The days, hours and minutes are winding down as the first preseason game for the Kansas City Chiefs approaches.
Since the beginning of training camp on July 23, Chiefs players and coaches have acknowledged what this team is capable of and want everyone to find their place.
Since that first day, several veterans have been injured, with most finding their way back to the field.
Starting running back Damien Williams made his return Wednesday after missing since late in the second practice on July 28. Safety Jordan Lucas and linebacker Damien Wilson also returned after spending several days recovering from injuries, and it was reported they are doing fine after participating.
Wide receiver Tyreek Hill has participated sporadically in practice since bruising his quad during a collision in last Tuesday’s practice. He was seen in full action giving cornerback Kendall Fuller some challenges Wednesday morning.
After Saturday’s practice, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said he hadn’t put much thought into the preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals that’s set for 7 p.m. Saturday in Kansas City.
“I haven’t put much time or thought into that right this minute,” Reid said. “Normally I go with the ones for a quarter or so, but I haven’t even gotten that far yet.”
If that does turn out to be Reid’s plan, fans will not only get to see star quarterback Patrick Mahomes, but several other NFL veterans that have joined the Chiefs in the offseason.
Defensive end Frank Clark was traded from the Seattle Seahawks to the Chiefs in the offseason and has been impressive throughout training camp, with left tackle Eric Fisher noting how their competition has helped each improve.
Clark left practice early Monday with what Reid described as a sore wrist. He has been participating in warm-ups and working out on the sidelines but hasn’t been padded since the injury.
Clark and defensive tackle Chris Jones have brought excitement to the Chiefs with their high levels of energy. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said he didn’t have any one veteran he wanted to see on the field on Saturday, though.
“To pick out anybody would be an injustice,” Spagnuolo said. “I’m really looking for how cohesive of a unit we can be. With that comes effort and tackling, just like I talked about. To me, communication and working together as a unit, communicating from the back end to the front end, that’s as important as anything. If we don’t get that squared away in the first game, it’ll be a long season.”
The expectations are high for the defense going into the preseason game. Spagnuolo is bringing an entirely new defensive scheme in for his first season with the Chiefs, and that means a lot of players have the chance to make a difference.
Offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy was in the same boat as Spagnuolo after Sunday’s practice, saying he liked what he saw from several players ahead of the preseason game.
“It’s hard for me to just pick and choose who I want to see,” Bieniemy said on Sunday. “I’m fired up about seeing our guys just go out and play against a different opponent. You get un-scouted looks. You get an opportunity to watch our guys run around, see who can play, who can react against a different opponent.
“So I’m fired up obviously about our starters going out there, but more importantly, I’m fired up about seeing the young guys go out there and just play football.”