KCCD Writer: Nick Kappel
The Chiefs will wrap up their 2012 preseason schedule against the Packers at Lambeau Field Thursday night. With the final cuts due Friday, this game will be the last chance many young players have to impress Kansas City’s coaching staff. As Jason wrote last week, there are some roster spots still up for grabs.
These roster battles won’t dominate the game’s headlines, however. For Chiefs fans, there’s only one goal tonight: don’t get hurt.
The team’s depth was thought to be a strength early in camp, but key injuries have decimated the Chiefs secondary in particular. Brandon Flowers has been nursing a heal injury for a month. Thus, he will not play tonight and his status for Week 1 is in doubt. His backup, Jalil Brown suffered a groin injury last week. Kendrick Lewis injured his surgically-repaired shoulder in the second preseason game against the Rams. The timetable for his return is unknown.
Starting NT Anthony Toribio suffered an injury last week against the Seahawks and is not expected to play tonight. According to Romeo Crennel, rookie Dontari Poe will start in his place. His performance may dictate how often he plays early in the regular season. Currently, he’s expected to play mostly on third downs.
Crennel mentioned earlier this week that he wants the starters to end the preseason on a high note. He also said the word “efficient” a lot. If the first team offense comes out firing on all cylinders—much like they did early against Arizona and much like they did on the final drive of the first half against Seattle—they’ll probably sit the rest of the game. But if they continue to drop passes and fail to maintain a rhythm, they might play a quarter or two.
This team is very young. In fact, they’re the only NFL team without a single player more than 30 years old. A poor showing against Green Bay might rattle their confidence and carry into Week 1 against Atlanta. But confidence can be regained. Season-ending injuries—as Chiefs fans learned early last year—cannot.
Get the starters in and out quickly, then get the team back to Kansas City. Meaningful football (and Tony Gonzalez’s return to Arrowhead) is just 10 days away.
Follow Nick Kappel on Twitter: @NickKappel