Chiefs reveal first depth chart with plenty of questions
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. (AP) The Kansas City Chiefs released their initial depth chart ahead of their preseason opener, and it left fans wondering just how good they might be once the games start counting.
Assuming all those pieces stay healthy. Or get healthy.
Jamaal Charles is the starting running back, even though he has been sitting out camp after surgery to repair his ACL. Eric Berry is the starting safety, even though he has yet to sign a franchise tag and report to camp. Justin Houston is one outside linebacker and Tamba Hali the other, even though both of them are also coming back from knee injuries - Houston may be out for a while.
Still, the Chiefs were required to put something on paper and they sent it out late Sunday.
What they came up with is a roster that, if everyone was healthy, might be their best in years
''The job (general manager) John Dorsey and his staff have continued to do in terms of bringing in young players and some veteran players who can fill in and make us stronger, I think this is the most complete team we've had since Andy (Reid) and John have been here,'' chairman Clark Hunt said.
There were few major surprises on the depth chart ahead of Saturday's game against Seattle.
Charcandrick West was listed ahead of Spencer Ware at running back, meaning he is the de factor No. 1 until Charles returns. West and Ware split reps after the Pro Bowler went down last season.
Chris Conley was listed ahead of Rod Streater at one wide receiver spot, both of them trailing Albert Wilson, who has missed time with a calf injury. Tyreek Hill is listed deep on the chart but has been making enough plays that it would hardly be a surprise to see him quickly climb it.
Demetrius Harris appears to have a slight edge on Ross Travis at the second tight end spot.
''Typically in this offense we count on tight ends,'' co-offensive coordinator Brad Childress said. ''Travis (Kelce) will continue to up his game and hopefully the guys behind him will up their game.''
The only surprise along the offensive line was more like an affirmation: rookie Parker Ehinger has been impressive throughout camp and was listed with the starts at left guard. Another rookie, defensive end Chris Jones, is backing up Jay Howard on the opposite line. Dontari Poe and Allen Bailey return from last season at the other two starting spots.
The linebacker situation is still fluid, though.
Houston's injury means that former first-round pick Dee Ford will get his opportunity in the spotlight. He has been inconsistent - some might say ineffective - during his first two seasons, rarely playing at all as a rookie and making just 5 1/2 sacks his first two seasons.
''I'm here to do what I've always wanted to do. As far as my goals, I see this as an opportunity,'' he said. ''I knew at some point this is where I would be. So the last couple of years I've been working to get to this point. This is a chance for me to step up and really show what I can do.''
Safety Daniel Sorensen could just as well say the same thing.
He made the team a couple years ago as an undrafted free agent, and has slowly earned more playing time. But he's due to get a whole lot of it if Berry refuses to sign his franchise tender.
Sorensen has already earned a reputation in camp for being a big hitter.
''He's a smart player and we're asking him to do a lot back there,'' Chiefs coach Andy Reid said, ''but that's what that position holds. Him and (Ron) Parker are close. Until E.B. gets in, he's going to have to hold down the fort for us.''
One glance at the Chiefs' first depth chart and there's a lot of holding down the fort happening.
''We're trading punches kind of back and forth, and they're challenging each other in a positive way,'' Reid said. ''For the most part, I appreciate the effort they're giving.''