When the Kansas City Chiefs defense took the field Friday night in their second preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks, fans watching caught a glimpse of a very unfamiliar sight.
Veteran Tamba Hali wasn't starting at right outside linebacker.
In his place? Last year's first-round pick, Dee Ford.
"What we're trying to do was we wanted to get Dee a start," head coach Andy Reid said in a conference call on Saturday. "Let's see how he handles that and get him some extended playing time where we're not having to rotate him.
"Tamba (who is entering his 10th NFL season) has been busting his tail all camp and gotten plenty of reps. He's been doing this for a couple of years so I'm not really worried about him. I wanted to see how Dee handled that."
Reid felt Ford, who has yet to start a regular season game in his career, took advantage of the opportunity bestowed upon him.
"I really thought overall he really did a good job," Reid said. "He made plays."
Earlier this month, Ford said that he was making it his personal goal to improve in the run defense.
Photos from the Chiefs second preseason matchup against the Seattle Seahawks
At that point, now just about two weeks ago, he said that he thought he was making "huge strides."
On Friday night, he proved it.
"I thought he held his own in the run game," Reid said.
According to the football analytics website Pro Football Focus, Friday night's game was Ford's best (preseason or regular season) of his professional career at run defense.
Against the pass, known to be Ford's area of expertise, he had 2 quarterback hurries and a very close near-sack of Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.
His strong game, a night of full of offensive disruption, unfortunately came to a halt, however, when with just more than three minutes left in the first half, Seahawks running back Christine Michael leveled Ford as he rushed around the edge.
Reid, who would tell the media after the game that Ford could have broken ribs, said he learned a "crucial lesson" on that play.
"You've got to back off suddenly when you're in the pass rush," he said. "You don't want to expose those ribs. He took quite a shot there. "
While Reid didn't have any updates on Ford's medical status on Saturday, the second-year linebacker took to social media to let fans know that he was in good health.
Of course, nothing will be official until that word comes from Reid and Chiefs head trainer Rick Burkholder, but it's a good sign.
Ford showing an ability to play meaningful NFL downs could mean a greater chance for rotation and a better linebacker corps as a whole.