The Kansas City Chiefs take on Sam Bradford and the St. Louis Rams Friday night in Kansas City. Despite being shutout 56-13 in the first two games of the preseason, the Kansas City Chiefs can take some positives away from their loss last week against the Baltimore Ravens.
It was the first time the entire starting defense played together in the preseason and Kelly Gregg showed Chiefs fans why they have a reason to feel good about the nose tackle position, finally. But heading into the game against the Rams the Chiefs still have questions that need to be answered.
Here are a few things to watch for Friday night.
For the second time in two years Matt Cassel faces the Rams with a lot of questions surrounding him heading into the game. Last season he was playing less than two weeks removed from surgery that had his appendix removed, and played quite well in that game that proved to be one of the key victories late in the season that helped the Chiefs win the AFC west division.
This preseason, Cassel has been far from impressive in just the limited action he saw last week against the Ravens. It may have been his first real game action of the preseason, but he'll need to go out and play well Friday night or more questions, and more pressure will follow him to the regular season.
Cory Greenwood and Micah Johnson
Brandon Siler's injury that will cost him the entire 2011 season was unfortunate for the Chiefs, who had thought Siler would push Belcher for a starting role and contribute on special teams. Instead, the Chiefs get to take a closer look at Johnson and Greenwood. Both have been impressive at times so far this preseason and both should see plenty of action Friday night.
They are both fighting for roster spots that will become more clear on Tuesday, when teams have to shrink their rosters from 90 players, to 80 players. There are always surprises every year but depth at insider linebacker just got a little more thin with the injury to Siler. Greenwood and Johnson are two players to keep your eyes on.
Verran Tucker and Keary Colbert
Tucker was very impressive last week against the Ravens at wide receiver and if he can build on that performance and take it to Friday's game, along with his special teams ability, he's going to make it a very difficult decision for Todd Haley and the Chiefs.
Colbert is also in the mix at wide receiver and the veteran, who hasn't played in a NFL regular season game since 2008, needs to make an impact in Friday's game to solidify his spot on this team.
Gilberry has been one of the more quiet pieces of the Chiefs defensive puzzle so far this preseason. He was second on the team in sacks in 2010, behind Tamba Hali, and was looked at prior to the draft as one of the key defensive lineman in 2011. Teams know about Tamba Hali and they started to notice Gilberry towards the end of 2010, but Allen Bailey, Andy Studebaker and Justin Houston need to become consistent threats to get after the quarterback.
Tyler Palco and Ricky Stanzi
The backup quarterback position is currently open and Palco and Stanzi will have some time on Friday night to show that they are ready to be the guy to step in should something happen to Cassel. It's been a hot topic over the last week that the Chiefs should look for a veteran quarterback to backup Matt Cassel. Stanzi is a rookie and will be given time to develop should he become 3rd string.
So Palco is playing for his career Friday night and the following week should he make it that far. Palco led the Chiefs of an impressive touchdown drive against the Ravens that ended with a touchdown pass to Terrance Copper. If he can put together another drive or two like that on Friday, some of those doubters may go away.
These are just a few of the players to keep an eye on Friday night against the Rams. Generally the 3rd game of the preseason is when the starters will play the longest for most NFL teams. The first half of this game should give Chiefs fans an indication of where exactly this team is in their maturation process.
It should be fun to watch.