Preseason football isn’t always pretty, a good or bad game is most likely not going gain or lose you a spot on the initial roster. There were three fringe guys that may have solidified there spots with good game film last Saturday night.
Saunders along with his second-team running mate, Tershawn Wharton were everywhere on the field for the better part of two quarters. It was refreshing to see Saunders making plays and see his agility with his 325-pound body. The Chiefs spent a third-round pick on Saunders in 2019, so when he was a healthy scratch most of last season, it was a cause for concern. With Chris Jones looking to spend more time on the outside this season, it should open up more room in the rotation for Saunders. Though he was only credited for one tackle on Saturday night, his consistent push from the middle caused havoc and disrupted numerous plays. If Saunders can continue the upward momentum he will solidly find himself playing time in the defensive tackle rotation.
A whole lot of the talk about the defensive backs post-game was on the new guys – Mike Hughes, Devon Key, and DeAndre Baker – and argument can be made that all three played well. For me, the guy I was most pleased with from the secondary was Rashad Fenton. He was solid in coverage with two pass breakups, he never seemed to be out of position, and he was making good breaks on the ball. Against the run, he was taking good angles and wrapped up and took care of business. I’m well aware Fenton has a lower ceiling than either Hughes or Baker but his play is consistently good, it may never come across as flashy but his development to being a more solid contributor as a slot corner will be extremely valuable to this roster.
The third-year UDFA picked up where he left off in week 17. With two sacks and constant pressure in the backfield, Ward made himself known. Unlike Saunders who may garner more playing time from Jones kicking outside, Ward may find himself on the wrong side of the roster bubble because of Jones movement. Regardless Ward is making the most of his opportunity. He has a very quick first burst and used his hand extremely well against the second and third-team tackles. I would like to see him take meaningful snaps against some first-team lineman. Ward still has work to do to cement his way on this roster but another showing or two against the Cardinals and Vikings and it will be extremely difficult to leave him off the 53 man roster.
There was a good amount of things I saw from the first preseason game from a defensive perspective. The defensive line as a unit looked dominating at times even down Frank Clark and Taco Charlton. I love the ability of players like Chris Jones and Mike Danna to play either inside or outside depending on time and situation. The ability to wreak havoc in the trenches allows the back seven to play at a higher level and we were able to see glimpses of that on Saturday. Omari Cobb made a couple of big plays and get some game film because of the play on the interior and defensive backs mentioned above had a larger opportunity to showcase their skills. If this continues the ceiling may just be that much higher for the 2021 Chiefs.