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Roster Competition Coming Down to Wire

Posted Aug 25, 2014

The Kansas City Chiefs must be down to 53 players by Saturday at 5 p.m. CT.

The Chiefs play the Green Bay Packers Thursday night at 6 p.m. CT in their fourth and final preseason game.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid spoke about what he’s done in the past in regards to playing time for the starters in that final preseason game.

“Normally I don’t play my starters in that fourth game,” Reid said. “Traditionally, I’ve gone with the twos and threes to try and get our final evaluation done so they get an extended period of time. But I can’t say that there won’t be a starter here or there.”

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On the offensive side of the ball, there’s plenty of competition at each positional group.

A number of young receivers have been stepping up in the absence of Dwayne Bowe and Junior Hemingway, both of whom have missed time recently with injuries.

Behind running backs Jamaal Charles and Knile Davis, there’s plenty of competition between De’Anthony Thomas, Cyrus Gray, Joe McKnight and Charcandrick West.

But the big storyline throughout training camp has been about the youth along the offensive line. With the news of Donald Stephenson’s four-game suspension, Jeff Allen moved from left guard to right tackle against the Minnesota Vikings and then two players split time with the first time at left guard.

Veterans Jeff Linkenbach and Ricky Henry alternated series with the first-team offense. Chiefs offensive coordinator Doug Pederson spoke about their competition.

“It’s even,” Pederson said. “It’s still going to be a battle. It’s going to come down to the wire. We have one preseason game left to evaluate all the guys one more time and then make the best decision possible going forward week one.”

Switching to the defensive side of the ball, the inside linebacker position is one that’s seeing a lot of competition right now.

Because of the wrist injury to starting linebacker Joe Mays, which coach Reid said “won’t be a short time” before his return, three guys look to be in the mix.

Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton spoke of that competition and how they split up time against the Vikings.

“(Josh) Mauga, who has been out would have been the next in line,” Sutton said. “Nico (Johnson) has had a really good camp and I think is an improved player and then we’ve played Frank (Zombo) in there a little bit. I think all those guys are going to contribute at that position and compete for the position. We have to see how much Mauga can do this week. Hopefully he can get back and get some work and so that would be it.”

Finally, the kicker battle has been another top storyline since training camp. Veteran Ryan Succop is competing with undrafted rookie Cairo Santos, who was given all the kicking duties against the Vikings, which didn’t provide much action.

“We wanted Cairo (Santos) to get a bunch in that game and it just didn’t happen,” special teams coordinator Dave Toub said. “We didn’t get a lot of kick offs, we only had one field goal and we forced that one to happen. We wanted to get more [and] we didn’t get it. We’re going to continue the competition this week. It’s going to carry over into the Green Bay week.”

The players have just a couple of days of practice left and then Thursday’s game to show coaches and the personnel staff what they can do in hopes of making the Chiefs 53-man roster.

We’ll have you covered here at KCChiefs.com on any transaction that’s made official.

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