NFL Wire News

Unbeaten Chiefs still unproven

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The Sports Xchange

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — For the first time since the franchise’s Super Bowl season of 1969, the Kansas City Chiefs finished the preseason with an unbeaten record, beating Arizona, Seattle, Tennessee and St. Louis.

That performance did not produce any celebrating from head coach Andy Reid and his team. They will know more about their team after their first four regular-season games, starting with the opener against the Texans in Houston.

“You play to win, if it’s ping-pong or a hot dog eating contest, you play to win,” Reid said. “That is how you go about this business. You rather have it this way than the other way. It is preseason and we understand that. We are going to get ourselves ready for a good Houston team.”

The spotlight will be on the Chiefs’ development of the five guys on the field blocking for the offense. Right down to the final preseason game, Reid and his staff were still juggling the offensive line. They had second-year guard Zach Fulton start against the Rams at center, where he played the first half.

“I was impressed for the first time of him getting in at center,” Reid said of Fulton. “We did a lot of shotgun snaps and I was curious to see how he would do with that when it was live bullets. I thought he handled that well.”

Fulton’s performance allowed the Chiefs to release third-year center Eric Kush in the roster moves to 53 players. Kush began training camp as the No. 1 center, but was moved out after a week and rookie Mitch Morse replaced him. Left tackle Eric Fisher is expected back this week after missing three games because of a left ankle sprain. Fisher will line up next to left guard Ben Grubbs and it appears that second-year guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif will open at right guard with Donald Stephenson at right tackle. Jeff Allen would be in the mix but he’s still rehabbing a sprained MCL in his right knee.

Despite the constant juggling on the blocking unit, the offense had fruitful production in the practice games. Whether starter Alex Smith was leading the group, or backups Chase Daniel and Aaron Murray, the Chiefs scored 13 touchdowns and the three passers completed 74.1 percent of their throws with 11 scoring passes against four interceptions. They were sacked just four times in 139 passing plays.

“We came out this preseason and everyone, not just the ones, but the twos and threes, did really well,” said Daniel. “It says a lot about our depth in year three of the Andy Reid and (general manager) John Dorsey regime.”

The presence of one of the NFL’s best defenders and pass rushers, Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, will have the Chiefs working overtime this week, making sure the offense has a plan to protect Smith and allow room for Jamaal Charles to run the ball.

“I can’t tell you where everybody’s going to be,” Reid said of his offensive line. “We have a couple guys that are banged up. I think when you add Fisher back into the mix there, that’s a pretty good group.”

–The attention that Tardif received in his first year in Kansas City was largely tied to his status as a medical school student in Canada and not as a factor in the Chiefs’ offensive line. But that vision has taken a big turn in the summer of 2015. The sixth-round draft choice in 2014 is still working on his medical studies in Montreal, but there’s a very good chance he will be the starting right guard for the Chiefs in their season opener against Houston.

“Larry has made a good case for that right guard spot,” said head coach Andy Reid. “I’d have to tell you he’s one of the five best guys right this minute. A year ago, I probably couldn’t have told you that would happen.”

Duvernay-Tardif was inactive for all 16 games last year, keeping his spot on the 53-man roster due to his potential. There was a lot of growth he needed to show, considering his previous football experience was in the Canadian college level at McGill University in Montreal.

“The level of football there isn’t as great as their academics,” Reid said. “It’s probably equivalent to maybe some of the upper-echelon junior colleges in our country. For him to go out and improve like he’s improved and attack it the way he has, that’s pretty good.”

Notes: Nose tackle Dontari Poe’s immediate future in returning from back surgery remains unknown, but Reid hinted that the player could be ready early in the regular season. … Wide receiver/returner De’Anthony Thomas should return to the practice field this week and be available for the regular-season opener against Houston. Thomas suffered a lower leg injury in the preseason opener against Arizona, and did not play in the Chiefs’ final three games.


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