St. Louis makes an intrastate visit to Kansas City for the annual Governor’s Cup matchup between the Chiefs and Rams Friday night at Arrowhead Stadium. Historically a battle for Missouri bragging rights, this year’s game is about much more than football.
The entire evening will be dedicated to assisting the people of Joplin, MO in their recovery and rebuilding efforts from tornado devastation as well as recognizing the many volunteers who have helped ensure the spirit of the Joplin community continues to shine.
If you’re coming to the game, think of the difference football fans can make if every person who steps through the turnstile donates just $1 to Joplin relief efforts. There will be donation stations benefitting the Joplin Recovery Fund and the Joplin Relief Fund at each gate when entering Arrowhead.
If you’re not able to attend the game, but would still like to help the people of Joplin, fans can make donations by visiting the Chiefs Facebook page HERE.
This year’s Governor’s Cup serves as a platform to highlight the progress in Joplin and the needs of that city moving forward. It’s the focus of everything surrounding tonight’s game, but here are five things to pay attention to when watching the action unfold between the white lines.
Governor’s Cup Take Five
1) Revisiting The Core Four
With tight position battles in the reserve ranks at safety, wide receiver and linebacker, it’s time to re-visit our focus on the Core Four special teams performers. These are the guys who are able to play on the four primary special teams units – kickoff, kickoff return, punt and punt return.
“I do think that as you get in to some of those fourth safety, sixth linebacker, fourth receiver, fifth receiver – special teams might play a big role in it,” Chiefs Head Coach Todd Haley said earlier this week.
Last year’s most active special teamers were LB
“If you’re not a starter, you have to be able to play special teams,” Copper said. “That’s just something I took to at an early age and thank God they’ve kept me around for a little bit.”
Our last check of Core Four players came against Tampa Bay when three players ran with the first unit on all four special teams. Those three players were S
What will the Core Four look like against St. Louis?
2) Aftermath Of Siler’s Injury
I’ve read and heard a few takes that
With Siler, the Chiefs found a player that the defense didn’t have in 2010 – a crossover inside linebacker. Kansas City’s two-deep never shifted from their respective positions on the strong and weak sides.
Williams is now the only backup at middle linebacker with any extensive NFL experience, but he’s only played on the weak side with the Chiefs. Siler had been working next to Williams on the strong side throughout camp.
“That inside strong linebacker is taking on big bodies much of the time and has to be much more of a downhill player,” Haley explained last preseason after being asked why Williams and Johnson were never paired together. “(Derrick and Demorrio) are not the image that you, as a coach, have in your head as an inside strong-side backer in the 3-4. It’s no issue with them; it’s that you need a little bigger body to hold up to the pounding.”
In Wednesday’s night practice, Justin Cole took the second-team reps at “Mike” alongside Williams. Cole is a player who the Chiefs were obviously high on last season as he made the team out of training camp as a rookie free agent; but is he ready to be in the two deep?
Last year, Cole was inactive for the first 11 games before being released and joining the practice squad. How will the Chiefs treat the backup position behind Belcher on Friday night?
3) Speaking Of Linebackers
Let’s shift our focus to the outside linebacker position and its depleting amount of depth heading into the third preseason game. In Wednesday’s practice, just four outside linebackers were active –
We’re likely to get a long look at Houston and Sheffield if the Chiefs play with just four outside linebackers – which might not be a bad thing. Both Sheffield and Houston are coming of very good performances in Baltimore and could make a statement with follow-up performances against the Rams.
4) Offensive Pickup
The offense has struggled to muster much firepower this preseason. It’s something Haley has credited to a lack of scheming and a focus on fundamentals.
Last week in Baltimore,
“I think that’s just the way that it is, so I want to be fair to those guys,” Haley said. “We’re working fundamentals and we’re working base offense, bread and butter stuff – runs, pass, play-action. But, the offense is making progress.”
Granted, last week’s game in Baltimore was also the first preseason action for most of Kansas City’s front-line players. Starters are expected to see significant snaps against the Rams, while Chiefs fans are waiting to see a preview of good things to come.
5) Any UDFAs on the 53?
Will an undrafted free agent make this year’s 53-man roster? History says yes, but the lack of an offseason has made an uphill climb for rookie underdogs even steeper this season.
In Todd Haley’s first season, Jovan Belcher and Pierre Walters were able to conquer the undrafted wall. Two years later, Belcher is slated to enter his second season as a starter.
Out of this year’s bunch,
Time is ticking with just two games remaining. There are plenty of undrafted rookies still hoping to impress. Will any of them take a stand Friday night?