During the dog-days of summer, the NFL remains in the news, but typically because players are finding themselves getting in trouble, blowing fingers off on the 4th of July, or contract talks and potential hold-outs, however, training camp will soon arrive and mid-August means preseason football.
Kansas City, currently in the news for on-going contract talk with sack leader Justin Houston, have its sites set on 8/15, the first preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals.
For the starters and star players, it means limited reps and a chance to get on the field against an opponent other than their own teammates, and to run a few simple plays, but for the back-ups and fringe 52-man roster players, it’s a chance to show out and impress the coaches in order to remain apart of the team which will head into the regular season following the fourth and final tune-up against the St. Louis Rams on September 3rd.
Recently, star defensive player Derrick Johnson, who suffered a season-ending injury last year, told media he is, “itching to get back out there,” and is ready for his return to action. With Johnson, KC’s defense becomes one of the more formidable units in the NFL.
Signing Justin Houston to a new long-term deal is equally important, if not more-so because of his youth. With the duo of Johnson and Houston, the pass rush and defensive pressure the Chiefs are able to put on opponents makes them a conference championship contender in the AFC.
The addition of Jeremy Maclin on the offensive end is a welcome addition to a team which hasn’t thrown a touchdown to a receiver in more than a season and a half.
If the Chiefs are to have the type of success needed to make a run in the playoffs, this season, QB Alex Smith will need to get the ball downfield to his receivers and open up the running game and underneath for star running back Jamaal Charles.
Over the past two seasons, despite Charles’ consistent success running and catching the ball, the Chiefs have become predicable on the offensive end of the field. Teams know Smith is looking to get it to #25, and if that isn’t available, will look to tuck the ball and run it himself.
Head coach Andy Reid knows his team cannot continue to play that type of offense and expect to not only see results on the scoreboard, but more importantly, keep Smith and Charles healthy for an entire season.
As the start of training camp gets closer, the Chiefs will determine what they have on both ends of the field and begin to piece together a championship-caliber team.
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