One of the most noticeable differences for the Kansas City Chiefs' offense on Friday night was the stellar play of the offensive line.
During the two series that the starters played -- both touchdown drives -- Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis racked up 53 yards and Matt Cassel had plenty of time to complete 5 of 6 passes. Cassel was hit one time, a below-the-knee dive by Dan Williams that drew a 15-yard penalty.
"Obviously that's what you want to see right out of the blocks," RT Eric Winston said, told the Kansas City Star. “You want to see touchdowns, you want to see points.
"Preseason games … there's an argument to be made whether it matters or not, but what does matter is the way we were running the operation of the plays … we had good tempo, getting in and out of plays, checking into plays … things that we need to do to be successful. I was more impressed with how on point we were with that more than anything else."
The offensive line was one of the biggest needs that general manager Scott Pioli addressed in the offseason through free agency, signing Winston to a four-year deal worth $22 million. Two years ago, the Chiefs were forced to go with Barry Richardson at right tackle by default. Richardson was a project turned starter who didn't turn out so great.
Richardson recently showed up as the one of the worst pass blockers over the last three years in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus. Winston is listed as one of the best in that same study, coming in as the eighth-best pass blocker from the tackle position.
The other big offseason change was replacing retired center Casey Wiegmann with second-year center Rodney Hudson. Hudson was beat one time against Arizona -- when Williams dove at Cassel's knees -- but he had smooth exchanges with Cassel and the offense did not have to fight the play clock, which was a regular occurrence the last couple years under Todd Haley.
"It went pretty good," Hudson told the Star. "All of us were communicating together. The line and the quarterback got things sorted out. We worked pretty well together."
The pass protection was a plus, but the biggest takeaway for the line might have been the holes created for Hillis and Charles. In 2010 when the Chiefs made the playoffs, they led the league in rushing and ranked fourth in rushing yards per attempt (4.7). Last year, they ranked 26th at 3.9 yards per carry.
It's hard to look too much into one preseason game, but the Chiefs' running backs averaged 7.4 yards per carry over their first two series. That prompted coach Romeo Crennel to say the Chiefs can lead the league in rushing again.
"We have a great combination of backs," Crennel said. "Our ability to use them how we deem necessary, what fits us the best, will go a long way for us. We've got a really fast guy. We've got a strong guy with speed and then we've got some slashers. It will cause defenses some problems in trying to prepare."