Take Five: Chiefs vs. Seahawks

Posted Aug 24, 2012

Five things to watch in Kansas City’s preseason meeting with Seattle

After playing the first half of last weekend’s second preseason game in St. Louis, Chiefs starters are gearing up for an increased workload that could extend into the third quarter Friday night against Seattle.

Since the third preseason game traditionally serves as a dress rehearsal for the regular season, this week’s Take Five focuses solely on the Chiefs starting lines.

Here are five things to look for when the starters play against the Seahawks.

1. Defensive Backfield Rotation

A veteran secondary should feast on a rookie quarterback. Thing is, the Chiefs are shorthanded in the defensive backfield and third-round draft pick Russell Wilson is performing like anything but a rookie.

Brandon Flowers (foot) and Kendrick Lewis (shoulder) didn’t practice this week and aren’t expected to play against Seattle. Their absence won’t just impact the Chiefs starting lineup, but will extend into sub-package personnel as well.

Jalil Brown looks in line to make his third start of the preseason in place of Flowers and veteran Abram Elam is the likely replacement for Lewis. In sub-package sets look for versatile veteran Travis Daniels to work his way into the mix at safety if he’s healthy enough to make his preseason debut.

Injuries could tempt Romeo Crennel to make some unconventional moves in the secondary. Keep an eye out for young players getting an opportunity to run with the ones.

2. Unleash the Dogs

Rams starting quarterback Sam Bradford wasn’t sacked last week and finished with a 144.4 passer rating. A week prior, Cardinals quarterbacks were sacked seven times and finished with combined passer rating of 69.5. Front-liners John Skelton and Kevin Kolb were even worse with passer ratings of 28.5 and 44.6, respectively.

This one is easy. Kansas City needs to keep the heat on rookie Russell Wilson throughout Friday night’s game.

In addition, the Chiefs will gain valuable experience working against a mobile quarterback. Wilson can scramble and is currently Seattle’s leading rusher this preseason with 92 yards and a touchdown on eight carries.

3. Can Matt Cassel keep it going?

Matt Cassel’s preseason has been what you’d want it to be so far. Consistent.

Cassel was one of the lone bright spots last week as the Chiefs struggled on both sides of the football. He’s free to check plays at the line of scrimmage, which speaks volumes of the relationship he is developing with new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll.

 Cassel appears comfortable operating Daboll’s offense and his preseason numbers are reflective of that. If Cassel is comfortable in the huddle, so is the rest of the Chiefs first-team offense.

4. Pinch Hit Preview

Tamba Hali will start at outside linebacker Friday night. The fact that he’s been suspended for the regular season opener hasn’t changed the Chiefs approach to this game. Hali will continue to get his snaps.

But with Hali’s suspension looming, the play of Andy Studebaker, Cameron Sheffield, Edgar Jones and Gabe Miller becomes more important as the preseason pushes forward. Justin Houston will be the team’s top pass rusher when Kansas City squares off against Atlanta, but a mixture of the aforementioned reserves will need to contribute edge support against the run and create pressure against the pass.

Sheffield is probably the best rushers of the bunch. Studebaker the most experienced. Jones has been a special teams stalwart throughout his career and Miller is a relative unknown.

5. Bowe’s Back

What’s the best case scenario for Dwayne Bowe in his preseason debut Friday night? He’ll only see limited action.

If Bowe can get the ball in his hands at least once, take a hit and throw a few blocks it will be a successful debut. Playing Bowe for an extended amount of snaps would be counterproductive and a disservice to the player.

Bowe is in good condition, but there’s no way anyone can be in game shape after just two padded practices. He still has plenty of time to work his way into Kansas City’s offense before the regular season opener. Bowe only needs a taste on Friday.

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