Chiefs Look To Build On Strong Preseason Debut At Carolina This Sunday
The Kansas City Chiefs came out on top of a 41-39 shootout with the Cincinnati Bengals in their first preseason game. While on the surface that score might lead some to believe the Chiefs’ offense was dominant, the reality is that 27 of the team’s 41 points came from the defense and special teams. The Chiefs had a kick return touchdown, two interception return touchdowns, and two field goals in the win over Cincinnati in addition to two offensive scores. Kansas City will look to build on that performance in its second preseason game this Sunday against a Carolina Panthers’ team that suffered a close 20-18 loss to the Buffalo Bills in its exhibition opener.
Players We’re Watching
De’Anthony Thomas – Kansas City Chiefs
The fourth-round pick out of Oregon showed off his speed in his first NFL preseason game with an 80-yard punt return for a touchdown. Thomas caught the punt, made a wicked spin move, then hit the lane with a ridiculous burst of speed and took it the distance. An absolute burner that the Chiefs envision being a contributor as a receiver, running back, and return man, Thomas is a threat to make a big play every time he touches the ball. Special teams coach Dave Toub is an excellent motivator that knows how to get the most out of his players and the rookie return man is an outstanding weapon. Keep an eye out for Thomas on special teams and on offense where he had just one carry for three yards in the preseason opener.
Kelvin Benjamin – Carolina Panthers
The Panthers’ receiving core was completely revamped in the offseason after the team said goodbye to Steve Smith, Brandon LaFell, and Ted Ginn. The team added veterans Jason Avant and Jerricho Cotchery but the biggest move came in the draft when they selected Florida State wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin with their first-round pick. At 6’5, 241 pounds, Benjamin is an absolute monster target that can outmuscle defenders and win jump balls. He also has excellent speed and elite body control, which he showed last week when he made his first NFL catch. Benjamin sprinted down the left side of the field and seemed to have a step on his man but was forced to adjust to an under thrown ball so he dove to make a spectacular touchdown catch. Benjamin is being relied on as the Panthers’ No. 1 receiver in year one and it already looks as though he is very capable.
Preseason Coaching Trend
Andy Reid hasn’t finished with a preseason record below .500 since 2009 and that likely won’t change this year with a deep roster and plenty of battles going on at the skill positions. Ron Rivera went 3-1 in the preseason a year ago but there isn’t the same urgency there was coming off a down year in 2013 and Cam Newton isn’t available.
The Chiefs got scoring contributions from the offense, defense, and special teams in their preseason opener and while the final result didn’t count, this team looked organized and ready to compete in all three facets of the game. Carolina isn’t as good as its record was a year ago and it will take some time to get in to form with so many new faces. Look for this to be a lower scoring game with Kansas City securing its second preseason win.
Pick: Kansas City Chiefs +3