AFC West: Kansas City Chiefs

Examining the Kansas City Chiefs' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (3)

At this point, it would be a surprise only if Smith isn’t the starter, Daniel isn’t the No. 2 quarterback, and the Chiefs don’t keep Bray on their active roster. So the question is what they do with Aaron Murray. The Chiefs saw this scenario developing and didn’t draft him to set him free this quickly.

RUNNING BACKS (5)

With an unsettled offensive line and injuries at wide receiver, the Chiefs will need not only big production from Charles but significant help on offense from both Thomas and Davis.

WIDE RECEIVER (6)
Dwayne Bowe is suspended for the season's first game so I've left him off this list. Hemingway has been out for most of the preseason with injuries, and Williams and Jenkins left the Green Bay game early, Williams with an injured shoulder and Jenkins with a concussion. So the Chiefs may have to keep Mark Harrison or Fred Williams or acquire a receiver.

TIGHT END (3)

Harris had an awful game against the Packers. He still probably makes the roster.

OFFENSIVE LINE (9)

I've left Donald Stephenson off this list because of his suspension. The decision on McGlynn or Ricky Henry as a backup guard could go either way.

DEFENSIVE LINE (6)

I don't see how the Chiefs can keep Mike Catapano after he missed all of the preseason and most of training camp.

LINEBACKER (9)
Joe Mays will likely go on an injured list but perhaps return later in the year.

CORNERBACK (5)

As Gaines showed against the Packers, he is a developmental player. The Chiefs might have kept DeMarcus Van Dyke, but he suffered a high ankle sprain in Green Bay.

SAFETY (4)

Berry's injury could force the Chiefs to keep a veteran backup. Neither Bronson nor Sorensen has played in a regular-season NFL game.

SPECIALISTS (3)

It wouldn't be a surprise if the Chiefs went with either Cairo Santos or Ryan Succop as their kicker.
Most significant move: When the Kansas City Chiefs released Jerron McMillian, they parted ways with their only reserve safety who has started an NFL game. Two of the four backup safety candidates, Jonathon Amaya and Kelcie McCray, have NFL experience, but the others, Malcolm Bronson and undrafted rookie Daniel Sorensen, have never played in an NFL game. This should be of concern because starter Eric Berry has yet to play in a preseason game because of what the Chiefs are calling tendonitis in his heel. Berry has returned to practice, but look for the Chiefs to shop for an experienced backup depending on how they feel about Berry's prospects of making it through the season.

Dressler gets released: Former CFL star Weston Dressler didn’t even make it to the final round of cuts. Dressler never showed the skills for the Chiefs that made him a prolific receiver in the CFL, and it became obvious early in training camp Dressler wasn't going to stick with the Chiefs. After signing Dressler, the Chiefs drafted a small, fast slot receiver candidate in De'Anthony Thomas and signed another one in Albert Wilson. Both players showed more aptitude for the NFL game as a receiver and kick return specialist than Dressler did.

What’s next: The Chiefs still have interesting roster decisions at several positions. Among them is quarterback, where they will likely have to decide between developmental candidates Tyler Bray and rookie Aaron Murray. At wide receiver, the Chiefs have to decide whether younger players like Frankie Hammond Jr. and Albert Wilson are more valuable as backups than returning players such as Junior Hemingway and A.J. Jenkins. The Chiefs will also have to choose between veteran kicker Ryan Succop and rookie Cairo Santos.

Chiefs' cuts: WR Deon Anthony, DL Jairus Campbell, DB Sanders Commings, DL Jermelle Cudjo, WR Weston Dressler, OL Otis Hudson, WR Jerrell Jackson, CB Brandon Jones, CB Vernon Kearney, OL Ryan McKee, DB Jerron McMillian, CB Kevin Rutland, TE Adam Schiltz, CB Damond Smith, WR Darryl Surgent.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- ESPN is in the middle of unveiling this year's top 100 offensive and defensive players, but I'm already going to issue an opinion for the 2015 version.

Linebacker Justin Houston will be ranked higher next year than he was this season, when he's No. 42.

Imagine where Houston might be if he'd played an entire season last year. He was tied for the AFC lead in sacks with 11, when in the season's 11th game, Houston dislocated his elbow, ending his 2013 regular season.

So it's not a stretch to believe Houston will have another big season for the Kansas City Chiefs and, if he stays healthy, challenge for the sack title. Then he will rise above the ranking of 42.

A better question is whether Houston will be playing for the Chiefs when he is ranked higher. He's in the final year of his contract and the sides have had no success in coming to an agreement on a long-term contract.

So I'll make no prediction yet on that issue.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Kansas City Chiefs lost three regulars from last season’s offensive line during the opening days of free agency, but were confident they could absorb those blows. They still had Eric Fisher, the first pick in the 2013 draft, plus three other linemen who played a lot last season and were drafted in recent seasons in the top three rounds.

Stephenson
The Chiefs still might be right, but with the suspension of starting right tackle Donald Stephenson for the season’s first four games for violation of the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances, that premise is looking shaky.

Fisher hasn’t played well in the preseason. His arrival as a top left tackle appears a way off, it if ever happens. Neither of the guards, Jeff Allen and Zach Fulton, have been much better. The sum is a line that was pushed around in the Aug. 17 preseason loss to the Carolina Panthers.

And now the Chiefs will have to find a right tackle for the first four games between veterans Ryan Harris and Jeff Linkenbach. Harris was signed by the Chiefs shortly before the start of training camp. Linkenbach came as a free agent in March.

Another option is Allen, who played tackle in college at Illinois and has received some work there during training camp.

But whatever the Chiefs do, they can’t afford any more hits to the offensive line. The player they were initially counting on to start at right guard, Rishaw Johnson, was so disappointing in training camp that he was recently traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

As backups now, the Chiefs have center Eric Kush and guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, who look promising as developmental players but probably aren’t ready now. There’s also Harris or Linkenbach, whoever doesn’t get bumped into the starting lineup, and guard Ricky Henry, who has played well enough at camp to get the attention of the Chiefs, but has little experience.

Maybe everything will work out for the Chiefs on the offensive line, but a better guess is that at least for a while, things are going to look he way they did against Carolina. Then, they looked like the Chiefs made a bad decision to let Branden Albert, Jon Asamoah and Geoff Schwartz walk as free agents.
Matt Cassel, Teddy BridgewaterAP Photo/Ann HeisenfeltMatt Cassel, No. 16, appears to be the Vikings' No. 1 QB despite Teddy Bridgewater's strong preseason.
The third game is generally the most attractive of the NFL preseason since the starters generally play longer than in any other preseason game. So Saturday night’s meeting between the Kansas City Chiefs and Minnesota Vikings at Arrowhead Stadium could be the most interesting of this year’s exhibition schedule for both teams.

An added bonus is that Minnesota quarterback Matt Cassel was a four-year starter for the Chiefs before he was released after a dismal 2012 season in which he threw only six touchdown passes with 12 interceptions.

During his final season, in a home loss to the Baltimore Ravens, Cassel was knocked to the ground for several minutes in the fourth quarter and Chiefs fans cheered. So it should be interesting to see how Cassel is received Saturday night at Arrowhead.

ESPN.com Chiefs reporter Adam Teicher and Vikings reporter Ben Goessling discuss Cassel's return and the game.

Teicher: Matt Cassel will start at quarterback for the Vikings on Saturday night. How has he played through training camp and the preseason and what kind of fit has he been in coordinator Norv Turner’s offensive system?

Goessling: He’s played well so far, probably well enough that he’ll keep the starting job over Teddy Bridgewater. Cassel has had most of the first-team snaps, and so far in the preseason he’s been accurate and decisive. The ability to get the ball out on three- and five-step drops is a key characteristic of a successful quarterback in Turner’s system, and Cassel has done that well so far. He’s connected with tight end Kyle Rudolph -- whom the Vikings think is going to have a breakout year in Turner’s offense -- and I think Cassel will be competent, considering the pieces he has around him (Adrian Peterson, Greg Jennings, Cordarrelle Patterson, Rudolph, etc.). We’ll see how long he can hold the job, but he’s earned the right to be the top guy at this point.

When Cassel is on the field Saturday night, what kind of a test will he get from the Chiefs’ defense? How has the defense looked so far, and how much do you think the Chiefs will show on Saturday night?

[+] EnlargeSean Smith
Denny Medley/USA TODAY SportsThe Chiefs are hoping that Sean Smith can provide stability at cornerback.
Teicher: The Chiefs generally are a pressure-based defense, but it’s difficult to predict what they will do in a preseason game. They’ve done well in pressuring the quarterback when they’ve blitzed so far in the preseason, but their rush hasn’t generated much when they send only four. The Chiefs are in some disarray at cornerback. They’ve already made a change in the starting lineup, replacing Ron Parker with Sean Smith, but then Smith had a difficult game against Carolina last week. The Chiefs are also missing their best safety, Eric Berry. He hasn’t been practicing or playing because of a sore heel, and they miss him. His place is being taken by undrafted rookie Daniel Sorensen. So there should be some opportunities for big plays for Cassel and his receivers.

If things don’t go well for Cassel and the Vikings early in the season, how patient will coach Mike Zimmer be with him? In that event, would he hesitate to switch to rookie Teddy Bridgewater?

Goessling: That remains to be seen, but I don’t think the Vikings would put Bridgewater on the field before they feel he’s ready. They’re probably not at a point where a quarterback change is going to make the difference between being a contender and missing the playoffs, so if it means sticking with Cassel (or even going to Christian Ponder) to give Bridgewater more time to learn, I could see the Vikings doing that. The most important task facing Zimmer and his staff is developing Bridgewater correctly, and that will have a bigger say in their job security than a few games this season. I think they’ve been impressed with Bridgewater so far, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see him at some point this season. I just don’t think they’ll be rushing to pull the plug on Cassel for the sole purpose of putting Bridgewater on the field as soon as possible, or to try to jump-start a season in which they’re not likely to contend anyway.

What’s the feeling down there in Kansas City after a surprising 2013 season and a number of defections in free agency? Are the Chiefs in position to challenge the Broncos, or are they primed for a fall after making the playoffs last year?

Teicher: You could say the fall began last season. The Chiefs started 9-0 but lost six of their last eight games, counting the playoff defeat against Indianapolis. They were stung by wasting a 28-point third-quarter lead against the Colts, and I can’t tell you for certain that they’re over that. That issue aside, the Chiefs appear to have some issues that will hold them back. They allowed a lot of big pass plays last season and have shown nothing so far in the preseason to indicate that will change. They’re young and inexperienced on the offensive line, and this showed in last week’s loss to Carolina. And their schedule is far more difficult than it was last season. After opening against Tennessee at home, the Chiefs have four of the next five on the road, including games at Denver, San Francisco and San Diego. The home game in that stretch is against New England. So I’ve picked them to take a step backward this year and finish 8-8.
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs were initially relieved early in training camp when they learned that an injury to safety Eric Berry was minor and that Berry would miss little practice time.

 But since then:

1. They changed the area of the injury from ankle to heel.

2. They held him from practice for a couple of days afterward and later in the preseason opener against the Cincinnati Bengals.

3. He was mysteriously listed as second team on the latest depth chart issued by the Chiefs.

4. Berry arrived at practice on Tuesday fully dressed and apparently ready to work. But he soon left the field only to return shortly before his teammates were finished, this time without helmet and pads.

So what are we to make of this? Is it time to panic about Berry’s ability to withstand the rigors of a full season?

It’s probably too early for panic. The Chiefs clearly aren’t panicking. They brought in another veteran backup safety in Jonathon Amaya, but if they were concerned about Berry’s long-term welfare, they’d be doing more in their search for help at the position.

But the Chiefs should be at least wondering about Berry. They described his latest absence from practice as an issue with tendonitis and that Berry might need the occasional day off when the injured area gets irritated.

For now, that’s a livable situation. They can get a long look at his backup, undrafted rookie Daniel Sorensen. Sorensen has showed good instincts and ball skills during camp, though he was late getting back and providing help on a 53-yard pass from Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton to A.J. Green.

“He actually played pretty good,’’ coach Andy Reid said of Sorensen. “He had a lot of good snaps. It was good for him to get in there and get that experience. It looks like he’s a solid football player. We need to see more. It looks like he’s a smart kid, solid player, was a good tackler in that game, did well in his coverages.’’

Sorensen may have enough to work with that he could eventually become a solid backup and special teams player. But the Chiefs don’t need him starting this season, particularly if the spot he would be taking is Berry’s.

Chiefs Camp Report: Day 19

August, 11, 2014
Aug 11
1:30
PM ET
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Kansas City Chiefs training camp at Missouri Western State University:
  • The Chiefs continued to get a long look at young defensive lineman Jaye Howard, who has been starting in place of the injured Mike DeVito, who has a broken hand. Howard received the second-most snaps of any Chiefs defensive player in the preseason opener against Cincinnati, and from all appearances Howard will play a lot in Sunday night's game against the Panthers in Charlotte. They kept Howard on their active roster all season last year after claiming him off waivers from the Seattle Seahawks, and even though he played in just three games they obviously they saw plenty of talent to work with. They may be seeing the payoff. Howard had a sack and was second on the Chiefs in tackles against the Bengals.
  • Developmental quarterback Tyler Bray continued to flash the talent that makes him an intriguing prospect to the Chiefs. He has the best arm among the four quarterbacks in camp and he showed it off on a pair of back-to-back plays. He threw a deep ball that was well-placed between defenders that A.J. Jenkins couldn't quite catch up with. Bray then threw a dart for a big gain to Frankie Hammond Jr.
  • For veteran help at safety, the Chiefs turned to Jonathon Amaya, who participated in practice on Monday after taking the roster spot of the suddenly retired Steve Gregory. Amaya played in 38 games over three seasons with the Saints and Dolphins. After Gregory left camp, the Chiefs had precious little NFL experience at safety behind the starters, Eric Berry and Husain Abdullah. Amaya could still conceivably make the regular-season roster, but that could depend more on how young safeties like Daniel Sorensen and Malcolm Bronson fare the rest of training camp and the preseason.
  • Another practice session came and went with rookie Cairo Santos doing all the kicking. Incumbent Ryan Succop has a sore groin and hasn't kicked since the Cincinnati game. The Chiefs haven't gone with a rookie kicker to begin a season since 2009, when Succop entered the league. But that possibility is looking more and more likely.
  • The Chiefs practice again on Tuesday at 9:15 ET/8:15 a.m. CT.
Examining the Kansas City Chiefs' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (3)

At this point, it would be a surprise only if Smith isn’t the starter, Daniel isn’t the No. 2 quarterback and the Chiefs don’t keep Bray on their active roster. So the question is what the Chiefs do with Aaron Murray. The Chiefs saw this scenario developing and didn’t draft him to set him free this quickly.

RUNNING BACKS (4)

I’m not including Cyrus Gray here but it wouldn’'t be much of an upset if he made it. He’s a good special-teams player and a dependable runner. He would have no role on offense unless both Charles and Davis are injured.

WIDE RECEIVER (6)

I’m substituting Williams for Frankie Hammond Jr. since my last roster projection. Williams has been around longer and the Chiefs might need his experience. Hemingway and Jenkins have returned to practice after missing last week's game with hamstring injuries. Their presence has most affected Hammond, who no longer is getting much work with the first-team offense.

TIGHT END (3)

This position seems set unless an injury changes their plans.

OFFENSIVE LINE (10)

Allen, a guard, has been playing a lot at tackle, a sign the Chiefs aren't comfortable with their backup options there. So off the bench look for the Chiefs to keep Harris at tackle, Henry and Johnson at guard, Kush at center and Duvernay-Tardif as a developmental prospect.

DEFENSIVE LINE (6)

There’s no need to keep more linemen, not with Poe playing so many snaps and the Chiefs occasionally using only two linemen, and sometimes one.

LINEBACKER (9)

After Dezman Moses injured his elbow and had surgery, these spots seem to be solidified. I don't have Nico Johnson making the roster but wonder whether the Chiefs are ready to give up on him after drafting him only last year.

CORNERBACK (5)

Smith is finally getting some snaps with the first team after playing well against Cincinnati in last week's game.

SAFETY (4)

I don't feel good about leaving rookie Daniel Sorensen off the roster, but the Chiefs can't afford to keep five players here. So I would expect the Chiefs to place him on their practice squad.

SPECIALISTS (3)

The Chiefs have no fear about going with a rookie, Santos, as their kicker. So he could claim a job over veteran Ryan Succop with a strong preseason.
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- The punt that rookie De’Anthony Thomas returned 80 yards for a touchdown in the Kansas City Chiefs’ preseason opener last week guarantees him nothing when the regular season begins on Sept. 7 against Tennessee.

 But in the bigger picture, it’s not meaningless that Thomas, returning a punt for the first time in an NFL game, scored a touchdown. That kind of thing can provide benefits for the Chiefs and Thomas on Sept. 7 and beyond.

“It’s very meaningful for him,’’ special teams coordinator Dave Toub said. “He’s a rookie. He went in there, and he showed a lot of courage. Those are the things we wanted to see. He showed a lot of courage catching the ball. He took a good hit and still held on to the ball, didn’t go down, kept his balance. Once he’s able to get in the open field you can see how dangerous he is.

“It was good for everybody’s confidence. It’s going to lift us up. Guys will block even harder next time.’’

The Chiefs, in their first season with Toub as their coordinator, established themselves in 2013 as among the league’s best teams in the kicking game. They scored four touchdowns on kick returns and set an NFL record for average kickoff return.

Already, they’re serving notice that won’t change. Thomas is replacing Dexter McCluster, who made the Pro Bowl last year as a punt returner but moved to the Titans as a free agent.

The Chiefs will use Knile Davis as their main kickoff return specialist. But another rookie, Albert Wilson, had a 65-yard kickoff return in last week’s game.

The immediate success of two rookie kick returners makes it look like the Chiefs can plug anyone into those spots and fare well. That’s an oversimplification, but it is true that Toub seems to have the magic touch with returners.

Before joining the Chiefs, he coached special teams for the Chicago Bears for nine seasons. The Bears scored 22 touchdowns on kick returns in that time, and they weren’t all the work of Devin Hester -- but six different players.

There’s no question that in Kansas City, Thomas and Davis are talented kick returners. That’s particularly true for Thomas, who can make the first defender miss and showed his world-class speed on last week’s touchdown.

But with Toub as their coach, the Chiefs might have a good return specialist no matter who they put back there to shag the kicks.
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. – The Kansas City Chiefs didn’t waver from their commitment to starting cornerback Ron Parker in their return to training camp at Missouri Western State University. Two days after Parker was burned for a long pass and a touchdown and penalized twice during the first quarter of a preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Parker was still in the starting lineup, with veteran Sean Smith running second-team.

Parker
“He’s got to be like any player, especially being out on the edges," defensive coordinator Bob Sutton said. “You need to have a short-term memory. You need to learn from whatever happened to you out there. He needs to play that particular route better."

Meanwhile, Smith intercepted a pass in his first play as Parker’s replacement against the Bengals and returned it 36 yards for a touchdown. Though the differing levels of play between Parker and Smith weren’t enough to prompt the Chiefs into a lineup change, Sutton indicated such a move might not be far off.

“There’s far less separating them than it might appear," Sutton said. “I hope they make it a hard decision. That would be the best thing for us. That would be great."

Smith started 15 games for the Chiefs last season, plus the playoff loss to Indianapolis. Parker was a backup except in the season-ending game against San Diego, when the Chiefs rested many of their starters.

“You want it to be a battle," Parker said. “You want it to be a competition."
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- Quarterback Alex Smith recently spent some time looking at video from last year’s Kansas City Chiefs training camp, and even he was surprised by the differences one year made.

"We’re in a different place," Smith said. "We actually even went back and looked at a little bit of the film from last year. It’s funny to look back watching and compare where we are because it isn’t very close."

Everything was new last year for the Chiefs, from Andy Reid and the rest of the coaching staff to Smith. This year the emphasis is on continuity and familiarity, and the Chiefs are counting on that to carry them further than they went last season, when they won 11 games and earned a wild-card playoff berth.

The Chiefs are doing many of the same things they did last season but are trying to do them better. That’s particularly true on defense, where after a strong start the Chiefs collapsed down the stretch and in the postseason.

But they also had one of the NFL’s top passing games over the season’s last several games, and that’s where Smith’s aim has been throughout camp.

"That’s the goal we’re getting at," he said. "That is part of the focus."

THREE REASONS FOR OPTIMISM

[+] EnlargeJamaal Charles
Jay Biggerstaff/Getty ImagesJamaal Charles comes off a season in which he averaged 5 yards per carry and had 19 total touchdowns.
1. The Chiefs had a pair of potential holdouts from training camp, but both running back Jamaal Charles and linebacker Justin Houston have been on the field from the first practice. A holdout by either player would have been bad enough, but not having both would have been devastating to the Chiefs. Charles is their offensive engine and Houston arguably is their most valuable defensive player. Charles received the contract extension he desired, while Houston reported for camp without a new deal. Judging from their play in camp, Charles and Houston look poised for big seasons.

2. The Chiefs might not provide more relief to Charles than they did last year, when he had a big workload. But they should be able to thrive if they choose to give him more rest. Rookie De'Anthony Thomas has shown big-play ability at training camp. Thomas is fast, and the Chiefs can use him in a variety of ways in search of favorable matchups. At 174 pounds, Thomas will be limited in how much he can play, but the Chiefs also have Knile Davis. He looked lost at training camp last season as a rookie but appears far more prepared to contribute this season.

3. In outside linebackers Houston, Tamba Hali and first-round draft pick Dee Ford, the Chiefs have the makings of a dynamic pass rush. The Chiefs midway through last season were on pace to set an NFL record for sacks, but their production fell off greatly over the second half without Houston, who missed the final five games with a dislocated elbow. The combination of Houston and Hali is difficult for opponents to deal with, and now the Chiefs have added Ford to the mix. In camp he flashed the qualities of a great pass-rusher, including a quick first step, a variety of moves and the ability to finish.

THREE REASONS FOR PESSIMISM

1. The Chiefs allowed an alarming 63 pass plays of 20 or more yards last season and another six in their playoff game. Since then, they released one starting cornerback and demoted another from their lineup. Under different circumstances, that might not be such a bad thing, but the replacements are players the Chiefs picked up off waivers last season. One is Marcus Cooper, who played well as the third cornerback the first half of the season but played so poorly over the second half that he had to be benched. The other is journeyman Ron Parker, who had been released eight times before joining the Chiefs.

[+] EnlargeEric Fisher
AP Photo/Paul SpinelliEric Fisher needs to show the promise of a top overall pick in his second season after an underwhelming rookie year.
2. Four of the five starters on the offensive line were selected by the Chiefs in first three rounds of the draft, so they have some talent. But inexperience is an issue. Those four players have a total of 73 career NFL starts, and the fifth starter, guard Zach Fulton, is a rookie. Eric Fisher, the first overall pick in the draft last year, had a rocky rookie season and has moved to left tackle, where he will protect Smith’s blind side. Fisher still projects to a solid NFL player, but it could be some time before he gets there.

3. The Chiefs quietly finished last season with one of the league’s best passing games but could struggle to pick up where they left off. There was no indication at camp the Chiefs will get more from starting wide receivers Dwayne Bowe and Donnie Avery. The best receivers at camp were two developmental players, Frankie Hammond Jr. and undrafted rookie Albert Wilson. Both could wind up playing, but they are untested, so it’s unwise to expect much from either player. Tight ends Travis Kelce and Anthony Fasano have looked good in training camp but are unreliable from an injury standpoint. Kelce missed all of last season and Fasano half of the season with injuries.

OBSERVATION DECK

  • The Chiefs will lean heavily on rookies. They have expectations for Ford, Fulton and Thomas and hopes for Wilson. In addition, Cairo Santos is a strong candidate to win the place-kicking job.
  • The Chiefs don’t have an obvious candidate to provide adequate relief for nose tackle Dontari Poe, so they again need him to play an inordinate number of snaps for a big man. Teams generally rotate players the size of Poe, who is listed at 346 pounds, but he rarely came out of the lineup last year. The Chiefs are better with Poe on the field against the pass and the run.
  • The Chiefs should be good again on special teams. They scored four touchdowns on kick returns last season and should match or exceed that number this year. Thomas, who is fast and can make the first defender miss, has the skills to be a great punt returner.
  • Results from preseason games could change this, but during camp neither of the developmental quarterbacks, Tyler Bray and rookie Aaron Murray, looked advanced enough to be the main backup to Smith. The Chiefs would be smart to hang on to veteran Chase Daniel.
As NFL offenses continue to evolve and the passing game takes on more prevalence, the running back is losing his value. No back has been selected in the first round of the draft in the past two years.

That trend hasn’t reached Kansas City and the Chiefs, at least when it comes to the value of the featured back. The Chiefs celebrate their backs, who are as important as ever to Kansas City’s offensive fortunes.

Charles
 The Chiefs realize this. They recently gave a contract extension to running back Jamaal Charles, who led the Chiefs in rushing, pass receiving and touchdowns last season. Despite the presence of Charles, the Chiefs drafted a running back in each of the past three years and two of them, Knile Davis and rookie De’Anthony Thomas, join Charles as Kansas City’s preeminent big-play threats.

The Chiefs will wind up cutting at least one back or perhaps two who could play for other teams, Cyrus Gray and Joe McKnight.

So excuse Charles if he takes offense at the notion that running backs just aren’t as important as they once were.

 “I don’t think it’s changed,’’ he said. “I think it depends on what style of running back you have. You can have a power back, [but] there are a lot of power backs [who] can’t catch the ball. Or you can have a skilled back [who] is an athlete, can run and catch the ball like a wide receiver. I think that can bring the game back.

“I think running back is the most important [position] on the field because we pick up the blitz, we run the ball, and we catch the ball. So I think we do more than the wide receivers, O-line, and maybe the quarterback. So I think the running back job is really important.”

Charles’ role was even important for the Chiefs in last year’s preseason opener against the Saints in New Orleans. He got the ball eight times, five times on a handoff and three as a receiver and scored a touchdown on a 1-yard run.

But that was the Chiefs' first season under Andy Reid, and they were still trying to find themselves an identity. Charles may not get as much work Thursday night when the Chiefs open their preseason, this time at Arrowhead Stadium against the Cincinnati Bengals.

“Whatever the coaches do, I’m all with it,’’ Charles said. “If I have to play, I have to play. It’s my job to play football.

“Whatever the coaches think I need . . . I guess I’ve got to go out there and do it. I can’t complain. I’m not going to be selfish. I’m going to do what they tell me.’’
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- News of quarterback Andy Dalton's contract extension with the Cincinnati Bengals broke during Kansas City Chiefs training camp practice on Monday and it traveled fast. Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith, looking for a similar extension, was briefed on the Dalton news, if not the details, shortly after practice concluded.

"I just found out walking off the field just to give me a heads up because I would probably be asked about it," Smith said. "I’ve got nothing for you now. I don’t know anything about it. I’m focused out here on camp, getting better. We’ve got a game on Thursday and it happens to be against [the Bengals]."

Smith
That’s a small-world story, much like the world of starting quarterback contracts. One has an impact on the next, and Dalton’s deal will have its effect on Smith’s. So will contract extensions recently signed by Jay Cutler of the Chicago Bears and Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers.

Dalton’s contract is reportedly worth $115 million over six years with incentives. That number is in line with what Cutler and Kaepernick received.

The market is being set, whether the Chiefs agree with it or not. This is the cost of doing business now in the NFL’s quarterback world.

This is where the Chiefs will likely have to go if they want to extend the contract of Smith, who is in the final season of his existing deal. Dalton’s deal is the going rate for a quarterback, and Smith is entirely in line if he uses it as a starting point for his asking price.

It won’t necessarily hurt the Chiefs to wait on a new contract for Smith. He won’t necessarily be any more expensive in March, when his contract expires, than he is now.

But whether the Chiefs wait until then or not, they’d better be prepared to pay Smith at least the way the Bengals did Dalton.

Chiefs Camp Report: Day 12

August, 4, 2014
Aug 4
1:15
PM ET
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Kansas City Chiefs training camp:
  • Coach Andy Reid said each of the four quarterbacks would receive a quarter of playing time apiece in Thursday night’s preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Arrowhead Stadium. Assuming the Chiefs follow the rotation they’ve been using in practice, Chase Daniel would follow starter Alex Smith. Tyler Bray would then play the third period and rookie Aaron Murray the fourth. Smith and Daniel are known quantities to the Chiefs but they are eager to get a look at Bray and Murray.
  • Judging from the slower pace at practice, the Chiefs were obviously gearing down in preparation for the Bengals game. Players were wearing full pads, as usual, but practice contained no real hitting. The session also ended about a half-hour earlier than normal.
  • Backup safety Daniel Sorensen has consistently displayed good instincts and ball skills since joining the Chiefs in the spring as an undrafted rookie. This practice was no different. Sorensen was the day’s star. He intercepted a pair of passes and broke up another. As with all developmental players, Sorensen needs to play well against the Bengals and subsequent preseason games if he’s going to stick with the Chiefs when the regular season begins. Sorensen was a star on special teams at Brigham Young and also needs to play well in the kicking game this summer.
  • The Chiefs were counting on Mike Catapano to help as a situational pass-rusher, but a virus has prevented Catapano from practicing the past several days. The Chiefs are unsure when Catapano will return to practice. The Chiefs have been using a variety of linemen alongside Dontari Poe in passing situations but Allen Bailey looks like the best of the bunch. Running back Joe McKnight, who had been out with a sore knee, practiced for the first time at camp. It’s not too late for McKnight to leave an impression, but unless the Chiefs decide to keep a fourth running back, it will be difficult for McKnight to make the team. The Chiefs have Jamaal Charles, Knile Davis and De’Anthony Thomas getting snaps out of the backfield. McKnight has also been a dynamic kick returner, but the Chiefs seem to have settled on Thomas (punts) and Davis (kickoffs) as their main return specialists.
  • The next training camp practice will be on Saturday. Monday’s workout was the final session before the Bengals game.
Examining the Kansas City Chiefs' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (3)

The Chiefs could go a lot of different directions here. The only certainty is a healthy Smith will start. Daniel, the veteran backup, could be traded if the Chiefs determine that either Bray or their other developmental prospect, Aaron Murray, is ready to be the No. 2. That’s unlikely, so the Chiefs need to determine what to do with Murray. They didn’t draft him to release him. The Chiefs could also keep four quarterbacks, but that's also unlikely. Whatever they do, the Chiefs should keep Bray, who is too talented to turn loose.

RUNNING BACKS (4)

There’s room for another player here if the Chiefs believe they need to keep two running backs in addition to Charles and Sherman, the fullback. They needed three in last season’s playoff game in Indianapolis. Thomas is listed as a back and has been getting some work as one, but he’s too small to be an every-down player if that’s what the Chiefs require. So Cyrus Gray, a useful special-teams player, could also stick.

WIDE RECEIVER (6)

This may be the Chiefs' most interesting position groups when it comes to roster decisions. It appears they have seven serious roster candidates but will keep only six players. I've left Kyle Williams off this roster but don't feel strongly that he won't make it. Williams has played well in training camp. Bowe and Avery are the starters. Hemingway and Jenkins would be the top backups, but they've missed a lot of practice time at training camp because of injuries so their spots aren't necessarily solid. Hammond and Wilson are interesting prospects who have played well at camp.

TIGHT END (3)

This position seems set unless an injury changes their plans.

OFFENSIVE LINE (10)

Guard Allen has been playing a lot at tackle, a sign the Chiefs aren't comfortable with their backup options there. So off the bench look for the Chiefs to keep Harris at tackle, Henry and Johnson at guard, Kush at center and Duvernay-Tardif as a developmental prospect.

DEFENSIVE LINE (6)

There’s no need to keep more linemen, not with Poe playing so many snaps and the Chiefs occasionally using only two linemen, and sometimes one.

LINEBACKER (9)

Maybe the most difficult single decision for the Chiefs will be whether to keep Zombo as a backup instead of Dezman Moses. Moses could claim the job by playing well in the preseason. Nico Johnson, a draft pick last year, may be running out of time.

CORNERBACK (5)

For the time being, at least, Cooper and Parker are the starters and Smith, their most accomplished cornerback, is running with the second team.

SAFETY (4)

I'm going with McMillian and Bronson as the backups over Daniel Sorensen and Steve Gregory but it's a very close race.

SPECIALISTS (3)

The Chiefs have no fear about going with a rookie, Santos, as their kicker. So he could claim a job over veteran Ryan Succop with a strong preseason.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Insider