The Kansas City Chiefs will check off the second of their three big reunion matchups Thursday night when the Green Bay Packers travel to Arrowhead for the fourth, and final, preseason game.
Alex Smith had his first game against the San Francisco 49ers two weeks ago and now GM John Dorsey will see his Chiefs face off against the franchise he spent most of his career with. Head coach Andy Reid also spent time in Green Bay, but the real emotional showdown for him will come against the Philadelphia Eagles Week 3.
While there are certainly going to be plenty of mixed emotions for Dorsey, once kickoff rolls around he’ll be focused on trying to make some tough final roster decisions.
The NFL will require the Chiefs to trim their 75-man roster down to 53 by Saturday afternoon and there are jobs to be won on this team. With the starters likely playing limited snaps, we aren’t going to see any battles for a starting spot won, but it also means guys just trying to stick in the league should get extended minutes to show the Chiefs — and every other team — just what they can do.
We should be able to tell who Dorsey and Reid are trying to get a better look at based on who gets the next wave of reps after the “locks”.
Here is a look at the guys on offense, defense and special teams we think are close to nabbing a roster spot, but may need to stand out if they want to survive the final cuts.
Offense: Rico Richardson
Every year there’s a guy in training camp that goes from being an undrafted sleeper to the player many assume will make the team. For a guy like Richardson, he’s shown some potential during practice and managed to make a few plays on the field.
The rookie from Jackson State has caught three passes for 37 yards, including a game-winning touchdown last week against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
It seems the top four receivers for the Chiefs are pretty solid — Dwayne Bowe, Donnie Avery, Dexter McCluster and A.J. Jenkins — and Reid will keep at least one more. If it’s just one, then it would make sense for Junior Hemingway to get the nod over Richardson and Devon Wylie, another guy on the bubble.
If Richardson can come out against the Packers and show he can be a playmaker on special teams and offense, he could force the Chiefs to carry a sixth receiver and make sure he gets the call over Wylie.
Defense: Mike Catapano
After being limited by a calf injury, the seventh-round pick out of Princeton finally made his Chiefs debut last weekend against the Steelers. Healthy and fighting for a roster spot, he should get plenty of chances to show he’s worth keeping around.
Catapano was a star fullback in high school before turning in an impressive college career at defensive end. Drafted as a linebacker, he’s currently sitting on the Kansas City depth chart as a defensive end.
If Reid, Dorsey and defensive coordinator think Catapano can end up contributing — even if only in an emergency — on the line in addition to at linebacker, that could help free up a spot on the final roster for an extra tight end, wide receiver or safety.
Special Teams: Devon Wylie
Reid has a need. A need for speed. And Wylie has speed. So he should get a jump on the final spot at wide receiver, right? I don’t think so.
With Jenkins in the fold, there’s no reason to think the Chiefs will the last receiver they keep to be a speed guy — not to mention the other guys he’s competing with aren’t exactly plodding. But if that guy can force his way into a returner job? That’s a different story entirely.
Wylie has been a part of the special teams turn around this preseason, but he’s not alone. If he can separate himself against the Packers, that could be the push he needs to get by Hemingway and Richardson.