KANSAS CITY, Mo. (TNS) — The preseason game that most resembles a regular season game kicks off on Saturday when the Chiefs visit the Chicago Bears.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid said Thursday that his starters are expected to play three quarters. Second- and third-team players will gradually work their way in later in the game.
Time to impress is running out for players battling for a spot on the 53-man roster. The Chiefs already have bid farewell to a veteran this week, releasing running back Charcandrick West.
"You're talking about one of my all-time favorite guys," Reid said of West. "It's the way this league works. We felt like we'd give him an opportunity to hook on with somebody."
With the regular season still a couple of weeks away, here are five reasons to watch the game, which begins at noon on Saturday and will be televised by KCTV (Ch. 5) and the NFL Network. Via radio, it can be heard on KCFX (101.5 FM):
The veteran running back who missed all of last season with a torn PCL suffered in the Chiefs' third preseason game could see his first action in a year, Reid said. "We're going to see how he does in the warm-ups," Reid said, "but right now he's scheduled to play. We'll see how he feels." Ware was the Chiefs' rushing leader in 2016. Same deal for wide receiver De'Anthony Thomas, Reid said. Thomas hasn't played in a preseason game while working his way back from a broken leg suffered in last year's regular-season finale against the Broncos.
Position competition: Wide receiver
Every year, it seems several candidates battle for the final spot or two at wide receiver, and this season is no different. In ink, write down Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Chris Conley and Demarcus Robinson. But then it becomes less certain. Thomas has been a weapon in the return game since joining the Chiefs in 2014. But the other leading candidates -- Jehu Chesson, Wes Kemp, Gehrig Deiter and Byron Pringle -- contribute on special teams. "Our meetings are a little bit more extensive now," special teams coach Dave Toub said. "We've got to make some tough decisions on some guys." The guess here is that Thomas and Kemp make the team.
Starting inside LBs together
Reggie Ragland and Anthony Hitchens haven't played side by side in a preseason game. It could happen on Saturday. Ragland said he wasn't overly concerned about not getting the early reps with his fellow projected starter. "We've been on the field in practice, OTAs and everything," Ragland said. "Me and Hitch have a chemistry, we just haven't played in a game yet." That could change on Saturday. Terrance Smith and Ukeme Eligwe have started the Chiefs' previous preseason games.
Orlando Scandrick's debut
The newest member of the Chiefs likely will see playing time on Saturday. Scandrick, who signed a one-year, $1.5 million deal this week, has worked as a third cornerback with the first team. Projected starter Steven Nelson remains out with a concussion. Others Reid said were out for the game: defensive lineman Allen Bailey (knee), Eric Berry (heel) and offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (concussion). LDT worked out on Thursday for the first time since suffering a head injury. Defensive lineman Xavier Wililams sat out Thursday's drills with an injury and could miss Saturday's game.
Reid faces former assistant Matt Nagy, now the Bears' head coach, and several former Chiefs players, such as backup quarterbacks Chase Daniel and Tyler Bray and former KC running back Knile Davis. It appears Bears linebacker Roquan Smith, the team's first-round draft choice out of Georgia, won't play with a hamstring injury. He hasn't suited up for the Bears since joining the team after a 29-day contract holdout.