The Chiefs’ defense had several standouts last week against Chicago, which three players are going to stand out this week against the Commanders?
The Chiefs play their second pre-season game Saturday against the Washington Commanders. Head Coach Andy Reid has said that the starters will play about a half of football. Whether that actually holds up for guys like Patrick Mahomes and Chris Jones we will soon find out. They are veterans who could benefit from a couple of series and they watching from the bench. The younger guys on this defense and guys trying to fight for roster spots, however, can use as much playing time as possible.
One thing was very clear this offseason for the Kansas City Chiefs, they wanted to get younger and faster on defense. They completely revamped their secondary and even let Tyrann Mathieu walk in free agency. They signed Justin Reid and drafted four different players into the secondary. They also saw Frank Clark come into camp in the best shape he has been in since his time in Seattle. They also drafted edge rusher George Karlaftis out of Purdue, who had a great showing in his first preseason game.
This new-look defense has a lot of new faces, but returning players like Willie Gay Jr. and Chris Jones had tremendous camps. Patrick Mahomes pointed out Jones as having one of the best camps of any Chiefs player.
Willie Gay is also looking like a star in the making. He is fast, physical and was flying all over the place during the camp. The linebacker core in general could be the best since Steve Spagnuolo took over as defensive coordinator in Kansas City.
So, besides the obvious Chris Jones, Willie Gay, and George Karlaftis who are three players you should be keeping an eye on against Washington. Let’s take a look.
1. Malik Herring
Frank Clark, George Karlaftis, Mike Danna, and Carlos Dunlap are going to be the main rotation at the edge position. However, they still need one more player to add to the mix. Joshua Kaindoh played as many snaps as anyone on the defensive side of the ball last game but didn’t really have much to show in his time. Herring has strung some good practices together and is someone worth watching that could emerge as that fifth edge rusher.
2. Darius Harris
Harris seems to have jumped a couple of guys on the depth chart and has entered the game at linebacker before the likes of Leo Chenal and Jermaine Carter. Harris has flashed over the past two years. He has good athleticism and instincts in the passing game. Chenal is going to be a lock to make the roster and is someone to keep an eye on as well. However, the battle between Harris and Carter seems to be heating up. I would watch who is getting the most special teams reps come Saturday. That is usually a good indication of who is going to be making the 53.
3. Jaylen Watson
The player that may have helped himself the most after the first pre-season game was Jaylen Watson. He was sticky in coverage and had some nice plays, including a pass breakup. Right now he is playing opposite fellow rookie Joshua Williams with the second group. There were questions of whether he would just be a practice squad player in his first year, but now it seems he may even be able to work himself into the rotation with another good showing.
This defense has a lot of new faces and is going to be extremely fun to follow. The progression of these young secondary players and edge rushers could very well be the key to putting the Chiefs in a position to win another Super Bowl. Malik Herring, Darius Herring, and Jaylen Watson are the guys I will be keeping an eye on this Saturday. I didn’t even mention Trent McDuffie, Kahlen Saunders, and Danny Shelton. However, I am also super interested in the three of them.
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