The NFL might call it the first week of preseason games, but I call it Christmas in August!
After what seems like years, the Kansas City Chiefs are back on the field, ready to officially kick off the 2012 season and their march to reclaiming the AFC West crown when they take on the Arizona Cardinals.
These two teams got to know each other well over the last week as the Cardinals spent time in St. Joseph. The Chiefs welcomed them to camp so they didn’t have to travel all the way across the country and back after their game against the New Orleans Saints last weekend in Ohio.
Arizona and Kansas City had one joint practice, giving us a nice one-on-one showdown between Larry Fitzgerald and Eric Berry, and were able to mix things up during a time of monotony.
Just like every other team in the NFL, the Chiefs really only have one goal over these next four weeks: avoid catastrophic injuries. Last year they were unable to clear that low bar, losing TE Tony Moeaki for the year in the final preseason game.
So while we all want to see the Chiefs play well in the preseason for a change, keeping that darn cart off the field will be good enough for me. With that in mind, here are the three players to keep your eyes on.
Offense: Jamaal Charles
Head coach Romeo Crennel talked this week about wanting to see where Charles, Moeaki and Eric Berry are right now in their recovery, but I have to say I started to get the shakes thinking about each of them getting hit tonight. Though I have to say, of the three, it’s Charles I’m most nervous about watching.
Will he pop right up after that first hit? Is that incredible burst we’ve grown so accustomed to seeing still be there the first time he gets a little daylight?
Defense: Eric Berry
The first carry for Charles might give me cold sweats, but I’ll also be holding my breath after Berry’s first hit. We know the leader of the Chiefs defense will be able to run the system with his eyes closed, but we will all still be looking for “it” from the safety.
Much like Charles and Moeaki, there’s no way to know how much we’ll see Berry, but just getting the trio through that first hit and back to the huddle will be a victory.
Special Teams: Devon Wylie
The seemingly endless search for a home run hitter in the return game continues for the Chiefs as the 2012 season begins. Javier Arenas and Dexter McCluster have been solid and delivered some memorable moments, neither has consistently delivered big time returns.
One of the fastest players in the draft, the Chiefs selected Wylie in the fourth round with an eye on finally having that dangerous weapon on special teams.
If Wylie — or another player, though he seems like the most likely candidate — can step up, it would allow Arenas and McCluster to keep their focus on defense and offense, respectively.