Here are five keys to the game:
1. Stay healthy
This goes without saying.
As important as getting out on the field and finally getting a chance to hit someone in a different-colored jersey is on Thursday, there’s nothing more important than coming through this game unscathed if you’re the Chiefs.
With several players already being nicked up during training camp, Reid and company have already said the plan is to get everyone in the game.
These games are for the evaluation of everyone on the roster and everyone will have an opportunity to play.
Every chance he’s been given, coach Reid has preached execution as what he’s looking for out on the field from the guys at this point.
“Execution is the key,” Reid said. “Execution includes assignments and includes battling, toughness—it includes all those things.”
Just like most preseason games, the coaches won’t throw too much at the players from a play-calling standpoint. They want to see the players play fast and display the technique they’ve been taught at training camp.
“We want to see the effort and we want to see the hustle,” offensive coordinator Doug Pederson said. “We don’t go into this with big game plans and all that. We just want to see our guys execute our offense. It doesn’t matter who is out on that field.”
The players who show they can take what they’ve learned at practice and carry that over to the field will be in a good spot moving forward.
3. Stand out
Staying within the scope of what they’ve been taught at training camp, players need to find a way to stand out and make plays to be noticed. That doesn’t always mean they’re noticed by fans, but by coaches who see the player doing what is asked of them from a technique standpoint.
These players are auditioning for just a few spots on the Chiefs roster, but they’re also playing for 31 other NFL teams around the league who will see their film.
The more they can do to stand out and display their abilities from an individual standpoint, the better chance they’ll have of making a roster. That doesn’t mean varying from the technique they’ve been taught over the past two weeks in trying to do too much, but making plays, especially on special teams, will help these guys more than anything.
Many of these players are fighting for backup roles at defensive back, linebacker, wide receiver or running back, and so special teams will be where they separate themselves from others they are competing against.
4. Manage emotions
For many of the players, Thursday will be their first opportunity to play at Arrowhead Stadium.
For the guys fighting for those precious few roster spots, the ability to manage their emotions and play within themselves is going to be key on Thursday.
It’d be easy to understand why the guys will be a little excited to get out and hit someone else, especially playing at Arrowhead Stadium with fans and the whole production of everything, but that can’t get in the way of them going out and executing their assignments.
The guys who can stay focused on their responsibilities on any given play and not let the moment get the best of them, will be that much better for it.
5. Stay healthy
It’s important enough to list twice.
As much as players want to show coaches, teammates and fans what they’re capable of doing, it won’t do any good if they get hurt and aren’t able to perform moving forward.