Andy Reid will make his Arrowhead Stadium debut Friday night when the Kansas City Chiefs host the San Francisco 49ers.
It’ll be a big night — as far as preseason games go — for QB Alex Smith as well. Not only is he playing his first game in front of the Kansas City fans, but Smith will be facing the team he spent the first eight years of his career with.
The Chiefs starters are expected to play the entire first half, giving us the first extended look at the new systems Reid and defensive coordinator Bob Sutton are in the process of installing.
Though the Niners aren’t likely to leave their starters on the field as long as the Chiefs, they are still a squad fresh off a trip to the Super Bowl and should provide a solid test.
We’ll see plenty of players have the spotlight shift to them over the next two weeks leading up to the final cuts, but here are the three we’ll be watching on offense, defense and special teams Friday night.
Offense: Knile Davis
The third-round pick had a less than stellar debut against the Saints, picking up just seven yards on five carries. He was able to catch four passes, but those were only good for 18 yards.
Davis has had issues in camp with fumbles, meaning in addition to trying to show he can be a playmaker when he’s on the field with the first team, he’ll obviously need to hold onto the ball.
With an impressive performance Friday night, he’ll put plenty of distance between himself and Shaun Draughn on the depth chart.
Defense: Nico Johnson
Starting ILB Akeem Jordan missed practice on Wednesday for a personal matter, leaving his availability for the Niners game up in the air. Johnson, fighting to take a starting job from Jordan, could get more run with the first team.
Even if Jordan is able to play, that doesn’t lessen the sort of game Johnson is going to need to have.
Sure, he could find himself in a position where Jordan loses the starting job, but the rookie can avoid needing to back into a spot in the lineup next to Derrick Johnson by flying around the field during his first game at Arrowhead.
Special Teams: Devon Wylie
Following a disappointing rookie season, Wylie is fighting for one of the final roster spots. Even his biggest supporter would have to agree Wylie’s best case scenario in Reid’s offense is as the fifth wide receiver.
In our first roster projection, we had Wylie on the outside looking.
Last week he showed some of what special teams coach Dave Toub will want to see with a 31 yard kick return and 22 yard punt return. Tonight he has a chance to prove he can be a reliable option as a returner, getting a needed edge on the guys he’s battling.