Red Zone

Snap-count observations: Chiefs will get plenty of use out of Travis Kelce, Anthony Fasano

Carolina’s Frank Alexander tried to block the passing lane of Chiefs quarterback Aaron Murray during Sunday night’s game.
Carolina’s Frank Alexander tried to block the passing lane of Chiefs quarterback Aaron Murray during Sunday night’s game. The Associated Press

Here are some observations based on the snap-count data from the Chiefs’ 28-16 preseason loss to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. Numbers provided by the NFL.


*Starting tight end Anthony Fasano played all but two of the first-team offense’s snaps (37) while (explosive?) backup Travis Kelce logged 29 throughout the course of the game. This is no coincidence. I think the Chiefs will use a ton of two-tight-end sets because they need to find a way to get Kelce on the field and they’ll also be able to help a potentially worrisome offensive line.

Keep in mind also that third-string tight end Demetrius Harris (18 snaps) almost logged more playing time than both fullbacks — Anthony Sherman and Jordan Campbell — combined. Those two combined for 20 snaps.

*Don’t be fooled by the low play-count totals for running back De’Anthony Thomas (12 snaps) and receiver Junior Hemingway (10 snaps). Both players will contribute come the regular season, barring injury. Thomas split out wide on the first play of the game — an interesting use of his talents — while Junior Hemingway appeared to be third receiver.

*Don’t trip out too much about the way Chiefs coach Andy Reid handled the quarterback situation. Chase Daniel (10 snaps) and Aaron Murray (17 snaps) both told me they knew exactly how much they would play entering the game. Reid also made it clear that Tyler Bray will get most or all of the second-half work next week while those two sit.

*Jeff Linkenbach and Ryan Harris each logged 27 snaps apiece, which was far more than guards Ricky Henry and Rishaw Johnson (13 snaps apiece) logged. Henry played a team-high 36 snaps in week one against the Bengals, so that’s quite a dramatic drop-off.

I suspect Reid just wanted to get Linkenbach and Harris more work, but Henry’s status is worth keeping an eye on in practice. Also, it’s easy to forget now but Johnson — who played almost half as many snaps against the Bengals (19) as Henry did— began training camp as the starter at right guard! I can’t help but wonder if he’s fighting for a spot on the roster now.

*Now, my weekly Weston Dressler update for my Canadian friends: Dressler only logged one offensive snap and he didn’t play on any of the special teams. That tells me he’s going to have a very difficult time making the roster.

*I was surprised to see that tackle J’Marcus Webb didn’t play at all after logged only five snaps against the Bengals. He could be on the outside looking in for a roster spot, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Chiefs really scour for the market for another swing tackle when cuts begin on Aug. 26.


*After logging the second-most snaps on the defense last week, defensive end Jaye Howard got the start again but only played 11 defensive snaps, which was the same as cornerback Ron Parker, who rotated in with the first team at cornerback behind Sean Smith and Marcus Cooper.

In Howard’s case, I wouldn’t worry too much. The Chiefs used their nickel defense a ton, and he comes off the field in those instances. Still, big defensive tackle Vance Walker, who signed a three-year, $13 million contract this offseason, got a few goal-line reps in Howard’s place during the first half. Something to keep an eye on.

*Speaking of their nickel defense, the Chiefs made an interesting adjustment. After letting James-Michael Johnson get some first-team reps next to Derrick Johnson in that alignment in the preseason opener, the used safety Husain Abdullah there a ton. In those instances, young safeties Daniel Sorensen and Malcolm Bronson played together deep.

However, I did spot James-Michael in there next to Derrick on a handful of occasions in the first half, so it’s not like the Chiefs have given up the ghost on that alignment, yet.

*Frank Zombo played 22 fewer snaps than fellow outside linebacker Josh Martin did last week, but Zombo logged three more (18 to 15) than Martin did this week. Seems like the Chiefs were actively trying to even out the reps this week.

*After being stuck on the third team throughout camp, inside linebacker Nico Johnson played 33 snaps, which was the fourth most of the defense this week. But remember, Josh Mauga — who has been playing ahead of him in camp — missed the game with a shoulder injury.

To reach Terez A. Paylor, call 816-234-4489 or send email to Follow him at