KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Jamaal Charles has confidence that the Kansas City Chiefs’ offense will be in synch when the regular season rolls around a week from Sunday.
Evidently, so does Andy Reid.
The Chiefs’ coach said Tuesday that he is unlikely to play any of his starters in Thursday night’s preseason finale in Green Bay. Reid had hinted last week that he may break from his norm and play at least some of them after lackluster performances in their first three preseason games.
The Chiefs have struggled while dealing with a rash of injuries and suspensions that could keep several key players off the field in Week 1 against Tennessee.
”I’m going to try to give the guys an opportunity to show. That’s one reason I normally hold the 1s, so I can get a peer evaluation of these young guys and see what they can do,” Reid said. ”Right now, we have good competition on this team. And then if they don’t make your club they have some worthy plays on tape that other clubs can evaluate.”
This is the final opportunity for many players to make an impression. The Chiefs must trim their roster from 75 players to their final 53 by Saturday afternoon.
Reid said that Chase Daniel will lead the No. 2 offense through the first quarter against the Packers. Aaron Murray and Tyler Bray, who are competing for the No. 3 quarterback job, will split the final three quarters with the rest of the reserve players.
”I’m probably going to use all the under guys,” Reid said.
That’s just fine with Charles, who only received three carries in the entire preseason. The Pro Bowl running back skipped the last two games after hurting his foot while carrying a box, but he’s been practicing full speed and said he’ll be ready for the regular season.
”I’ve been in the league a long time. I’ve had plenty of carries,” Charles said. ”Having three carries in the preseason won’t make me because those stats don’t even count. I mean, the real game counts, Week 1 against Tennessee, and that’s all I’m worrying about.”
Charles also isn’t worried about a suspect offensive line that has struggled with injuries, illness and suspension, and has been a big reason why the first-team offense failed to score a touchdown in 16 series covering the first three preseason games.
Right tackle Donald Stephenson is suspended for the first four games for violating the league’s performance-enhancing substance policy. That has led to a massive reshuffling along the line – Jeff Allen has shifted from left guard to right tackle, and several backups are trying to earn the nod to replace his normal spot at guard.
Making matters worse, left tackle Eric Fisher missed Tuesday’s workout in triple-digit heat with a bout of the flu. The expectation is that he will be healthy by next week, though.
”I don’t have no worries about that. Those guys are going to come around. It’s preseason,” Charles said. ”They’re still trying to work with each other. They’re young. But they got to go. Doesn’t matter who’s there, they got to go.”
That goes for the group of players trying to lock down spots at wide receiver.
Dwayne Bowe missed practice again with a groin injury, and his preferred backup Junior Hemingway has been out with a hip injury. That means Frankie Hammond, who was struggling just to make the team a few weeks ago, could start the season opener against the Titans.
Hammond spent last season on the Chiefs’ practice squad.
”I mean, Frankie had a great camp, and a great offseason, so it certainly wasn’t out of the realm of possibilities,” quarterback Alex Smith said. ”But once again, you focus on what’s on your plate and getting better and doing what you need to do to make your offense go.”
Just like Charles, Smith believes the Chiefs are close to where they need to be.
”I think we got some good work and some things to learn from,” he said, ”but I feel good about what we’re doing. Preseason is a great tool for things like that.”
Notes: Chiefs LB Tamba Hali missed practice with a swollen knee. WR Mark Harrison was ill. … The Chiefs waived OT Ryan McKee and CBs Kevin Rutland and Damond Smith to reach the 75-man roster limit by Tuesday’s deadline.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL .