The Kansas City Chiefs take on the Oakland Raiders tomorrow at Arrowhead Stadium. Can Todd Haley get his first win as a head coach in front of the hometown fans?
Here are three players (Offense, Defense and Special Teams) from each team to keep your eyes on.
Offense: Matt Cassel
Will he or won’t he? That is the $63 million dollar question.
If Cassel does make his regular season debut for the Chiefs, all eyes will be on his knee and if it prevents him from moving around in the pocket. The way the Kansas City offensive line has performed in the preseason and last week, Cassel will have to bring his dancing shoes if the Chiefs want to throw the ball.
Defense: Jarrad Page
If there is a Raider killer on the Chiefs defense, it’s Page. He has 4 of his 10 career interceptions in 6 games against Oakland. With the Chiefs looking to stuff the running game and Zach Miller in the passing game, Page will have to play a huge role in both of those tasks.
Page has been up and down on the Kansas City depth chart early on this year and is currently up, starting at safety along with veteran Mike Brown. There’s no better time than this week for the fourth year player to prove to Todd Haley that he is here to stay.
Special Teams: Bobby Wade
Have the Chiefs finally found their punt returner?
Haley seemed pretty confident in Wade’s ability to return punts in his press conference after the newest Chief practiced with the team for the first time. Will three days of practice be enough for Wade to get a look? He certainly couldn’t do any worse than Maurice Leggett. And he has plenty of experience after returning kicks for the Bears, Titans and Vikings.
The key to getting time returning kicks is his ability to catch on — pun intended — with the receiving corps. Something tells me that won’t be a problem since no receiver other than Dwayne Bowe has played with any sort of real consistency in the over the past three weeks.
Offense: JaMarcus Russell
With the Kansas City Chiefs — hopefully — concentrating all of their efforts on stopping the Oakland rushing attack led by Darren McFadden and Michael Bush, Russell will get to work with one-on-one coverage on his receivers for most of the game.
Can he make the Chiefs pay?
Russell has been inconsistent at best throughout his short career and would take a huge step forward if he proves that he can deliver when a team dares him to try. The problem he faces — other than accuracy — is a complete lack of a playmaker at wide receiver.
Defense: Richard Seymour
Last week Seymour was a Raider for all of 48 hours and was able to record 6 tackles and 2 sacks against the San Diego Chargers. What do you think he’s capable of with an entire week of practice under his belt?
If you are keeping your eye on Seymour, get used to looking all over the field. He started last week on the right side at defensive end, then moved inside to play tackle on a passing down. This week you will see him play both ends as well as continuing to move inside on passing downs.
As I said on this week’s Red & Gold Report, Oakland would be best served to line him up outside of Chiefs right tackle Ike Ndukwe and let Seymour go to town on the latest addition to the Kansas City offensive line.
Special Teams: Hiram Eugene
Well, really you could put any player willing to return kicks here: Louis Rankin, Javon Walker or Johnnie Lee Higgins. The only two players to return kicks for the Raiders, Nick Miller and Higgins, are both injured with Miller already ruled out and Higgins a game time decision.
Without Higgins that would mean Eugene, a safety, would get the call at punt returner. The only issue is that he hasn’t returned a punt since his days at community college (2002). If he has to handle Colquitt’s punts, the Chiefs could be in a perfect position to turn one of the Raiders’ strengths into a major weakness.