserve quite yet, or attempting to designate players to the practice squad. More of that in next week’s installment.

Quarterback (3)

Brooke: Patrick Mahomes, Chad Henne, Chase Litton

Lynn: Patrick Mahomes, Chad Henne, Matt McGloin

Where they differ: McGloin vs. Litton

Analysis: While Mahomes and Henne are no brainers, the third string spot is a bit of a battle.

Brooke thinks the Chiefs ultimately go with rookie Litton because he has a higher ceiling than veteran McGloin. There’s more potential and more upside to keeping a young guy than another journeyman.

However, if they get to the point where the third guy becomes the backup or — heaven forbid — is counted on to play meaningful snaps, then McGloin’s experience could make him the more viable candidate.

Running back (4)

Brooke: Kareem Hunt, Damien Williams, Spencer Ware, Anthony Sherman

Lynn: Kareem Hunt, Damien Williams, Charcandrick West, Anthony Sherman

Where they differ: Ware vs. West

Analysis: Before his shoulder injury in the last week of training camp, Damien Williams was the best running back at training camp not named Kareem Hunt. And it’s because of that breakout that Brooke thinks Charcandrick West ends up getting cut.

The Chiefs will likely only carry three running backs and a fullback and West’s concussion kept him out of practice for almost the entirety of training camp.

It’s a crappy situation, but when it comes to the bottom line, Williams has done more to earn a spot than West in the preseason. But West could make the roster if Ware starts out the season on injured reserve. He’ll likely be in contention for that spot with rookie Darrel Williams.

While the Chiefs know what West can do, he may be hurt by his lack of preseason playing time. Assuming he does get on the field, Lynn’s counting on his familiarity with the offense and ability to be a receiving threat helping his cause. That’s assuming Spencer Ware begins the season on injured reserve since he’s yet to take part in any contact.

Receiver (6)

Brooke: Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Chris Conley, Demarcus Robinson, De’Anthony Thomas, Gehrig Deiter/ Jehu Chesson/ Marcus Kemp/ Byron Pringle

Lynn: Sammy Watkins, Tyreek Hill, Chris Conley, Demarcus Robinson, De’Anthony Thomas, Jehu Chesson

Where they differ: Dieter vs. Chesson

Analysis: Brooke realizes it’s cheating to list four possibilities as the final entry in this group, but she thinks they all have equal odds to make the roster. Out of the four, however, her surprise keep is Dieter.

Her reasoning: Not only is he a solid receiver, but he’s also good friends with Mahomes. It’ll pay to keep the starting quarterback happy. Thomas hasn’t done anything remarkable as a wide receiver though the preseason, but because he was the primary kick returner last year, she thinks he’ll make the roster. Because Pringle’s never played in the NFL before but has been impressive in training camp, he’s a good candidate for the practice squad.

Lynn makes the call to pick Chesson because the Chiefs drafted him and saw something in him they liked, which should buy him more time to build on his potential.

Tight ends (4)

Brooke: Travis Kelce, Demetrius Harris*, Jace Amaro, Alex Ellis

Lynn: Travis Kelce, Demetrius Harris, Jace Amaro, Alex Ellis

Where they differ: Nowhere

Analysis: We think the Chiefs will end up carrying three tight ends for the bulk of the season, but with Harris suspended for the first game for violating league policy on substance abuse, they’ll need an extra body on hand.

Offensive line (8)

Brooke: Eric Fisher, Mitch Morse, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, Cameron Erving, Mitchell Schwartz, Andrew Wylie, Kahlil McKenzie, Bryan Witzmann

Lynn: Eric Fisher, Cam Erving, Mitch Morse, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, Mitchell Schwartz, Andrew Wylie, Parker Ehringer, Kahlil McKenzie

Where they differ: Ehringer vs. Witzmann

Analysis: Ehinger is one of Brooke’s surprise cuts this year. He’s been solidly second team, but he never returned to starting form after his 2016 knee injury. With guys like Wylie and McKenzie on the rise, Ehinger may end up being the odd man out.

Lynn’s slotting Ehringer onto the roster as the third tackle since they’ve been working him at tackle in camp. Erving has been part of the starting five throughout camp, and Wylie was the one promoted to the starting group with LDT out this past week. Lynn has no doubt McKenzie will get time to develop and learn the position after being a defensive player in college.

Defensive line (5)

Brooke: Chris Jones, Allen Bailey, Xavier Williams, Derrick Nnadi, Jarvis Jenkins

Lynn: Chris Jones, Xavier Williams, Allen Bailey, Derrick Nnadi, Justin Hamilton

Where they differ: Jenkins vs. Hamilton

Analysis: The usual suspects here. All of these guys have been playing first and second string, and rookie Nnadi has been really impressive with his big body during the preseason.

Brooke is personally disappointed that it appears the Chiefs will cut Dee Liner because he has the best name for a defensive lineman that she has ever seen. Lynn’s going with the slightly younger Hamilton over Jenkins as the last tackle. Hamilton has also gotten second-team reps on the line.

Linebackers (10)

Brooke: Justin Houston, Dee Ford, Tanoh Kpassagnon, Breeland Speaks, Frank Zombo, Reggie Ragland, Anthony Hitchens, Ukeme Eligwe, Dorian O’Daniel, Ben Niemann

Lynn: Justin Houston, Anthony Hitchens, Reggie Ragland, Breeland Speaks, Ukeme Eligwe, Dorian O’Daniel, Tanoh Kpassagnon, Terrence Smith, Ben Niemann

Where they differ: Zombo vs. Smith

Analysis: Terrance Smith and Neimann may end up being a toss-up, but Brooke thinks Neimann gets the edge because he’s had a really impressive preseason. He had a pick-six against Atlanta, and he’s been mentioned frequently by the coaching staff as a guy to watch.

Right now, Lynn is gambling that Chiefs will keep an extra inside backer, though it’s probably a long shot. Niemann has certainly made a case for himself, but Eligwe, O’Daniel and Smith may have bigger upside athletically.

Defensive backs (10)

Brooke: Kendall Fuller, Steve Nelson, David Amerson, Tremon Smith, Orlando Scandrick, Eric Berry, Daniel Sorensen, Leon McQuay, Eric Murray, Armani Watts

Lynn: Steven Nelson, Kendall Fuller, Tremon Smith, Orlando Scandrick, David Amerson, Eric Berry, Eric Murray, Leon McQuay, Armani Watts, Arrion Springs

Where they differ: Matter of logistics

Analysis: The most interesting thing about this group will be seeing who gets a shot at making the roster if Sorensen opens the season on injured reserve or if Berry’s heel keeps him out for an extended amount of time.

Jordan Sterns may have a shot if either happens. Lynn is putting the rookie Arrion Springs into the mix simply because of the Sorensen injury. He’s factoring Sorensen in as a candidate to start the season off the 53-man roster.

Specialists (3)

Brooke: Harrison Butker, Dustin Colquitt, James Winchester

Lynn: Harrison Butker, Dustin Colquitt, James Winchester

Where they differ: They don’t.

Analysis: Duh.

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