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Special Teamers Make Their Mark with Strong Preseason

The Chiefs found success in nearly every aspect of special teams this preseason

The Kansas City Chiefs have been in the business of excelling on special teams throughout the past four seasons, and if this preseason is any indicator, they're not slowing down any time soon.

The special teams unit impressed in nearly every facet this preseason, from the flashy plays like blocked punts to the simple – but critical – tackles and blocking assignments. 

It hasn't been just the usual suspects finding success, either, as several newcomers have already made their mark with the coaching staff. Thriving on special teams is particularly essential for the new players who are simply trying to make the regular season roster.

"It's important for those guys," said Special Teams Coordinator Dave Toub last week. "It's really important for those guys to put a resume together. This is their resume, what they put on tape. All of the other teams look at this stuff."

With that in mind, the Chiefs' special teamers penned one of the more impressive resumes in the league this preseason.    

Kansas City was the only team in all of football to block multiple kicks or punts this preseason with two. Oddly enough, both blocks happened in the preseason opener against San Francisco on Aug. 11, and both were by players competing in their first game with the Chiefs.

Rookie defensive lineman Ricky Ali'ifua blocked a field goal in the contest while linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis, who the Chiefs traded for in late July, blocked a punt.

Rookie wide receiver Marcus Kemp blocked another punt on Aug. 25 at Seattle, though it didn't show up in the box score due to a statistical technicality. Kemp's impact was (literally) felt earlier in the game when he delivered a huge hit on kickoff coverage.

On the other side of the ball, return man De'Anthony Thomas dashed for a 95-yard kickoff return touchdown against the Seahawks. It was an exciting sight for Thomas, now in his fourth year in the league, as he'll likely handle the majority of kickoff returns this season.

While Thomas' speed and agility was the focus of the play, it was made possible through sound blocking by the rest of the return team.

"The kickoff team made some great blocks," Thomas said after the game. "Then it's just me hitting that seam and running it."

Thomas wasn't the only Chiefs return man to sprint into the end zone this preseason, as rookie wide receiver Jehu Chesson added a 76-yard punt return for a touchdown in Kansas City's preseason finale against Tennessee. 

Like Thomas, Chesson credited his blockers for making the return possible.

"I feel like a lot of guys don't get credit on special teams for what they do," Chesson said. "Those guys do one heck of a job because you can't do without them. No one can just run through, I don't care how fast or how shifty you are. Those guys did a heck of a job and I'm just really thankful for them."

Finding success on special teams goes beyond the individual plays themselves, as the players making up those units will likely see action on offense or defense at some point this season.

Having players that are ready to step in and perform is critical over the course of a long football season, and based on how they've played this preseason, that depth is in good hands.

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