Last season, the Chiefs didn't win a preseason game. One explanation was Todd Haley's approach on training camp -- trying to ease his players back from the lockout. The other issue was how the backups stacked up to other NFL backups.
As the Chiefs try to trim their roster to 53, Friday's 27-17 win against Arizona offered some proof that the depth has improved and it will not be as easy as years past.
Stock rising: TE Steve Maneri lost more than 40 pounds to move from offensive tackle to tight end. Maneri has great size and looked impressive against the Cardinals, finishing with three grabs for 69 yards. CB Brandon Flowers has been out since July 31 with a heel injury. That has increased the work load for second-year CB Jalil Brown. Brown is a lock to make the roster and could see more time than his rookie season when he played sparingly in 14 games.
Stock falling: Rookie WRJunion Hemingway, a seventh round pick, has missed most of camp with a groin injury. Even without Dwayne Bowe, the Chiefs have good depth at wide receiver and it will be tough for Hemingway to make the final 53 without a chance to show his worth.
QB -- In (3): Matt Cassel, Brady Quinn, Ricky Stanzi. Out: Alex Tanney. Analysis: The YouTube sensation did not get a snap in the preseason opener. Quinn and Stanzi are battling for the backup spot. For Tanney to make the final 53, one of the top three would have to suffer a major injury.
RB -- In (4): Jamaal Charles, Peyton Hillis, Cyrus Gray, Shane Bannon. Out: Nate Eachus, (FB) Patrick DiMarco. Analysis: If the Chiefs decide to keep four running backs, Shaun Draughn would make the roster. Gray, the Chiefs' sixth round pick, is the player more likely to make the team at this point. He ran for a team-best 65 yards and a TD in 15 carries in the preseason opener and provides good insurance in case Charles goes down. At fullback, the Chiefs have two unproven players in camp: Bannon and Patrick DiMarco. Bannon, the team's seventh round pick in 2011, is currently injured but he would be the favorite if the Chiefs keep only one fullback.
WR -- In: (6) Bowe, Steve Breaston, Jon Baldwin, Dexter McCluster, Devon Wylie, Terrance Cooper . Out: Jamar Newsome, Brandon Kinnie, Josh Bellamy, Aaron Weaver, Zeke Markshausen, Jeremy Horne. Analysis: It's likely the Chiefs keep Hemmingway around somehow since they used a draft pick on him, but he's a long shot to make the final 53 at this point. Wylie's ability as a return man will earn him a spot. Cooper would be the last man in because of his special teams experience.
TE -- In (2): Kevin Boss, Tony Moeaki. Out: Tim Biere. Analysis: Biere, an undrafted free agent out of Kansas, is not likely to make the roster. Maneri might be playing his way on. Jake O'Connell, who has 12 catches in three years with the Chiefs, could lose his spot to Maneri if the Chiefs keep three tight ends. Maneri, of course, will need to prove Friday was not a one-game fluke.
OL -- In (7): Branden Albert, Donald Stephenson, Ryan Lilja, Jeff Allen, Rodney Hudson, Jon Asamoah, Eric Winston. Out: Rich Ranglin, Luke Patterson, Rob Bruggeman, Cam Holland, Darryl Harris, Justin Cheadle. Analysis: Lilja has taken some snaps at center during camp and can move over to guard if Hudson goes down. That makes it likely that the Chiefs will not need to keep backup centers Patterson, Bruggeman or Holland. Stephenson, the team's third round pick, will make the roster as a swing tackle. Depending on how he performs in the preseason, the Chiefs could be forced to keep another swing tackle, leaving Ray Willis and David Mims on the bubble.
DL -- In (7): Glenn Dorsey, Amon Gordon, Anthony Toribio, Dontari Poe, Jerrell Powe, Tyson Jackson, Ropati Pitoitua. Out: Brandon Bair, Ethan Johnson, Jerome Long. Analysis: Considering Poe has not been overly impressive so far in camp, the Chiefs will need to keep Powe as insurance inside. That could leave the Chiefs forced to limit the number ends on the final roster. Second-year DE Allen Bailey is one player to watch who could be on the bubble.
LB -- In (5): Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson, Jovan Belcher, Brandon Siler, Justin Houston, Andy Studebaker. Out: Leon Williams, Caleb Campbell, Dexter Heyman. Analysis: The Chiefs have several linebackers who could work their way onto the roster as special teams players. Studebaker and Siler are both likely to make it as backups because of their history on special teams. Other players who could earn a spot, depending on numbers, are Cameron Sheffield, Edgar Jones, Cory Greenwood and Gabe Miller. Sheffield, who played all 16 games last year, is the favorite but currently out with a groin injury.
DB -- In (8): Brandon Flowers , Stanford Routt, Jalil Brown , Javier Arenas, Eric Berry, Abram Elam, Kendrick Lewis, Travis Daniels. Out: Chandler Fenner, Tysyn Hartman, Dominique Ellis, Jean Fanor, Terrance Parks, DeQuan Menzie , Neiko Thorpe, Mikail Baker. Analysis: The Chiefs are likely to keep another defensive back or two, and Jacques Reeves and Donald Washington are likely to battle for those spots. Both have experience in the league. Elam, who had an interception on Friday, is likely to make the squad as insurance for Berry. Daniels can play both safety and corner, making him a valuable asset.
Special teams -- In (3): Dustin Colquitt, Ryan Succop, Thomas Gafford. Out: Matt Szymanski. Analysis: Colquitt and Succop are both safe. Szymanski is able to punt and kickoff but it's unlikely the Chiefs hold a roster spot for him.