We are on the precipice of the preseason finale, here is a look of four players that could impact both the game and their roster viability on Friday night.
Watts is now entering his fourth season with the Chiefs. A special teams savant, who rarely has been able to break into the safety rotation. With the release of Will Parks and the underwhelming performance from training camp darling, Devon Key, Watts looks poised to regain his spot as the fourth safety on the roster.
On Friday I would love to see him separate himself from Key with some improved coverage over the top. Now in his third year in this defensive regime, there are no excuses for being out of position. Dave Toub will do anything to keep Watts on the 53 man roster, but a poor defensive performance in the final preseason game could make this a tough call for the Chiefs organization.
Everybody’s favorite training camp player. He came in as this giant 6’6 wide receiver and has bounced back and forth between that position and tight end over the last three seasons. Never being able to crack the active roster Fortson has his best shot this season.
After getting praise for his upward progression on special teams from Dave Toub on Tuesday, Fortson’s stock and viability seem as high as ever. With his versatility, his advancement as a blocker, and newfound opportunities on special teams, Fortson seems like an absolute lock to make this roster. I would love to see him used in the red zone and see what kind of mismatch he can really create against the Vikings.
As frustrating as it may seem Ben Niemann is going to make this roster but his playing time may take a significant hit. I’m going to finally admit that his coverage skills from the linebacker position are the second-best on the roster behind Willie Gay. I would like to see Niemann step up his tackling ability. A progression upward of tackling angles would go a long way.
I get the feeling that we will see a lot of the number two’s on Friday and that would include Niemann with the linebacker unit. I would love for him to be a leadership presence when Anthony Hitchens and the ones are on the sidelines. Ben may never be a high-quality player in the NFL but he brings enough value with coverage and on special teams to compete for a roster spot for years to come.
From all indications, it looks like Thompson may be the odd man out in the running back room. Darwin has shown brief flashes of brilliance with his chances on the field. Yet for every glimpse of flash, there seems to be something negative that quickly follows. His boneheaded taunting in the preseason opener may loom large when the final cuts hit. I feel there will be a need for a big game for him to have any shot of the Chiefs keeping and selecting him on the final 53.
Though Thompsons time with the Chiefs may be winding down, the doesn’t mean a good game with good film could find Darwin on another roster via trade. Thompson is a real good athlete who has enough value at a position where preseason injuries are prevalent. A good outing could be beneficial for both parties.
Andy Reid has said the starters will get most of the first half on Friday and the rest will kind of sort itself out. I’d be surprised to see many of the ones past the first quarter. This contest against the Vikings is the opportunity for our depth pieces to showcase that the Chiefs have the best-constructed roster in the NFL.