It’s week two of the preseason. It’s Chiefs-Steelers. As the Chiefs wrapped up training camp on Thursday, the page turns now to the next preseason game. Kansas City is coming off a fine outing last week against the Bengals. The starting offense picked up right where they left off. Also, there weren’t too many injuries. The goal now is to take the next step. The starters will get added time and Kansas City is hoping to see continued development from the younger players. Now, let’s take a look at the three things to watch for in this Chiefs-Steelers contest.
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The Chiefs gave Darron Lee a healthy amount of snaps last week against the Bengals. He played roughly two and a half quarters and had the second most defensive snaps on the team. Kansas City had to have thoroughly enjoyed his performance. Lee’s eight tackles were the team high on Saturday night. It is also evident the speed he brings to the defense, as Lee showed the ability to run downhill or sideline to sideline.
Of all the offseason additions to the defense, Lee seems to not get mentioned enough. How well he fits in the defensive scheme, and his above average athleticism will be key for the Chiefs this season. If he can once again be a tackling machine and interchangeable for the defense, Lee’s role can continue to increase heading into the season.
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When the Chiefs drafted Darwin Thompson, they were getting a humble playmaker who could win with speed or physicality. Thompson displayed some of that flashiness against the Bengals. His results included six total touches for 51 yards and a touchdown. In a few of his carries, Thompson ran over defenders and showed he can run in between the tackles. His first plus play, however, was cutting down a pass rusher in pass protection: https://twitter.com/pgsween/status/1161431696383913985
Thompson seems to be quickly increasing his role heading into the season. But one fine showing won’t be enough. Thompson will need to produce more results in ways he wasn’t exposed to last game. The Steelers have a much faster defense and their front seven is improved. So, it will be interesting to see if Thompson receives more carries this week and if he can take the next step.
Behind Travis Kelce, it’s clear there is going to be two other tight ends to make the roster. While the Chiefs lost Demetrius Harris, the team doesn’t seem to be any worse for wear at the position. Blake Bell surprised me in camp and had some strong plays last week. Deon Yelder also received plenty of snaps and hauled in a touchdown late against the Bengals. Both players also graded well in blocking too. Once again, how will these players take a step forward? Bell and Yelder both need to cut down on the drops. It’s also important to see how much each guy runs with the first team offense, if much at all. Look to see each player try to gain an advantage for the number two tight end spot in this Chiefs-Steelers matchup.
– Braden Holecek is the Kansas City Chiefs managing editor for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on Follow @ebearcat9//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js Follow @FPC_Chiefs//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js and Facebook.