Kansas City Chiefs

Chiefs Waive Two Players, Trim Roster Down to 85

Chiefs Waive Two Players, Trim Roster Down to 85

KC cuts down its roster in accordance with the NFL's Tuesday afternoon deadline.

The Kansas City Chiefs had until 4:00 p.m. ET to trim their roster down to 85 players in an effort to meet the NFL's imposed deadline, and they've settled on their first round of final roster cuts in the final hour of eligibility. 

On Tuesday, Kansas City waived defensive lineman Austin Edwards and wide receiver Devin Gray per Herbie Teope of The Kansas City Star. This comes a day after the club announced four others getting waived: wide receivers Omar Bayless and Gary Jennings, offensive tackle Evin Ksiezarczyk and cornerback Lonnie Johnson Jr. 

Those Monday moves, combined with the official signing of interior defensive lineman Danny Shelton, moved the roster total to 87 heading into Tuesday. As a result, the Tuesday cuts of Edwards and Gray were all the Chiefs needed in order to reach their required total.

Edwards, an undrafted free agent in 2020, started his career with the Atlanta Falcons. After his stint there, he joined Kansas City back in January of 2021 as a practice squad signee. Edwards re-joined the team on a reserve/futures contract in February of this year but didn't last through the first full set of cuts. Gray was signed by the Chiefs less than a month ago following a workout and is now looking for another NFL team to bring him in. The 27-year-old most recently played in the United States Football league as a member of the Philadelphia Stars, hauling in 26 passes for 215 yards and a pair of touchdowns. 

Kansas City is now good on cuts for a week, as it'll have until Aug. 23 to get from 85 players to 80. Tuesday, Aug. 30 is the big day to remember, as that's when all teams in the league must cut down from 80 all the way to their final 53-man units. With each passing roster move, the picture of who the Chiefs will carry into the regular season becomes clearer. 

Read More: Three Chiefs Who Improved Their Stock Against the Bears

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The Chiefs Are Doubling Down on Their Youth Movement at CB

The Chiefs Are Doubling Down on Their Youth Movement at CB

After waiving Lonnie Johnson Jr., KC is sending a clear message about its investment at cornerback.

The Kansas City Chiefs waived cornerback Lonnie Johnson Jr. on Monday as the team inched closer and closer to the NFL's required roster cutdown from 90-man rosters to 85 players. What if I told you that this is even further evidence of Kansas City's ongoing youth movement at the position?

That probably sounds crazy, as Johnson is still just 26 years old and won't turn 27 for a few more months. This is just his fourth season in the NFL, after all. With that said, Chiefs general manager Brett Veach also let 26-year-old Charvarius Ward and 25-year-old Mike Hughes walk via free agency earlier this offseason. A year ago, he made the decision to not retain veteran Bashaud Breeland. Something like this has been in the works for a while now.

Of the Chiefs' projected (majority) top five cornerbacks, the average age is 23 years old. The elder statesmen of the group are Rashad Fenton (25) and L'Jarius Sneed (25). Behind them in age are rookies Jaylen Watson (23), Joshua Williams (22) and Trent McDuffie (21 until mid-September). Of those fighting for a possible final spot and/or a depth chart ranking, Chris Lammons (26) and Dicaprio Bootle (24) are both young players. Again, this is by design. The Chiefs are clearly going young at cornerback, and they're also doing it their way. No one else's. 

All five of the aforementioned projected top cornerbacks are Chiefs draft picks. Fenton was a sixth-round selection back in 2019, and Sneed went in the fourth round just a year later. The trio of McDuffie, Williams and Watson stemmed from the Chiefs' first, fourth- and seventh-round picks this year. Veach is helping defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo build his secondary — one that consists of homegrown talent and clay that can be molded into whatever the coaching staff sees fit. Allowing slightly older, more expensive or less-malleable players such as Ward, Hughes and Johnson go is par for the course here. It's a part of the plan.

Mark Van Sickle of Arrowhead Report joined me on Tuesday's Roughing the Kicker podcast to break down the Chiefs' first preseason game, as well as talk about some players who helped or hurt their stock in game No. 1. We also discussed the Lonnie Johnson transaction and how it impacts the team moving forward. 

For more Kansas City Chiefs coverage and analysis, be sure to subscribe to the 'Roughing the Kicker' podcast. RTK is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever else you listen to your favorite programs.

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Can Isiah Pacheco Challenge for the RB1 Spot This Season?

Can Isiah Pacheco Challenge for the RB1 Spot This Season?

At the NFL's most volatile position, getting hot at the right time matters. Can Pacheco do that for the Chiefs?

Depending on when you found out about him, Isiah Pacheco’s “this kid could be special” moment could vary from person to person. For some, it might’ve come from his time as the standout star on an offensively-challenged Rutgers offense where yards sometimes proved difficult to come by. For others, it could’ve been his decision to don the celebrated Kansas City Chiefs No. 10 jersey — admitting no pressure despite knowing exactly who wore it beforehand.

For many — including myself — that moment came during one of Pacheco’s first-ever press conferences, in which he concluded that he was “ready to take another grown man’s job.”

Regardless of when that moment came into fruition, two things are true: by virtue of his play in both training camp and in the Chiefs’ opening preseason frame, the seventh-round talent appears both poised to take a job for his own and also carve out an early role as a day one contributor for this 2022-23 group.

It’s been said throughout the week, but that Pacheco only played eight snaps — including three with the Patrick Mahomes-led first-team — means exponentially more than if he had played, say, 25 snaps. It signifies that head coach Andy Reid and staff know exactly what they have in him. Grooming him towards a sizable role could be on standby. Those with an even more tangible pulse on the Chiefs internally, like The Athletic’s Nate Taylor, view Pacheco’s rise as something that could lead to both Ronald Jones II and Derrick Gore’s releases as the team eventually cuts down to a 53-man roster.

Eight snaps and a heap of praise during training camp shouldn’t be enough to start coronating Pacheco as the guy. That applies especially now that outside observers have a little bit more knowledge of what Clyde Edwards-Helaire has overcome, from the gallbladder surgery to now and finally having his first full, normal offseason as a professional.

The feelings are mutual among Edwards-Helaire's supporters in that something has to give at some point, in terms of him being healthy, putting everything together and returning the value on 2020’s first-round investment. Edwards-Helaire deserves that opportunity. Realistically, though, history deserves to be noted: injuries, all along the same leg have already forced the talented Edwards-Helaire out of the lineup in 14 of a possible 39 games in his young NFL career, including the postseason.

To follow the trends of how the Chiefs’ backfield (and Andy Reid-led backfields) have looked in the past, it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary if Pacheco, at his current trajectory, shifted the room a bit even without an injury. Especially if one of the running backs — be it Edwards-Helaire, Pacheco, Jerick McKinnon, etc. — starts to cash in on those light boxes, incentivizing to trust the run game further.

Pacheco, already drawing comparisons to Kareem Hunt, has the vibes of a player who could take advantage of that with his physical, punishing running style. Reid’s comments about him not shying away from anything felt (personally) unnerving considering Edwards-Helaire had a run on that opening drive where he needed just a yard and didn’t get it. There’s perhaps no correlation nor long-term importance, though it stood out.

Thinking back on Pacheco, analysis of his college play paints the picture of a back who played behind such a fruitless offensive line that he sometimes lacked patience and merely had to get what he could. Playing behind perhaps the NFL’s best interior linemen gives him the opportunity to rewrite that portion of his career arc.

To look back into that history: it wasn’t too long ago that the Chiefs went to the Super Bowl, literally with an undrafted back as their bell-cow in Damien Williams. It wasn’t as though they hid him, either: he averaged 15.3 totes, the third-most of any back that postseason. If more proof is needed that the hot hand is more important than any particular name or draft pick, just consider the Chiefs’ game-for-game rushing attempt leaders.

Across 20 games last year, Edwards-Helaire led the team in eight games, followed by Darrel Williams with five, Patrick Mahomes — yes, the quarterback — with three games and Derrick Gore with one. The postseason leader? None of those guys. McKinnon was tops in rushing attempts in all three games.

Even further back, the trend has crystallized. After not playing a game as a rookie, it was Charcandrick West who was called upon to lead the Chiefs’ running game after Jamaal Charles’ injury despite Knile Davis and Spencer Ware having an experience advantage. In Philadelphia, Reid trusted Correll Buckhalter, a 2001 rookie fourth-rounder, to lead the team in touches after Duce Staley’s injuries despite having other options.

The case in short: if you can run, you can play. If you can run without fumbling, something Pacheco did on average once every 152.5 touches, that's all the more purposeful. As should be the case, the questions of how (or why) a player with this much praise was be a Day Three back deserve some thought, and not every trait was perfect in his debut game.

With that said, the mere fact that Pacheco is generating as much praise as he is — both as a runner, pass catcher and pass protector from so many respectable Chiefs minds can only serve as a net positive. Four months into his career, one could say that he’s on the right track to not only “take a grown man’s job,” but also to dip into some other grown men’s snap counts as well.

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Chiefs Waive Four Players Before Monday Practice

Chiefs Waive Four Players Before Monday Practice

KC goes to work getting closer to the league's 85-man roster requirement by Tuesday.

All 32 NFL teams have to get their rosters down from 90 men to 85 by the league's 4:00 p.m. ET deadline on Tuesday, and the Kansas City Chiefs are already getting to work a day early. Ahead of their first day back at training camp practice following the club's 19-14 preseason-opening loss to the Chicago Bears, Kansas City has waived four players. 

Herbie Teope of The Kansas City Star originally had the list, which was confirmed via a tweet by the Chiefs' official account just a few minutes later:

The Chiefs' full list of those waived consists of wide receivers Omar Bayless and Gary Jennings, as well as offensive tackle Evin Ksiezarczyk and cornerback Lonnie Johnson Jr. The minor surprise of the group is Johnson, whom the team traded for back in May in exchange for a 2024 conditional seventh-round selection. Here's what I wrote about where Johnson could fit within Steve Spagnuolo's secondary picture at the time of the trade: 

Johnson joins a Chiefs secondary that has undergone quite a bit of renovation this offseason. Not only has Chavarius Ward departed town via free agency, but so did the aforementioned Hughes. In the 2022 NFL Draft, Veach traded up in the first round for Washington cornerback Trent McDuffie and then added Cincinnati safety Bryant Cook, Fayetteville State cornerback Joshua Williams, Washington State cornerback Jaylen Watson and Marshall safety Nazeeh Johnson to the picture from Thursday-Saturday. 

The Chiefs needed to make at least one move in order to officially roster nose tackle Danny Shelton, who was present at the team's training camp practice on Monday. The news of Shelton joining Kansas City came last week, and the veteran is on a one-year deal and is expected to compete for a roster spot during the preseason.

It remains to be seen if additional moves are coming on Monday, but these transactions undoubtedly move the Chiefs closer to the league-imposed 85-man total. By Tuesday, Aug. 23, teams must cut from 85 to 80 and then by the following Tuesday, that total has to get all the way down to the final 53.

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Three Chiefs Who Improved Their Stock Against the Bears

Three Chiefs Who Improved Their Stock Against the Bears

These Chiefs players made the most of their opportunities in week one of the preseason.

The Kansas City Chiefs may have lost their first preseason game against the Chicago Bears on Saturday, but there were still plenty of positives to go around. For starters (literally), Kansas City's first-team offense and defense both played some terrific football and contributed in major ways to the club jumping out to an early lead. After that, the Chiefs' reserves saw multiple players step up and make plays as needed despite ultimately coming up short on the final scorecard.

With the deadline for teams to cut their rosters down from 90 to 85 players quickly approaching, there will soon be a handful of Chiefs looking for new homes. Others, however, did themselves some huge favors in week one of the preseason by taking advantage of the opportunities given to them against Chicago. Let's single out three of them. 

Justin Watson — WR

One would be hard-pressed to find a member of the Chiefs who did a better job than wide receiver Justin Watson did against the Bears. The former Tampa Bay Buccaneers wideout has garnered no shortage of hype over the course of the offseason, and the month of August has led to it manifesting into actual production on the field. In just 26 offensive snaps (41%), the 26-year-old led the Chiefs in receptions (five) and yards (45) while converting on nearly all of his six targets. 

Watson also got a bit of run on special teams, totaling five snaps (17%) there as well. There's been a lot of discourse lately about who will be the Chiefs' fifth receiver this year, and Watson appears to be that guy. Not only is he seemingly avoiding the fringe spot of a possible sixth wideout, but he's a good candidate to be locked in as WR5. Saturday's performance showed that Watson doesn't really have anything else left to prove — he's a keeper for the Chiefs. 

Daurice Fountain — WR

Twelve months ago, Daurice Fountain was having standout preseason performances and popping up as a trendy pick to sneak onto the back-end of the Chiefs' roster as the final receiver to make the cut. That ended up being the case, as Kansas City kept five wideouts and he was the final one on the depth chart. Fountain would go on to get released and re-signed to the practice squad in October, then signed to a reserve/futures deal in February of this year. It remains to be seen whether history will repeat itself this year but assuming the Chiefs keep six receivers to open the season, Fountain has the inside edge on that job.

Playing 17 snaps on offense (27%) in Chicago, Fountain was targeted three times and hauled in all three of those passes for 24 yards. That may not sound like a lot, but fellow receivers Josh Gordon and Cornell Powell failing to fully capitalize on their chances makes Fountain's reliable performance that much more telling. Also, the fact that he didn't need to register a single special teams snap against the Bears despite doing so in the past could mean something about how the Chiefs feel about him. Fountain's name shouldn't be written in sharpie on any 53-man roster projections, but he helped his case in the opening week of the preseason for sure. 

Taylor Stallworth — DT

Last season with the Indianapolis Colts, interior defensive lineman Taylor Stallworth was a productive playmaker as a part-time rotational piece. In 16 games, he recorded 16 tackles (four for loss), three sacks and a pass batted down. All of that came while playing just a third of Indy's defensive snaps. On the open market, the Chiefs signed him to a one-year deal worth $1.19 million. For reference, Jarran Reed played 64% of the Chiefs' defensive snaps last year and recorded 2.5 sacks and two tackles for loss. He was playing on a $5.5M contract.

The point here is that in order for Stallworth to be worth Kansas City's investment relatively, he doesn't have to do a ton. A knee injury kept him out of training camp for a bit and the signing of Danny Shelton doesn't help his case for making the roster, but his performance against the Bears sure does. In 39 snaps (59%), Stallworth recorded a pair of tackles and half a sack. The battle for that last interior defensive line spot will be a serious one, but don't count Stallworth out just yet. He appears to have some fight left in him.

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Chiefs Are Confident in Versatility of New-Look Offense

Chiefs Are Confident in Versatility of New-Look Offense

Despite having just one drive together, the Chiefs' top offense is already excited.

The Kansas City Chiefs attempted 40 passes in their loss to the Chicago Bears on Saturday, and starting quarterback Patrick Mahomes was responsible for seven of them. Despite having just a 17.5% share of the pie, the superstar signal-caller and his surrounding unit were able to execute perhaps the most impressive drive of the day.

Mahomes completed six of his seven pass attempts, throwing for 60 yards and a touchdown in the process. It was a very efficient drive from the Chiefs' leader, as he struck a balance between taking simple dump-off passes and extending plays in a manner that he's somehow made seem normal for his standards over the years. Head coach Andy Reid said he was going to give Mahomes the entire first quarter to play, although that ended up turning into well less than that. Sticking to the plan, Mahomes said he and his teammates took care of business in their limited stint together.

"We did what we were supposed to do," Mahomes said. "We went out there, we were able to spread the football around, get a lot of different guys involved and found a way to get into the end zone. That's what our goal was — come out here and score a touchdown. We did that, so it was definitely a good day and something we can build on."

This year, the Chiefs have to learn how to navigate life without star wide receiver Tyreek Hill. Hill, who was traded to the Miami Dolphins back in March, is perhaps the most explosive non-quarterback playmaker in the entire NFL. He's also one of the very best in league history, which makes replacing him directly a fool's errand. Instead, Kansas City loaded up at the receiver position and opted for versatility and depth over a star-for-star swap of sorts. The early returns on that series of decisions are undoubtedly positive.

Several Chiefs got involved on that initial drive yet somehow, there were many others who remained left out. That's the beauty of this year's Chiefs offense: there are so many options to choose from. Mahomes has leaned on Hill and tight end Travis Kelce in the past, but now he'll likely be forced to spread the ball around as much as possible just like he did on Saturday. After the game, Mahomes said things will look different moving forward but he also added that this group's selflessness is exactly what he wants. 

"I think it's going to be a lot like that this year," Mahomes said. "It's going to come from everywhere. We saw six different receivers [catch a pass]. JuJu (Smith-Schuster) didn't even get a catch, you didn't see any of the other tight ends get catches. It's going to come from everywhere this year. It's going to be hard for teams to kind of gameplan against. Obviously, Travis (Kelce) is going to probably have a lot of catches; that's just who he is. But I think other than that, it's going to come from the whole group. I think the guys have kind of embraced that and know that whenever their number does get called, they're going to make a play and if the other guy makes the play, they're going to be happy for him. That's what you want as a team and an offense." 

One receiver who came on particularly strong during the second quarter — once Mahomes had exited the game — was free agent signing Justin Watson. Watson, who has battled throughout the offseason and training camp for a potential roster spot at the end of the month, comes from a Super Bowl-winning team in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and has adjusted to learning another club's playbook for the first time in his relatively young NFL career. When asked about the versatility of this year's Chiefs offense, Watson also spoke highly of the talent and subsequent possibilities for Kansas City. 

"They do such a great job here," Watson said. "Obviously, you have Patrick, just an unbelievable quarterback [with] arm talent, he's the full package. Then you look at coach Reid, he's been in this game for so long. They've had fast guys and had big receivers. He's won with just about any type of receiver and tight end combination. I think it'll look a little bit different this year... There's a lot of talent, there are a lot of playmakers. I think it's going to be exciting as an offense." 

Reid's unit will only garner more and more experience together over time, and that will come with inevitable growing pains. Not every outing will be as successful as Saturday's. With that said, the ceiling for this group is also extremely high and more repetitions should lead to more of those aforementioned possibilities being explored. The Chiefs' first-team offense got off to a terrific start against the Bears, and that's a valuable baseline to go off of as week two of the preseason looms.

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George Karlaftis Is Receiving Rave Reviews for Chiefs Debut

George Karlaftis Is Receiving Rave Reviews for Chiefs Debut

Karlaftis had a great performance and will continue to get better in the eyes of the Chiefs.

Despite ultimately losing to the Chicago Bears in their initial preseason game of 2022, the Kansas City Chiefs had a fantastic first half on the defensive side of the ball. Defensive end George Karlaftis was a major part of that.

Karlaftis, playing in his first game as a professional, was arguably Kansas City's most productive defensive lineman during his allotted playing time on Saturday. The former Purdue standout and 2022 first-round draft pick recorded just one tackle on the afternoon, but it was a 10-yard sack that served as a major splash play early on. His power up front was glaringly obvious, and it helped Steve Spagnuolo's unit tremendously. 

After the game, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid addressed the media on the heels of a disappointing loss. The tone of his presser was anything but sad, however, as he had plenty to be proud of. Karlaftis slotted right into that category, and Reid glowed when asked about the 21-year-old's first game as a Chief. 

"Yeah, he's a sharp kid," Reid said. "He wants to do the right things. He talks to everybody. All those veteran players, he asks questions. He's not afraid to learn. He's got a good defensive line coach that can teach him. He's a sponge right now with all that." 

Andy wasn't the only Reid to speak highly of Karlaftis, though. Safety Justin Reid also took notice of Karlaftis's motor during the game, and for good reason. That motor was one of the main selling points that many draft analysts and college football fans alike noticed during the pass-rusher's time with the Boilermakers in college. Karlaftis doesn't quit on plays, and he worked extremely hard against the Bears. While it didn't result in multiple sacks, it was present on the field. Reid admires that quality. 

"The best thing that I love to see about him is he just has a motor," Reid said. "I mean, the kid was just going all-out. One of the plays, [if] the quarterback held it for a half-second longer, he would have had a strip sack. He's had an impressive debut. He's the type of guy, smart player, that he's going to keep that motor going and he's going to help us this year."

Last, but certainly not least, quarterback Patrick Mahomes was also asked about Karlaftis and his ability to be relentless when he's on the field. He, too, gave a rave review of his teammate's willingness to go the extra mile. 

"He's going to go hard the entire time," Mahomes said. "That's just who he is. That's what's got him here. I think he'll keep crafting his skills every single week and get better and better. And he's a guy that works extremely hard, so I know he can keep getting better and better. The only thing we have to work on is his celebration." 

As the Chiefs continue their training camp slate and prepare for their second preseason game of the year (next week against the Washington Commanders), Karlaftis will keep being featured on defense. He's a rookie who should make a pretty serious impact in year one, and he showed on Saturday that he can win without being the most polished player. He has a ton of room to grow, which could be a scary thing for opposing offensive tackles in the future. For the Chiefs, however, it's a good thing that's off to one heck of a start in the present. 

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Four Takeaways From the Chiefs' 19-14 Loss to the Bears

Four Takeaways From the Chiefs' 19-14 Loss to the Bears

Here are some major takeaways from the Chiefs' first game of the 2022 preseason.

For their first preseason game of the year, the Kansas City Chiefs traveled to Soldier Field and battled some rough field conditions to square off against the Chicago Bears on the road. After taking a 14-0 lead into the locker room at halftime, the Chiefs came out in the second half and were rather sluggish. They allowed the Bears to come all the way back, giving up 19 unanswered points. Despite having one final possession to win the game, Kansas City was unable to come back and secure the win. 

Here are four takeaways from Saturday's game.

1. Opening possessions were fantastic

The Chiefs certainly didn't waste any time reminding the NFL of how good they can be when they're firing on all cylinders. After winning the coin toss and deferring, Steve Spagnuolo's defense made a couple of sound tackles and capped things off with a classic Chris Jones sack. On offense, Patrick Mahomes went 6-for-7 and completed all of his passes to different receivers in his only drive of the afternoon. The running game was a bit slow to get going but other than that, Kansas City couldn't have asked for much better of a start. Both sides of the ball had sharp opening drives, and that's all that head coach Andy Reid can ask for. 

2. George Karlaftis had a great debut

When the Chiefs drafted George Karlaftis, they seemed excited about getting a player who possesses a great motor and plenty of power. Against the Bears, those two traits jumped off the screen on multiple occasions. Karlaftis finished virtually every rep he had and in addition to notching his first professional sack, he put pressure on the opposing quarterback on numerous occasions. The Purdue product's initial punch off the snap was terrific, and his burst thereafter looked surprisingly good, too. The development of Karlaftis into a consistent pass-rushing threat at the defensive end spot is going to take a while, but Saturday's showing was a positive one nonetheless. 

3. Justin Watson is a mortal lock to make the roster

Less than two weeks ago, I pondered whether Justin Watson would be able to cash in on the offseason hype he's received and parlay it into securing an actual roster spot. The training camp darling is now turning into a preseason darling as well, and his first half very well may have been enough to lock him in as the Chiefs' fifth wide receiver. Watson received a heavy dose of snaps in the opening 30 minutes of the game, hauling in five passes for 45 yards and a touchdown. He was hands-down Kansas City's most impressive wideout over that span, and his ability to double as a special-teamer makes writing his name on the depth chart in sharpie something that most should be comfortable doing at this point. 

4. The running back battle is becoming a bit clearer

Clyde Edwards-Helaire was the Chiefs' first running back on Saturday, and that shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. Behind him, though, rookie Isiah Pacheco was featured in the first quarter and got a pair of carries for six yards. Pacheco also hauled in a pass, then he wasn't utilized on offense for the rest of the game. That lack of sustained reps makes it seem as if Pacheco's roster spot is rather set in stone. 

Veteran Jerick McKinnon didn't do a ton, as it was the duo of Ronald Jones and Derrick Gore that stood out in regards to depth pieces. Unfortunately for them, though, they did so for the wrong reasons. Jones couldn't get anything going behind a backup offensive line and Gore dropped a pair of passes and fumbled the ball before leaving the game with an injury. There's still plenty of time for things to change, but it appears that the running back tiers are beginning to get a little bit clearer to decipher in theory. 

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Soldier Field Looks Rough Ahead of Chiefs at Bears

Soldier Field Looks Rough Ahead of Chiefs at Bears

The conditions at Soldier Field have seen better days as KC opens up the 2022 preseason.

The Kansas City Chiefs are in the Windy City on Saturday looking to get their 2022 preseason slate started off on a good note, but they'll also have to be cognizant of how poor the conditions are against the Chicago Bears. Soldier Field certainly isn't in great shape right now, and it doesn't take a grounds crew specialist to tell.

This tweet from Jason Lieser of the Chicago Sun-Times says it all: 

Jesse Newell of The Kansas City Star also provided a slightly different angle of the field. While the grass doesn't appear to be quite that bad from a bird's eye view, a closer look reveals what seem to be divots in the grass and plenty of bare spots throughout the field. Considering there hasn't been a single game played in the stadium yet this season, that's far less than ideal with a long year ahead for Chicago.

In fact, the conditions of Soldier Field's playing surface have been so poor that current Bears kicker (and former Chiefs kicker) Cairo Santos sought out "poorly maintained public parks" down in Florida this offseason in an effort to get a closer feel for what he'd eventually be dealing with. Here's more from Santos in Lieser's article from earlier in the week: 

"Especially Week 1, our first game of the season — I’ve seen better,” Santos said, somehow sounding surprised yet not surprised whatsoever at the same time. “It’s just what we have to deal with. The less of a problem you make it in your mind, it helps you overcome it and just go."

As always, a top goal for everyone in the preseason (and in general) is to get through games with a clean bill of health. Lackluster — or flat-out bad — field conditions can pose a challenge to accomplishing that feat. For the sake of both the Chiefs and Bears, they'll be hoping that things aren't truly as bad as they look and Soldier Field won't prove to be troublesome.

Read More: What to Look For in the Chiefs’ First Preseason Game

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What to Look For in the Chiefs’ First Preseason Game

What to Look For in the Chiefs’ First Preseason Game

Despite it being "just" the preseason, there's plenty to keep an eye on in KC's first game.

The Kansas City Chiefs unofficially kick off their 2022 season on the road against the Chicago Bears on Saturday. The first preseason game doesn’t typically provide a chance to watch the starters a lot, but it will showcase some talent that hasn’t been widely seen to this point. With that in mind, here are some things to keep an eye on during the game.

How much will the starters actually play?

Andy Reid says that his starters are going to play, but can that be trusted? It’s been well documented that the grass at Soldier Field in Chicago isn’t the most well-maintained in the league. Would Reid really risk an injury to one of his key players in week one of the preseason?

Even though Reid said his quarterbacks would each get one quarter, it seems more reasonable that Patrick Mahomes will only get one series at most. There is speculation in regards to whether he will even play at all. Stars such as Travis Kelce and Chris Jones may get similar treatments — either one series or not playing at all. Kansas City needs to be smart with its superstar players.

The case could be made for rookie starters getting extended playing time to get more reps. The first unofficial depth chart had cornerback Trent McDuffie and wide receiver Skyy Moore listed as starters while defensive end George Karlaftis was second-team behind Mike Danna.

Rookies to watch

The names listed above — McDuffie, Moore and Karlaftis — will be featured players that Chiefs Kingdom should be excited to see out on the field. Who are some other rookies to keep an eye on heading into the first preseason game?

Isiah Pacheco has jumped to the top of the list during training camp. He has garnered more practice time with the first-team offense than many projected and he is set to be the club's starting kick returner. Will Pacheco get most of the first half playing time? How will Reid use him and will he run a pretty basic offense as the Chiefs slowly begin to unleash the beast? Pacheco will be a must-watch player against the Bears.

Bryan Cook and Joshua Williams will be secondary pieces to watch after the starters come out. They could log a large amount of snaps and are interesting players who could have their names called often once the regular season rolls around. Nazeeh Johnson and Jaylen Watson could also see significant playing time against the Bears.

Leo Chenal is another player I will be keeping a close eye on. He likely wants to show off his physicality, and getting plenty of reps at the linebacker position during the preseason will give him opportunities to do so. 

Wide receiver battle

It seems like the starters at wideout are locked in at this point. JuJu Smith-Schuster, Mecole Hardman, Marquez Valdez-Scantling and Skyy Moore will be those who you see out there most of the time. The fight for the last few spots will be one of the most interesting battles of the preseason. 

Cornell Powell has shown up big this past week at training camp. The fifth-round pick from the 2021 NFL Draft seems like he has taken a step in the right direction and could be a possession receiver that makes the tough catches over the middle. Josh Gordon still has something to prove, as the Chiefs kept him around after a forgettable 2021 campaign. If there is anything left in the tank there, Gordon will need to show it and that starts against the Bears. 

Justin Watson is a name that has been popping up a lot throughout training camp. Will he become a household name by the end of the preseason? It’s tough to tell at this point. Daurice Fountain and Corey Coleman round out the list of players who have a realistic shot to make the roster. Fountain has experience on special teams and has been given an opportunity in the past. If he can continue to grind, he may find himself in the mix for a roster spot again. Coleman is facing an uphill battle but will get a chance to show if he has anything left to offer.

Along the defensive line, watch for Carlos Dunlap and Danny Shelton. These are two players who were recently added to the Chiefs' roster through free agency, and they are aiming to add depth to a front that was seen as a liability heading into the offseason.

Week one in the preseason will everyone an idea of the depth the Chiefs have acquired during the offseason. The rookie additions, along with the free agents, will have plenty of time to shine during the preseason. At the end of the day, it’s up to those players to prove that they deserve spots on the roster. That work officially starts today against the Bears. 

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How to Watch Kansas City Chiefs at Chicago Bears

How to Watch Kansas City Chiefs at Chicago Bears

Here's how you can follow along as the Chiefs play their first game since last postseason.

After going 12-5 in the 2021 season and falling just short of getting to the Super Bowl, the Kansas City Chiefs will play their first official game since their crushing AFC Championship Game loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. On Saturday, Kansas City is the road team and will be squaring off against the Chicago Bears to begin their 2022 preseason slate. 

The Chiefs and Bears have met 13 times in their history (regular season-wise), with both squads splitting their last 10 outings against each other and Kansas City coming away with the win last time. Things are quite different now for the Bears under new head coach Matt Eberflus, as they'll be looking to usher in a new era of football and start things on a good note. Plenty has changed for the Chiefs, too, but their overall expectation remains the same: set the tone for a long and successful year ahead. 

This game is important for both clubs in regards to those on the bubble of the team, as squads will be forced to cut down their rosters from 90 players to 85 on Tuesday. Preseason trends don't always correlate with regular-season success, but there's still a lot to play for in Saturday's contest. For the Chiefs, don't expect their starters to stay on the field for long but do keep an eye on how backups perform over the course of the afternoon. 

Here's how you can follow along with the Chiefs as they play today.

Time: 12:00 p.m. CT

TV Channel: NBC (KSHB-TV 41 in local market)

Live Stream: fuboTV

Listen: WDAF (106.5 FM) Chiefs Radio Network

Line: Chiefs -0.5 (per SI Sportsbook)

The Saturday afternoon broadcast will feature the quartet of Ari Wolfe, Matt McMullen, Kimmi Chex and Chiefs legend Trent Green. Tra Blake and crew will officiate the matchup.

For updates throughout the game and after the action has concluded, including plenty of postgame content, keep it locked in right here at Arrowhead Report and follow us on Twitter @ArrowheadReport for additional coverage, commentary and more!

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Hall of Fame Chiefs QB Len Dawson Enters Hospice Care at Age 87

Hall of Fame Chiefs QB Len Dawson Enters Hospice Care at Age 87

Hall of Fame Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Len Dawson has reportedly entered hospice care at the age of 87. Dawson will forever be one of the most accomplished athletes in Kansas City sports history.

Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback and Kansas City Chiefs legend Len Dawson has entered hospice care, "a close family friend" confirmed to Vahe Gregorian of The Kansas City Star

Dawson quarterbacked the Chiefs to the first AFL-NFL World Championship Game (now known as Super Bowl I) and to the franchise's first Super Bowl victory in Super Bowl IV on Jan. 11, 1970.

Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1987, Dawson remains the Chiefs' all-time leader in passing yards, touchdowns, and quarterback wins. He signed with the AFL's Dallas Texans in 1962, one season before the Texans moved to Kansas City. Dawson went on to become a seven-time Pro Bowler,  In the AFL, Dawson won four passing titles and was a six-time All-Star.

On Aug. 8, 1987, Dawson was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and ended his enshrinement speech with a message of thanks for his home state of Ohio before addressing the city that had become his home.

"This week has been so special. The treatment that we have received here in Canton, Ohio has been nothing but the very, very best. The people have been tremendous in helping us to do whatever we possibly can to get over the nervous feeling right now. The people from Canton are great, but you know something, I’ve always known that, because this is where I grew up. The people of Kansas City, for those of you who don’t know this place, is some kind of town. The people of Kansas City are tremendous; they have been tremendous to me and my family and to the Kansas City Chiefs. I am very proud, very proud to be here. This has been the greatest week of my life. Thank you very much."

Dawson, who earned the nickname "Lenny The Cool" during his playing days, stayed front-and-center in Kansas City for decades after his retirement, starting as KMBC Channel 9's first sports director in 1966, while he was still playing for the Chiefs.

In a 2017 story on chiefs.com, this era was recounted by Dan Israel, executive producer of the Chiefs' radio network, and current Chiefs head coach Andy Reid.

"Practice would end at like 4:30 and he would pop off his shoulder pads, grab a mic and interview a player right then and there before he showered or anything," Israel explained. "Then they would rush the film downtown for processing, Lenny would shower get dressed and go to Channel 9 and then like 15 minutes before they went on air, the film would arrive.

"That's the kind of chaos he was dealing with on a daily basis while he was playing."

"I love those pictures where he's got his football pants on and he's interviewing one of the players. That's unbelievable," Chiefs coach Andy Reid laughed. "It was a different time and era, and he was at the beginning of that. He busted his tail to become one of the best at it and still had all of the respect of the players and the organization."

Dawson spent more than 50 years in broadcasting after (and during) nearly two decades of playing. Dawson retired from the Chiefs' radio network in 2017.

As noted by Vahe Gregorian of The Kansas City Star in a story about Dawson's retirement from the radio booth in 2017, Dawson had "quadruple bypass heart surgery and a battle with prostate cancer a few years ago and a more recent episode of shingles and some memory lapses" as a series of health issues later in life.

This story will be updated as necessary, including when the Chiefs or the Dawson family announce memorial services or other opportunities for fans to celebrate and remember Dawson's life and memory.

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Four Chiefs With the Most on the Line in the Preseason

Four Chiefs With the Most on the Line in the Preseason

While the preseason means very little to some veterans on the Chiefs roster, it will mean everything to others.

For a player such as Travis Kelce, there's very little to prove in the preseason. The Kansas City Chiefs' coaches, fans, and the organization in general know what Kelce will bring on and off the field. As such, his snaps in the preseason mean virtually nothing for his standing on the roster.

Taking a step down from the level of Kelce, even a player like Frank Clark has little on the line. While Clark has been disappointing so far in his Chiefs career, he will be a starting edge rusher no matter how he plays in one drive against the Chicago Bears.

To find players on the Chiefs' roster with plenty to play for, one has to peer down the depth chart a bit. There are a handful of players sitting on the bubble with a lot on the line for each snap, drive, half they play in the preseason before the team cuts down from 90 to 53 players.

Ronald Jones, RB

The feeling around Ronald Jones has not been trending positively for a few weeks now.

When Jones signed with the Chiefs in free agency, it seemed locked in that he would have a role behind Clyde Edwards-Helaire despite his limitations in the passing game as a receiver and blocker. It now seems that those limitations could see Jones jettisoned from the roster entirely.

Jones will be fighting for his spot in every single game this preseason, trying to hold off the likes of Jerick McKinnon and seventh-round draft pick and training camp darling Isiah Pacheco. If Jones doesn't beat out either of those backup running backs and the Chiefs opt to carry only three on the roster, that would leave Jones on the streets.

For Jones to make the roster, he's going to have to seriously impress as a runner or show unprecedented growth as a receiver and blocker. The former is possible, while the latter doesn't seem so considering his career to this point.

Josh Gordon, WR

Despite playing 219 offensive snaps during the 2021 season for the Chiefs, Josh Gordon only recorded 5 receptions for 32 yards.

Despite bringing Gordon back, the Chiefs invested very little to do so — extending a futures contract to Gordon at the beginning of the season. The 31-year-old is very much on thin ice right now.

What is working against Gordon is simply that he does not play special teams. Gordon has only recorded five special teams snaps over the course of his whole career. With the first four wide receiver roster spots locked in, will the Chiefs want to roster a wideout at the bottom of the depth chart who doesn't play special teams?

This lack of special teams acumen is especially concerning, as the Chiefs have wide receivers pushing Gordon such as Daurice Fountain, Cornell Powell and Justin Watson who can and will play on special teams. 

The only way Gordon can make the Chiefs' final roster is if he plays incredibly at wide receiver in the preseason so he forces their hand to keep him. It's either that or he excels on special teams, an aspect of football he has never really played.

Joshua Kaindoh, DE

Is it too early to say Kaindoh’s future with the Chiefs is hanging in the balance? The late fourth-round pick from the 2021 NFL Draft played 46 total snaps for the team last year and was put on injured reserve as the team headed into the playoffs.

The expectation was always that Kaindoh needed time to develop as the former five-star high school recruit was a “ball of clay” type of prospect. Heading into Kaindoh’s second year, though, the numbers might just not work out.

There are already four locked-in defensive ends on the Chiefs roster: Clark, George Karlaftis, Carlos Dunlap and Mike Danna. Last year, the Chiefs rostered five defensive ends. If that pattern holds, there's one defensive spot up for grabs.

The issue for Kaindoh is that, so far, Malik Herring has gotten more buzz than him. In fact, Kaindoh has had almost no buzz at all thus far in camp. If Kaindoh wants to make the final 53-man roster and get some snaps in the regular season to prove himself, he first needs to make the most of the snaps he gets in the preseason.

Khalen Saunders, DT

Khalen Saunders, the uber-athletic big man from the 2019 draft, seems to be on his last gasp with the Chiefs.

Saunders was a player the Chiefs had to develop, coming from a smaller college and looking pretty raw on tape, but his athleticism enticed them back in 2019. Now, in Saunders’s fourth year with the team, the potential has just not materialized.

Saunders has only played in 22 games the past three years for the Chiefs, which includes 12 games in his rookie year. Whatever is going on behind the scenes with him and his performance has not turned into playing time. Injuries have also played a role.

With the Chiefs having three locked-in starters at defensive tackle in Chris Jones, Derrick Nnadi and Tershawn Wharton, Saunders is fighting for that last spot. The club brought in Taylor Stallworth and Danny Shelton to compete too, though, so Saunders has as much competition as he has ever seen for that spot. In order to make the roster, Saunders needs to show that he has the chops for every single snap he plays.

Whether it be journeyman veterans or young, underperforming draftees alike, the combination of Jones, Gordon, Kaindoh and Saunders has to make the most of its snaps in the preseason. That starts against the Chicago Bears this weekend. For them, every snap will count if they want to stay on the Chiefs' roster and maybe in the NFL overall.

It is time to put up or get cut.

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Kansas City Chiefs 2022 Prop Bets

Kansas City Chiefs 2022 Prop Bets

Let's take a look at some of the best bets for the Chiefs this upcoming season.

Gambling has become increasingly popular in the sports world. People can bet on almost anything nowadays. It used to be that folks had to go to Vegas to place a wager but with the growth of online sportsbooks, one can bet on sports with the click of a button. 

As a result, props have become one of the most attractive things to bet on. These prop bets are related to the games on the field but don't always have to do with the game's outcome. Let's go through some of my favorite Kansas City Chiefs-related prop bets.

For those who have never placed a bet or don't understand how betting lines work, here is a brief introduction:

  • If the line is -120: put down $12 to win $10
  • If the line is -175: put down $17.50 to win $10
  • If the line is +120: put down $10 to win $12
  • If the line is +250: put down $10 to win $25

Clyde Edwards-Helaire rushing yards: Over 700.5 (-115)

Clyde Edwards-Helaire is undervalued by the market, most likely due to the addition of Ronald Jones. Though the Chiefs added Jones this offseason, they have given every indication that Edwards-Helaire is the lead running back right now. Edwards-Helaire had 803 yards on the ground in his rookie season, which clears the 700 bar. However, he also did that in only 13 games. Now the season is 17 games, which should give him more opportunities to surpass that 700-yard mark. Assuming he stays healthy throughout the season, Edwards-Helaire should easily get over 700 and might even push for 1,000 yards on the ground.

Skyy Moore receiving yards: Under 680.5 (-115)

Skyy Moore was just drafted in the second round, has shown flashes in training camp and is already getting praised by his teammates. It's easy to get excited about Moore, but it isn't quite his time yet. Comparing him to Mecole Hardman, another (somewhat) recent Chiefs second-rounder, is probably the easiest way to look at this. Like Hardman, Moore will likely be wideout No. 4 on the depth chart. Though Moore is a better player than Hardman was in his rookie season, Hardman benefitted from Tyreek Hill missing a quarter of the season. Hardman only racked up 538 receiving yards with that benefit in his rookie season. Moore will have moments where he shines, but 680.5 yards is too much for Moore in his rookie season.

Jul 27, 2022; St. Joseph, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Skyy Moore (24) attempts a one handed catch as cornerback Trent McDuffie (21) defends during training camp at Missouri Western State University. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Travis Kelce receiving yards: Over 1100.5 (-110) & Receptions: Over 90.5 (-120)

Due to all the offensive changes, many fans are talking about the new pieces and how their numbers look. Let's keep it simple by betting on the one weapon that has been reliable for years: Travis Kelce. Kelce has had six straight 1,000-yard seasons and that's with him and Hill being 1-A and 1-B within the offense. With Hill gone, Kelce is now the clear-cut first option for Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs' offense. Mahomes has the most trust in Kelce among any pass-catching weapons. That trust will be relied upon early in the season as the rest of the offense is building chemistry. This might be crazy to say, but Kelce might be in for a career year.

Over 10.5 wins (-125)

Since Andy Reid became the head coach of the Chiefs in 2013, their win totals have been 11, 9, 11, 12, 10, 12, 12, 14 and 12. That's 11 or more wins in seven of the nine years of his tenure. It gets even better with Mahomes at quarterback. The combination of Reid and Mahomes has never won fewer than 12 games in a season. That extra game on the schedule now gives them even more room for error. The 2022 schedule is tough on paper, but that has become a constant in Kansas City throughout the last few years. In 2021, the team struggled out the gate yet still finished with 12 wins. Over 10.5 feels like a steal.

AFC West winner (+150)

Six straight AFC West titles. Similar to win totals, the Chiefs have been dominant in divisional games with the Reid-Mahomes combination. That combination boasts a record of 21-3 against AFC West foes. Winning those matchups is the first step to winning the division, and there is no team better at doing it than the Chiefs. Reid has always emphasized winning those intra-division games and takes extra time during training camp to work on those specific gameplans. While the national folk is plotting the Chiefs' demise, expect Mahomes, Reid and company to continue their dominance in the division, leading to their seventh straight AFC West crown.

The six bets above are the ones I'd put the most stake in, but let's talk about two more that Chiefs fans will be interested in.

AFC champion (+450) & Super Bowl champion (+900)

These are the longest lines on this list, meaning that there's more bang-for-buck if these outcomes happen. Everyone knows the resume of the Chiefs over the last four years: four AFC Championship Game appearances and two Super Bowl appearances with one ultimate championship win. Although the Chiefs have a different look than years past, they are still built to contend and win it all. They have the quarterback, coach, and playmakers around them to compete at the highest level. 

The most significant question mark for the Chiefs is their defense. With all the turnover on that side of the ball, the defensive unit must come together to allow them to be in the mix come January and February. Another thing the Chiefs have going for them is their pedigree in big games. Every player who has been on the Chiefs for at least a year has played in a high-stakes NFL game. That experience isn't something to take lightly, and it's helped the team tremendously in the past.

Feb 2, 2020; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Kansas City Chiefs owner Clark Hunt and Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) celebrate with the Vince Lombardi Trophy in Super Bowl LIV at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

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Report: Chiefs Sign Veteran DT, Bolster Interior Defensive Line Rotation

Report: Chiefs Sign Veteran DT, Bolster Interior Defensive Line Rotation

KC adds a run-stuffer to their defensive line ahead of their first preseason game.

The Kansas City Chiefs have needed some additional help along the interior of their defensive line this summer, and the team has finally found its match. Per Adam Schefter of ESPN, Kansas City is signing defensive tackle Danny Shelton to a one-year deal. 

Chiefs and veteran free-agent defensive tackle Danny Shelton have agreed to terms on a one-year contract, per his agents @DrewJRosenhaus and @RyanMatha. Shelton was most recently with the Giants.

- Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter on Tuesday, August 9 2022 at 2:59 p.m.

Shelton, who turns 29 on August 20, has spent his NFL career with the Cleveland Browns, New England Patriots, Detroit Lions and New York Giants. He boasts career totals of 100 games played, 278 tackles (17 for loss), 19 quarterback hits, six sacks and two passes broken up. The former Washington Huskies standout is set to enter his eighth season in the league and will now join his fifth team overall.

Last season, as a member of the Giants, Shelton appeared in 13 games and played a career-low 29% of the team's snaps. Conversely, he spent the most time he ever has on the special teams unit (35%). Shelton amassed 31 tackles (one for loss) and half a sack in those contests, which were his lowest totals since 2017. By many accounts, it was an underwhelming season from a player who normally performs at a solid level.

In a 2022 free agency primer published in February of this year, here's what Stephen Lebitsch of Giants Country had to say about whether the team should have kept its run-stuffing defensive lineman:

Shelton was not a good fit with what the Giants ran on defense last year, and we sincerely question if he'd be a better fit for what Don Martindale has been known to run in the past. With cap dollars at a premium, we suspect the Giants will try to pick up a nose guard in the draft and move on from the disappointing Shelton. 

What does the Danny Shelton signing mean for the Chiefs?

By adding Shelton into the mix, not a lot changes for Kansas City as far as its interior defensive line starters are concerned. Pro Bowler Chris Jones is a lock at defensive tackle (or three-technique), and Derrick Nnadi was brought back on a one-year deal to serve as the starting, run-stuffing nose tackle the club has grown to love over the years. Behind them and rotational pass-rusher Tershawn Wharton, however, not a ton is known.

Taylor Stallworth was brought in during the offseason to serve as competition, although his roster spot was never a guarantee and a knee injury has limited his ability to remain on the field and make an impact in training camp. Austin Edwards and Khalen Saunders are the other names to consider here (Edwards is a bit of a hybrid player). Word has been near-silent on both of them throughout camp thus far, though. Saunders may have the inside edge there and is entering a contract year, but his lack of signature breakout moments could leave both him and Edwards as the odd men out once roster cuts come around.

The Chiefs' first preseason game of the year — Saturday afternoon against the Chicago Bears — will help sort out some of their roster crunch problems, and that situation now applies to the interior defensive line as well. Zack Eisen of Arrowhead Report predicts that Kansas City's final rotation will be Jones, Nnadi, Wharton and the newly-signed Shelton. Time will tell if that turns out to be the case.

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What Would It Take for Mecole Hardman to Hit His 1,000-Yard Goal?

What Would It Take for Mecole Hardman to Hit His 1,000-Yard Goal?

Suddenly the most-experienced Chiefs receiver in the room, what qualifies as a successful season for Hardman?

Call it ironic if you wish, but as the Kansas City Chiefs have opened up their first few weeks of training camp, it feels as though every player — at some point — has had his moment in the sun. Seventh-round pick Isiah Pacheco has both made his name known and spelled correctly; Skyy Moore has needed all of two weeks to force the NFL to likely wonder, “How did we allow Kansas City to draft him?” Towards the tail end of the week, the arrow of appreciation appeared to spin Mecole Hardman’s way.

It could go left unsaid, but it's always important to take seven-on-seven reps in early August with a grain of salt or two. There’s always a question of what truly matters and what doesn’t

But if you were grading Hardman on one of those elementary grading scales (“S” for satisfactory, “N” for needs improvement, etc.), it’s expected to rank his speed with an “S” and his ability to separate as a route-running technician or contested-catch specialist as a work in progress. That makes little developments like this all the more wholesome.

Or this: 

Sift through Chiefs Twitter, and you’ll notice that almost anyone with the ability to generate a conversation has noted something in regards to Hardman’s recent string of practices.

He’s spoken publicly about both his willingness and ability to pigeonhole into Tyreek Hill’s role of taking the top off of a defense. That much was already known, though. Hardman hasn’t been asked to make contested snags a ton or dissect one-on-one coverage with a deceptive route. His 5.9% contested catch rate (on 17 targets) is the No. 97 rank, and his 1.60 yards of target separation is the 54th-best rank in the NFL. This would be a part of the next step of his evolution.

That Hardman is making said strides route-runner bodes well, essentially since he’s already earned Patrick Mahomes’s vote of confidence as a go-to deep threat. Hardman tokened that phrase “take the top off” and since it applies here, why not use it as well? It’s convenient that these growths in his game also take the top off, or raise the overall ceiling of his potential play in 2022-23.

Hardman made his 1,000-yard goal public back in February. In hitting that benchmark, the stage would almost certainly be set for both a “successful season” and a payday shortly thereafter. When considering the amount of vacated targets up for (literal) grabs, if there were ever a season to do it, this would be the one. Under that same line of thinking, Hardman’s increasing year-over-year yardage totals provide little pause in that he simply can’t do it for a fourth consecutive season. 

The lack of a 1,000-yard scrimmage season to this point gives it about as much excitement as a T.J. Maxx clearance sale, but continual improvement can’t be denied. It’s arguable that some of the same things that helped his opportunity — such as the gravity and fear that Hill and Travis Kelce put into opposing defenders’ hearts — are the same things that limited them. In 2022-23, with 340 vacated targets, something has to give.

Not that it would’ve necessarily helped Hardman surpass the 1,000-yard mark, but his film last season was littered with little decisive moments that could have upped his numbers even slightly. This underthrow against the Chargers immediately comes to mind. He’s proven that he can make the most of his touches, or something close to it: Of the players with under 85 targets last season, his catches (59) and yards (693) rank first and third, respectively. 

Of the players with under 200 targets over the last three years, Hardman ranks second in yards (1,791), fourth in catches (126) and tied for fifth in touchdowns (12). If anything in the world is fair, an increase in role and expectation will subsequently increase productivity.

To put the numbers aside for just a second, it’s also important to remember where the Chiefs’ wide receiver room is for a moment. If you’ve survived the first 700-ish words of this article, you can probably take a wild guess on who the most experienced wide receiver on this team is when it comes to Chiefs’ terminology and roster stability. That, as Hardman jovially noted in an analogy and joke-filled press conference on Saturday, could mean something. For the first time in his career, younger wideouts are asking him questions. He’s suddenly become the grizzled, old veteran.

Chiefs fans are expecting the fountain of youth to have an effect on defensive veterans (see Frank Clark and George Karlaftis), and it’s possible that the spirit of competition and new wideouts does the same for experienced offensive talent, too.

That experience could also play a role in how creative Andy Reid and the coaching staff get in terms of putting Hardman in different positions and alignments such as the Wildcat, as they’ve done already. In any case, the ensuing weeks (and months) will tell the story itself. In perhaps the greatest opportunity he’s had just yet, Hardman is positioned to up his ante for a fourth straight season.

And for the Chiefs’ sake, here’s to hoping he’s ready to deliver it not just with Amazon speed, but with Amazon Prime speed.

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Buying or Selling Hype for Three Chiefs Camp Standouts

Buying or Selling Hype for Three Chiefs Camp Standouts

Three rookies are receiving tons of hype, but is it legit enough to buy into this early in the year?

The preseason hasn't even officially started for the Kansas City Chiefs, yet their 2022 NFL Draft class is already being praised by many as an impressive one on the field. General manager Brett Veach put his faith in youth this offseason when he revamped multiple positions and opted for new-age depth and athleticism over veteran leadership. The early results are positive.

At training camp this summer, as is the case in any other year, there are certain players receiving more hype than others. Historically, a great deal of that camp hype leads to underwhelming results once the regular season rolls around — especially with rookies. With that said, Kansas City is in a unique position. If its rookies do manage to rise to the top, it will be because they beat some darn good players along the way. That's what comes with playing on such a high-level team.

In the spirit of that, let's dive into three of the most-hyped Chiefs newcomers and decide whether to buy or sell the buzz surrounding them right now.

1. Skyy Moore — WR

Skyy Moore, the Chiefs' second-round pick from this year's draft, has been one of the team's best players in training camp thus far. Despite suffering a hip injury last week, Moore returned to practice the following day and hasn't skipped a beat since then. The Western Michigan product is a poised player who runs crisp routes and has a knack for finding ways to get open. He isn't your typical rookie.

With that said, standing out as a first-year player in an Andy Reid offense is extremely difficult. Some would deem it virtually impossible, as the team runs such an intricate offense that allows for more creative liberty but also calls for more discipline and attention to detail. Moore's transition to the NFL should be a relatively smooth one but the offense he plays in, combined with the number of players ahead of him (likely three), makes it tough to see him becoming anything more than a fourth option in the offense in year one. His performances in camp are great and can be legitimate representations of who he is, but that won't lead to a regular-season breakout. 

Verdict: Sell... for now. 

2. Isiah Pacheco — RB

When the Chiefs selected Rutgers running back Isiah Pacheco in the seventh round, the general consensus was that the team was merely taking a flier on a player with impressive speed. A few months later, though, the first-year halfback is getting heavy reps with the first-team offense in training camp and will open the preseason as Kansas City's primary kick returner. That's a drastic change in such a short amount of time, thus generating one heck of a cloud of smoke. 

From strictly a special teams standpoint, Pacheco should be able to stick on the roster. I'd almost lean that he's a near-lock at this point. That favor with special teams coordinator Dave Toub matters in camp, and it'll likely get him a spot. Offensively, though, there just doesn't seem to be enough of a role for Pacheco to go around. 

The jury is still out on Ronald Jones and Jerick McKinnon's statuses behind lead back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, but who's to say that the same logic can't be applied to Pacheco? Standing out in training camp and leapfrogging a pair of backs for significant reps in the regular season are two separate things. There's so much about Pacheco that's still unknown and judging by the hype, one would anticipate that he's penciled in for a third-down role or something similar. In reality, that simply doesn't seem to be the case. 

Verdict: Buy the special teams role, sell the offensive role. 

3. Joshua Williams — CB

Coming from Fayetteville State to the NFL sounds like a challenge, and it is. As such, many viewed the Joshua Williams selection in the fourth round as more of a developmental pick (similar to Jaylen Watson in the seventh round). Due to cornerback Rashad Fenton's ongoing shoulder rehab that still has him on the physically unable to perform list, though, Williams is getting plenty of opportunities to showcase what he can do. By just about all accounts from camp, he's done well and may be ahead of schedule. 

With the Chiefs' cornerback situation currently shaping up to be a downright cage match between rookies and veterans alike, not many spots are set in stone. Aside from L'Jarius Sneed and Trent McDuffie, just about everyone else currently participating in camp is left fighting for a spot on the 53-man roster and a good slot on the depth chart. Williams's length (6-foot-2, near-33-inch arms) and high-end athleticism project to come in handy once he settles in, and the fact that he's getting an opportunity due to Fenton being out and surprising a ton of people while getting a ton of tough assignments seems mostly real. Who knows what will happen once Fenton — a solid, proven starter — gets back but for now, buying the Williams hype isn't crazy.

Verdict: Buy until Fenton gets back. 

Tucker Franklin of KC Sports Network joined me on Monday's Roughing the Kicker podcast — his first time back on the show since hosting it over a year ago — to discuss some of his best observations from Chiefs training camp. If you'd like to listen to our full conversation featuring commentary on just about every position group on the team, you can do so below. 

For more Kansas City Chiefs coverage and analysis, be sure to subscribe to the 'Roughing the Kicker' podcast. RTK is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever else you listen to your favorite programs.

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Iron Is Sharpening Iron at Chiefs Training Camp

Iron Is Sharpening Iron at Chiefs Training Camp

The 2022 Chiefs defense will look different, but things are slowly beginning to come together.

As the Kansas City Chiefs continue their 2022 training camp in preparation for the regular season, there's one theme that's rising above all: competition.

This competition is evident in many different areas. On the field, players are pitted against each other in an effort to simulate in-game situations. Off the field, those same players spend their time attempting to master the nuances of their units (offense, defense or special teams). On the depth chart, that's where the on- and off-field elements will intersect. Iron is currently sharpening iron and luckily for Kansas City, having such sharp iron to begin with is a great thing. Rookie cornerback Trent McDuffie recently spoke about the team's level of competition following a practice.

“Yeah, I think the competition, especially in the defense is just overall, as a team, has been huge," McDuffie said. "Going against guys like Patrick Mahomes and Offensive Coordinator (Eric Bieniemy) where this offense is a high scoring, high down the field, stretch offense. And as DBs especially, that gives us something to prove because we go out there every day knowing that we are going to compete against the best receivers, against the best quarterback and make plays so it just adds to the confidence and competition to everyday at practice.”

Earlier this offseason, the Chiefs let go of arguably their highest-level competitor on defense. Safety Tyrann Mathieu was the heart and soul of Steve Spagnuolo's unit, yet the team opted to replace him with the much younger Justin Reid once the 25-year-old's contract with the Houston Texans expired. Throughout the offseason, Reid has emerged as a leader on defense and is working in tandem with fellow safety Juan Thornhill to usher in a new-look secondary. When asked about their progress, Thornhill said things are going well. 

“I think we’re getting there," Thornhill said. "We still have a lot of work to do because each and every day you’re always looking to improve but Justin (Reid), he’s picking up on the playbook really well. I think he’s doing a heck of a job and making a lot of plays on the ball. I feel like we've got a real good secondary unit this year.”

The amount of change the Chiefs are seeing in the defensive backfield is staggering. In addition to the signing of Reid, general manager Brett Veach also brought in safety Deon Bush and drafted rookies Bryan Cook and Nazeeh Johnson. At cornerback, McDuffie is joined by fellow rookies Joshua Williams and Jaylen Watson, as well as trade acquisition Lonnie Johnson. The competition is steep, and so is the learning curve. According to McDuffie, though, it's helping. 

“Yeah, I mean we started obviously with our bumps and bruises over springtime and over summer, but I think right now just repetitions have given us so much more confidence," McDuffie said. "I feel like (when) we’re out there on these long drive drills and we’re tired and it feels like nothing’s going our way, to be able to come together in the huddle and kind of form as a group, form as a bond and understand that we’re in this together and that we can go out there right now against the offense, that adds a lot to our confidence and a lot to our defense.”

As the Chiefs continue with training camp and get into their preseason games, keep an eye on the secondary. Some players are managing to stand out more than others — in both good and bad ways — and with three different cut-down days looming for the rest of the month, every trend is one worth watching. One thing is being made perfectly clear about the iron that ends up sticking, though: it'll be sharp.

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Report: Chiefs Release CB Deandre Baker

Report: Chiefs Release CB Deandre Baker

The Chiefs part ways with their young cornerback less than two years since originally signing him.

The Kansas City Chiefs rebuilt nearly their entire secondary this offseason, and a familiar face is no longer a part of the team. Per Adam Teicher of ESPN, the club has released cornerback Deandre Baker. 

The Chiefs released CB DeAndre Baker, a former first-round pick by the Giants. He was down on the depth chart after the Chiefs drafted Trent McDuffie, Josh Williams and Jaylen Watson and traded for Lonnie Johnson.

- Adam Teicher (@adamteicher) on Sunday, August 7 at 7:53 a.m. CST

Baker, who signed to the Chiefs' practice squad back in November of 2020, was inching closer to two full years in Kansas City at the time of his release. The former New York Giants first-round pick from 2019 came into town looking for a fresh start following off-the-field troubles that led to the end of his tenure in New York. He accomplished the feat of hitting the reset button in Kansas City, although he never quite managed to break out on the field. His Chiefs career began with a broken left femur in the club's final regular-season game of the 2020-21 campaign. 

In 10 games with the Chiefs (two starts) over the course of the 2020 and 2021 seasons, Baker logged 21 tackles (one for loss) while recording two passes broken up and one sack. He played 35% of the team's defensive snaps in 2020, then raised that number to 39% last season. He also contributed on special teams, playing 20 and 25% of those snaps, respectively, with the Chiefs during those two seasons. Last year saw Baker post a 60.0 composite Pro Football Focus grade

Back in June of this year, Baker signed his exclusive rights free agent (ERFA) tender with the Chiefs. That all but ensured that he'd be back with the team for another run, although that run came up well short of the regular season or playoffs. Still looking for his first career interception, Baker now hits the open market also looking for a statement season that can get his previous career arc back on track. Baker will turn just 25 years old in September.

What does this mean for the Chiefs?

Just last week, Zack Eisen of Arrowhead Report wrote about the insane amount of competition within the Chiefs' cornerback room. He described Baker as a "long shot" to make the final 53-man roster, saying the following about the young defensive back: 

Outside of Sneed, Deandre Baker is the only cornerback with experience playing in Spagnuolo’s system. Experience is typically positive in these positional battles, but it is a disservice to Baker. Last season, the Chiefs chose to continuously play Mike Hughes and other cornerbacks instead of putting Baker on the field. As a result, he is truly on the outside looking in. Unless he impresses in a big way during training camp and the preseason, it will be nearly impossible for Baker to crack the roster.

The Chiefs have plenty of prominent cornerbacks projected to fit into this year's depth chart. At the top, L'Jarius Sneed and first-round pick Trent McDuffie should slot into two of the premier starting roles. McDuffie will be pushed by Rashad Fenton, however, who is still on the physically unable to perform list but has played starting-caliber football for a few years in a row. Fourth-round pick Joshua Williams is turning heads at training camp, and the Fayetteville State product has the combination of length and athleticism to be a serious threat to gain playing time in year one. 

Outside of Williams, the duo of Lonnie Johnson and Dicaprio Bootle is fighting for roster spots. Rookies Jaylen Watson and Nazeeh Johnson can also be lumped in there, although the latter was drafted as a safety and faces an uphill battle to avoid roster cuts. Baker and Chris Lammons were re-signed this offseason, although Baker's fate has been decided and Lammons' odds of making the team aren't looking terrific at this point in time. 

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Chiefs Sign WR Coming off Season in USFL

Chiefs Sign WR Coming off Season in USFL

Despite already being loaded at WR, the Chiefs add another one during training camp.

The Kansas City Chiefs are already pretty deep at wide receiver after reloading at the position this offseason, but that isn't stopping them from adding even more talent. Per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network and Gray's agent Alex Guminski, Kansas City is signing wideout Devin Gray to a one-year deal.

The Chiefs are signing WR Devin Gray to a 1-year deal after a solid workout, per his agent @alexguminski. Gray is most recently from the USFL and has spent time with the Falcons and Ravens. 

- Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) on Saturday, August 6 2022 at 1:25 p.m. CST

Gray, who turned 27 in June, signed with the Atlanta Falcons as an undrafted rookie free agent back in 2018 and subsequently spent time on their practice squad before being waived in August of the following year. He then re-signed with Atlanta on a reserves/futures deal, went through the process of being added to the practice squad again and even got elevated to the gameday 53-man roster for the final regular-season contest of the club's 2020-21 campaign.

Following his tenure with the Falcons, Gray was briefly a member of the Baltimore Ravens after signing with the team in June of last year. After being released and added back as a practice squad member thereafter, he was released for good in late September. Since then, he's played with the Philadelphia Stars of the United States Football League.

Going as a 13th-round selection in the USFL Draft earlier this year, Gray hauled in 26 passes for 215 yards and a pair of touchdowns over the course of the season earlier this year. The 6-foot, 192-pound wideout is a University of Cincinnati alum who recorded 86 receptions for 1,304 yards and eight touchdowns in his career with the team. Gray boasts an 8.59 Relative Athletic Score and projects to serve as even more competition for a Chiefs squad that already has players such as Josh Gordon, Daurice Fountain, Corey Coleman, Cornell Powell, Justin Watson and others fighting for the final spot or two on the team's 2022 wide receiver depth chart. 

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