Red Zone

Snap-count thoughts on Justin March-Lillard’s surprising lack of work, and more

Chiefs return to locker room after preseason win over Bengals

Chiefs enter locker room 30-12 winners over the Bengals on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, in Cincinnati.
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Chiefs enter locker room 30-12 winners over the Bengals on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, in Cincinnati.

Here are some observations based on the snap-count data from the Chiefs’ first two preseason games. The first number is from the first game, a 27-17 home loss to the San Francisco 49ers, and the second number is from the second game, a 30-12 road win over the Cincinnati Bengals.

Quarterback

Patrick Mahomes: 20/26

Alex Smith: 8/19

Tyler Bray: 14/14

Joel Stave: 10/8

Not much to see here, as Chiefs coach Andy Reid kept things pretty similar, aside from upping Smith’s workload.

Running back

C.J. Spiller: 8/26

Kareem Hunt: 9/16

Charcandrick West: 14/15

Anthony Sherman: 7/9

Devine Redding: 3/9

Spencer Ware: 18/2

I find it interesting the Chiefs wanted to get a long look at Spiller — who I believe has a decent chance to make the team if he can stay healthy — in lieu of carries for Ware. It makes sense, though; after the game, Reid said they know what Ware can do, and they wanted to get a look at the backups. Makes sense, whether they keep three running backs or four. Expect this battle to continue throughout the preseason as West and Spiller battle for spots on the 53-man roster.

Wide receiver

Chris Conley: 14/30

Tyreek Hill: 12/26

Demarcus Robinson: 18/20

Marcus Kemp: 15/14

Jehu Chesson: 14/13

Seantavius Jones: 19/12

Albert Wilson: 11/10

De’Anthony Thomas: 10/10

Gehrig Dieter: 8/9

Tevin Jones: 5/10

Rob Wheelwright: 4/3

Tony Stevens: 4/3

Notice how Kemp has gotten almost as many reps the last two weeks (29) as Seantavius Jones (31) among the backup receivers. Those are the guys with the edge for practice squad spots, in my opinion. Heck, Jones might even have a chance to make to the team, though I think Conley, Hill and Thomas are locks, with Wilson, Robinson and Chesson in that next tier. The Chiefs won’t keep more than six receivers, and they’re always good for a cut-day surprise, so the battle here is far from over.

Tight end

Demetrius Harris: 19/23

Travis Kelce: DNP/20

Ross Travis: 19/18

Gavin Escobar: 16/30

Orson Charles: 13/15

Kelce looked like his old self after sitting out the preseason opener as he recovered from an injury. The Chiefs took a long look at Escobar on Saturday, and he responded with a terrific red-zone catch on a daring throw from Mahomes. Escobar’s red-zone prowess was a skill, even in Dallas, though it’s one the Chiefs might not need as badly if Harris’ improvement holds. Still, the Chiefs did carry four tight ends last season and seem to have a nice group already, though Charles’ receiving ability has caught my eye a bit in camp.

Offensive line

LT Eric Fisher: 19/32

C Mitch Morse: 19/32

RT Mitch Schwartz: 19/32

RG Laurent Duvernay-Tardif: 19/31

RT Jah Reid: 23/28

LG Andrew Tiller: 23/28

LT Donald Hawkins: 19/28

LG/C Zach Fulton: 8/26

C Mike Person: 25/23

RG Jordan Devey: 23/21

LG Bryan Witzmann: 19/18

RG Damien Mama: 10/14

RT Joseph Cheek: 10/7

LG Josh James: 10/7

LT Isaiah Battle: 14/7

Definitely notable here that Fulton’s reps increased significantly and Witzmann’s decreased, as Fulton earned some time with the first-string at left guard. It will be interesting to see if he can earn the job back, if given the opportunity. Maybe he can help punch up their red-zone rushing issues. Fulton also logged some center snaps this week and is looking like a valuable reserve, at worst.

A few other depth chart notes for the super-nerdy line-watchers (like me): Mama (RG) and James (LG) flipped guard spots this week, while Battle was demoted to third-string left tackle in favor of Hawkins after a rough opener. Tiller lined up at left guard after lining up at right guard last week, while Devey and Person have each tallied some time at center this preseason.

Defensive line

DE Jarvis Jenkins: 37/30

DE Tanoh Kpassagnon: 49/28

DE David King: 37/25

NT Rakeem Nunez-Roches: 26/21

DE Allen Bailey: 13/21

NT Bennie Logan: DNP/16

NT Cam Thomas: 30/15

DE Ricky Ali’ifua: 24/10

DE Maurice Swain: 22/2

Swain’s huge drop-off in playing time is notable. As for the rest, the Chiefs played fewer defensive snaps this week so it makes sense the second-teamers saw less work, in general.

Linebacker

OLB Frank Zombo: 38/27

OLB Dee Ford: 4/25

OLB Justin Houston: 4/25

ILB Kevin Pierre-Louis: 23/21

ILB Josh Mauga: 20/20

ILB Ukeme Eligwe: 41/18

ILB Derrick Johnson: 22/15

ILB Terrence Smith: 13/14

ILB Ramik Wilson: 17/14

OLB Marcus Rush: 73/8

OLB Earl Okine: 43

ILB Justin March-Lillard: 14/4

Huge drop off in playing time for Okine, Rush and March-Lillard, who has seemingly been vaulted on the depth chart by Smith, Eligwe, Pierre-Louis, Wilson and Johnson. The lack of work for March-Lillard is a surprise. He earned the starting job out of camp last year, and has shown a nose for the ball as a weakside inside guy. If he doesn’t make the team, somebody is going to get a really good player. Okine also caught my attention in camp as a potential developmental guy.

Cornerback

De’Vante Bausby: 23/32

Kenneth Acker: 41/27

Phillip Gaines: 22/26

Marcus Peters: 4/25

D.J. White: 26/18

Ashton Lampkin: 30/16

Steven Nelson: 18/16

Larry Scott: DNP/4

Trevon Hartfield: 6/4

Terrence Mitchell: 18/DNP

J.R. Nelson: 27/DNP

Looks like the Chiefs wanted to get a long look at Bausby, who had the coverage on a pass that led to an interception, and Acker. Lampkin saw his snaps fall a tad but he’s a rookie I could definitely see making the practice squad, barring a drop-off in his plays. Lampkin is tough, competitive and cornerback coach Al Harris likes him. He’s got some “dog” in him, as Harris likes to say, and he’s caught my eye during the offseason.

Safety

Steven Terrell: 38/36

Leon McQuay: 41/28

Daniel Sorensen: 22/25

Ron Parker: 4/25

Eric Murray: 40/22

The Chiefs continue to take long looks at Terrell and McQuay. Murray had an interception off a deflection on Saturday — the product of being around the ball — and he continues to show improvement after a nice camp.

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