As the Kansas City Chiefs begin to open their season tonight at Arrowhead Stadium against the Arizona Cardinals, all eyes are going to be on some obvious targets. It will be the first real action for first round draft choice Dontari Poe. It will also be the first time to see new faces like Peyton Hillis, Kevin Boss, Stanford Routt and Eric Winston in a Chiefs uniform at Arrowhead. It will also feature the return of Jamaal Charles, Eric Berry and Tony Moeaki from ACL injuries. In short, there's a lot of subplots to watch for within the game itself.
However there are also some points of interest that could get lost amid the more well-known players and subplots of the game. Here's a quick look at three that are worth noting:
1. The Use of Dexter McCluster
DMC has been chided all offseason as a man without a position who could eventually become displaced on the roster -- perhaps even this offseason -- by new rookies like Devon Wylie and Cyrus Gray. The Chiefs have multiple return options in house with those two along with Steve Breaston and Javier Arenas and McCluster has been moved from wideout to running back and now back to wideout again.
Flexibility is one thing, but being a tweener is another. McCluster could become an diverse weapon on offense for Brian Daboll if used correctly but the Chiefs can't afford a man to take a "luxury" spot on the roster if others fit better overall. My bet is that McCluster finds his rhythm early in the offseason to quell any such rumors. We'll be watching tonight.
2. Rodney Hudson and Company
The Chiefs are likely to give Rodney Hudson a lot of reps tonight and in the games to come at center simply because he's the de facto starter and lacks the game experience the Chiefs will need to make decisive calls in the middle. Fans can take comfort in the fact that Crennel is staking his offense on Hudson's readiness, but it will be interesting to see how he's handled.
In the meantime, the team also has no obvious choice to back him up. Ryan Lilja earned a few reps behind him in training camp earlier this week, but will that translate to the game? Will the Chiefs roll with a guy like Rob Bruggeman? Will the team sign a veteran free agent before the season like Jeff Faine? Tonight will begin to tell the story.
3. Will Donald Washington Stick?
The Chiefs have stuck with the athletic talent of Donald Washington the last two seasons after selecting him in the fourth round of the 2009 NFL Draft for a reason: they believed that the development corner out of Ohio State could turn the corner with enough time, experience and coaching. Yet he was arrested last month for DUI, marijuana possession and driving with a suspended license. It's the sort of high maintenance drama that led many to believe his days were numbered.
Yet as the Chiefs first depth chart came out of the preseason, Washington was in the middle with the rest of the secondary. The team has plenty of hopefuls for his job, even with the season-ending injury to Kyle McCarthy, so if Washington garners plenty of playing time tonight, you'll know the team is sticking with him. After all you don't invest valuable game-time reps in the preseason to a player you want to cut.