It has been determined that the Kansas City Chiefs will rest some starters this Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers. It is still unknown, as to what starters will exactly be rested, and for how much this week. Will we see some starters play for the first half, and then sit the rest of the game?
This gives many depth players a prime opportunity to show what they’ve got. We saw a few cash in on opportunities last week. For example, running back Darrel Williams and linebacker Darius Harris had strong showings. Rookie Willie Gay is also getting more and more comfortable. Some of the players we will list below have either been inactive most of the season or down on the practice squad. So, we are not necessarily guaranteed to see these players. But, we are eager to see how these select few do, if given the chance. Here are five depth players worth keeping an eye on for the Kansas City Chiefs this Sunday.
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BoPete Keyes, Cornerback
A cornerback who the Chiefs traded back into the seventh round for this past April, BoPete Keyes has been inactive for most of the season. This was viewed as somewhat of a “redshirt” type of season for him coming in. Learn the scheme, show off the ball skills, length and athleticism in practice was the bottom line for him this season, at the least. He has only logged 11 defensive snaps this season across two games.
Looking back to our thoughts on Keyes from after the draft, there is a lot to like. Many of his traits are alike to current Chiefs cornerbacks and what Steve Spagnuolo loves in his defense. For one, his bigger size and physicality were evident when he was at Tulane. His long arms and activity at the catch point frustrated receivers. His ball skills and long speed are also positive aspects of Keyes’ game. Whether it is inside or outside, BoPete Keyes could provide a strong resistance to opposing Chargers receivers, like Mike Williams for example.
Deandre Baker, Cornerback
Let’s stick with the defensive back options. Kansas City took a chance on Deandre Baker, after charges filed against him for armed robbery were dropped because of an extortion case. Baker has largely spent time on the practice squad since signing in November. He was elevated to the active roster for games recently, though.
Defensive backs coach Sam Madison has enjoyed what he has seen from Baker. “A very press corner, a physical guy, a ball hawk, a guy that’s always around the football. I’ve known this kid for a very long time, from Florida. We just wanted to get him in the building, get him used to the Kansas City way of doing things and implementing that. When you have an opportunity to get a first round talent and implement him into your scheme and your system.”
Not having the top end speed or length is different than most of the Chiefs cornerbacks. However, the defense has done a fairly good job in man coverage throughout most of the season. If he can find a groove in press attempts at the line of scrimmage, maybe Baker will find a good chunk of playing time this Sunday. Either way, he is a guy who many are excited about possibly receiving a chance on Sunday.
Byron Pringle, Wide Receiver
This one is a little different than the last two, as we have seen Byron Pringle play a fair amount this season. But, this opportunity could mean more for him beyond 2020. While Sammy Watkins and Demarcus Robinson are the pending unrestricted free agents getting the most attention at wide receiver, people forget that Pringle is in that same free agent class. He is an exclusive rights free agent, not unrestricted. Nonetheless, his role feels like one that could fluctuate depending on his end to the season.
What Pringle provides at wide receiver, is his strong hands and smooth route running. Suddenness in his releases at the line of scrimmage is impressive also. Don’t forget about his kick return for a touchdown in Denver from earlier this season. Pringle can catch opponents off guard with his sneaky speed. With quarterback Chad Henne getting the starting nod, Pringle is a guy who may be looked at for downfield targets. In his days at Kansas State, it was amazing to see how quickly he ate up the cushion that he was warranted.
Darwin Thompson, Running Back
With Clyde Edwards-Helaire still out, and Le’Veon Bell possibly being rested or a little banged up, we could see Kansas City dive deep into the running back well. Darrel Williams was used extensively against Atlanta last week. And for the most part, he churned out positive gains for the offense. Meanwhile, second year man Darwin Thompson could provide something similar to what is missing from Edwards-Helaire.
It may not be to the same level or degree, but Thompson has shown a keen ability to make defenders miss. Whether it is with his shiftiness or patience, the Utah State product has made opposing tacklers look silly if given the chance. Do not be surprised to see him receive opportunities in the pass game, as well as the run game.
Armani Watts, Safety
The amount of defensive snaps have been limited for Armani Watts. Now in his third season out of Texas A&M, the book on him has remained the same. His athleticism is not the focus, as Watts has the potential to be an instinctive player who can blow up passes. That opportunity has just never resonated fully. Part of that, is due to him playing behind an amazing player like Tyrann Mathieu. On the other hand, he may have a chance to flash another favorable part of his game. That would be ball skills. His pass breakup against the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2018 stands out near the goal line. Possibly, Watts could get plenty of those chances with Justin Herbert airing it out constantly on Sunday.
Be on the lookout for more FPC Chiefs articles throughout the week. For more great sports and NFL content, stay tuned to Full Press Coverage.
– 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.