Stanzi getting the shot at No. 2 QB
Ricky Stanzi, who is becoming a cult hero every day that he does not play, will take over for starter Matt Cassel, and it’s possible that he’ll get a series with the No. 1 unit before it exits the game. Stanzi has been inconsistent in camp, but Brady Quinn, who may or not get in Saturday’s game depending on how long Cassel plays, hasn’t lit it up either. The Rams surrendered 38 points in their preseason opening loss to Indianapolis, so all three quarterbacks should be able to move the ball.
The longer left cornerback Brandon Flowers is out because of a heel injury, the importance of finding his replacement increases. Second-year man Jalil Brown started last week against Arizona and practiced with the first unit for most of the week, but veteran free agent Jacques Reeves moved up in Thursday’s final practice and could get the start against the Rams.
Returning the favor
The Chiefs have made improving their return game a priority this season, and rookie Devon Wylie showed some promise with a 32-yard punt return in the preseason opener against Arizona, while Javier Arenas returned a kickoff 31 yards. They’d love to break a long one this week, and new special-teams coach Tom McMahon should know where the chinks are in the Rams’ coverage. He was their special-teams coach last year.
Wide receiver Jon Baldwin has been sensational on the practice field, but he didn’t have a reception in the Arizona game. In fact, the Chiefs targeted him just once on a pass that fell incomplete, but Arizona was guilty of roughing the passer. Baldwin needs to get a few receptions this week to start gaining confidence for the regular season.
The Chiefs’ 22 starters are fairly certain, assuming Anthony Toribio holds onto the nose tackle spot, and Flowers returns from injury. But finding capable backups and developing depth will be critical. Rookie left tackle Donald Stephenson needs to cut down on penalties (he had two against Arizona), and his development is essential now that Ray Willis on Friday became the second veteran tackle in camp to abruptly announce his retirement. Veteran outside linebacker Edgar Jones needs to show if he can rush the passer, especially with backup Cameron Sheffield out with an injury; and someone has to emerge as a playmaker from a group of backup defensive ends that includes veterans Amon Gordon and Ropati Pitoitua and youngsters Brandon Bair and Allen Bailey.