“The Right 53” Version 5.0

We are a day away from the always important third preseason game of the season and less than a week from the first roster cuts of training camp.  The battles for space at the bottom of the roster are hitting their climax and that has led to plenty of changes in my predictions of the final Chiefs roster.

This was by far the most difficult time I’ve had over the last month trying to get down to the roster limit.  Injuries and depth issues are going to make for some very hard choices come final cut down day in Kansas City.

Is this “The Right 53”?

Quarterback (3)

Matt Cassel
Brodie Croyle
Tyler Palko

Running Back (4)

Jamaal Charles
Thomas Jones
Jackie Battle
Tim Castille

Wide Receiver (6)

Dwayne Bowe
Chris Chambers
Dexter McCluster
Jerheme Urban
Terrance Copper
Jeremy Horne

Tight End (3)

Tony Moeaki
Leonard Pope
Jake O’Connell

Offensive Line (9)

Branden Albert
Brian Waters
Casey Wiegmann
Ryan Lilja
Ryan O’Callaghan
Rudy Niswanger
Jon Asamoah
Colin Brown
Barry Richardson

Defensive Line (7)

Tyson Jackson
Ron Edwards
Glenn Dorsey
Shaun Smith
Wallace Gilberry
Alex Magee
Derek Lokey

Linebacker (9)

Tamba Hali
Mike Vrabel
Derrick Johnson
Corey Mays
Demorrio Williams
Andy Studebaker
Jovan Belcher
Cameron Sheffield
Pierre Walters

Cornerback (4)

Brandon Flowers
Brandon Carr
Javier Arenas
Maurice Leggett

Safety (5)

Eric Berry
Kendrick Lewis
Jon McGraw
Donald Washington
Reshard Langford

Specialists (3)

Dustin Colquitt
Ryan Succop
Thomas Gafford

Last Five In

Barry Richardson
Derek Lokey
Jackie Battle
Jake O’Connell
Tyler Palko

First Five Out

Travis Daniels
Kestahn Moore
Ike Ndukwe
Quinten Lawrence
Garrett Brown

Bubble Thoughts

There is a ton going on with the final 8-10 roster spots this season.  Unlike last season, when aside from Bernard Pollard there was no one cut that anyone lost any real sleep over losing, we could see the Chiefs cut a few players that catch on with other clubs.  While I don’t always buy the “we’re still evaluating” stuff from Todd Haley and Scott Pioli when it comes to the final roster, there really are a lot of decisions that should come down to the final few days of practice.

The situation with the quarterbacks will all come down to Croyle’s health.  Needing flexibility other places makes me think that the Chiefs have no desire to carry three quarterbacks, but they also aren’t parting ways with Croyle.  Meaning if he is still sidelined for any portions of practice a week from now, you will see either Palko or Bill Stull on the roster for Monday Night Football.

During last week’s game in Tampa Bay, I felt ridiculous for having barely talked about Battle as a guy that was on the bubble.  I’ve always thought Kestahn Moore had the third running back spot locked up due in large part to his shadowing of Thomas Jones, but Battle showed that he has the moves necessary to contribute if called upon.  That along with solid practices after the game put him right into one of those final roster spots.

I’ve thrown around the idea of going without a fullback, but that’s just not realistic.  There will be roster juggling to keep things as flexible as possible, but that would cause more problems than it would fix.

Unless they decide to cut Haley-favorite Terrance Copper, the wide receivers seem set.  That means Lawrence is still on the outside looking in.

The most interesting shuffling could happen along the offensive line.  Brown had been the backup right tackle, but then when O’Callaghan went down this week in practice, it was Barry Richardson that stepped in to take the first-team reps.  Brown may have been passed up this week, but I still don’t the Chiefs giving up on him no matter what O’Callaghan’s status is, making that ninth lineman spot between Richardson and Ndukwe who has also been rotating in at tackle.

If he weren’t only a year removed from being a third-round pick, I would worry more about Magee’s place on the team.  Haley can talk all he wants about not caring where a player came from.  It’s rare that a team cuts a high draft pick in his second year, especially at a position that takes longer to develop than most.  If the powers that be decide they want to try and hold onto a guy like Garrett Brown, they’ll have to find a roster spot elsewhere, which is where that third quarterback comes into play.

Going with only four cornerbacks is assuming that Leggett will be fully recovered from his neck injury, something that might be too ambitious on my part.  Daniels has mostly played well and would be a tough guy to cut loose, especially with so little depth in the defensive backfield.

The first cuts are just days away and will help give a little better view of how Pioli and Haley view the depth at certain positions.  We’ll be back with another look at how the roster is breaking down next week.

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