The Chiefs hit the (indoor) field for their eleventh OTA in Kansas City today as they prepare for a mandatory mini-camp this weekend. If today was any indication we should see plenty of different faces rotating with the first team on both sides of the ball. As Adam Teicher notes, there were a handful of players that made their offseason debut with the starters.
Alex Magee, Shaun Smith, Dion Gales and rookie Jeffrey Fitzgerald of Kansas State got some starters’ snaps on the defensive line. Andy Studebaker and Pierre Walters took some turns at linebacker.
On the offensive side, Casey Wiegmann replaced Rudy Niswanger for some snaps at center and Barry Richardson stood in for Ryan O’Callaghan at right tackle.
Not a huge surprise on the offensive side of the ball.
We should see Wiegmann and Niswanger go back and forth through most of training camp in what should be a great battle to watch. I don’t see Richardson as a guy that will push O’Callaghan for the starting job so much as Todd Haley and Charlie Weis making sure he’s prepared if needed.
The names popping up on defense are much more intriguing.
Magee was mostly invisible during his rookie year, which isn’t a shock considering the learning curve for defensive linemen. Could he be one of these players ready to take a huge leap forward his sophomore year? Magee showed a special sort of versatility during his time at Purdue that could get him on the field plenty in Romeo Crennel’s system.
Smith and Gales will need to help out Ron Edwards at nose, especially if Glenn Dorsey isn’t going to get much run inside.
Two guys to watch closely once the pads go on are Fitzgerald at defensive end and Walters at outside linebacker.
I would argue that Fitzgerald is the most athletic lineman (on either side of the ball) that the Chiefs have. We don’t know just how that will translate to the field, but when it clicked during his time at Virginia and Kansas State, Fitzgerald was very impressive.
We saw a little (okay, very little) of Walters last year, but don’t overlook the fact that he stuck on the roster from start to finish last season and an undrafted free agent. That’s something draft picks Quinten Lawrence and Javarris Williams weren’t able to do. Like Fitzgerald, Walters brings a unique set of physical gifts to the table that could be a huge addition to the defense if he can take a big step in his second season.