If there's one positive from the fact that three Pro Bowlers from the Kansas City Chiefs defense haven't yet participated in practice—it's that it's providing valuable reps for a core of talented young players who might not otherwise have this many opportunities to develop.
Veterans Justin Houston, Tamba Hali and Eric Berry have yet to step on the field for the Chiefs this preseason, and when you throw in veteran inside linebacker Josh Mauga, who has missed considerable practice time over the past couple of weeks with a groin injury, this sets the stage for the young players to get an opportunity to show what they can do.
"That's one of the positives," Chiefs head coach Andy Reid explained after Saturday's game against the Rams. "We had a couple of rookies start in the secondary, we had, in essence, a rookie linebacker who was starting for us at that 'Mike' position."
Rookies D.J. White (cornerback) and Eric Murray (safety) both started in the defensive backfield against the Rams on Saturday night, while second-year player Justin March, who missed all of last season because of a knee injury suffered in the first preseason game, started next to Derrick Johnson at the "Mike" linebacker position.
"I just think that it's valuable – valuable reps," Reid added. "We need to tighten it up, though. We need to do a better job all the way along on both sides of the ball."
Murray and White actually led the Chiefs defense in snaps played on Saturday night, with 35 and 32, respectively.
When you add in rookie defensive lineman Chris Jones, who didn't technically start but saw plenty of action with the first-team defense with 17 snaps played, there were essentially four rookies on the field for the Chiefs defense early in this game.
Photos from the Chiefs second preseason game against the Los Angeles Rams
When he spoke with reporters on Sunday afternoon, Reid reiterated the fact of how important this time is for these rookies and young players, who might be counted upon down the road if there name is called once the regular season begins.
"Every play becomes so valuable," Reid explained. "I saw some flashes of good things there that will help us. We're still minus a few players over there that would normally play.
"I think it's important that we get those guys back in and get rolling."