Monday, August 31, 2020

Chiefs stock report: Who’s rising and who’s falling as camp nears its end?


By Nate Taylor Aug 27, 2020


KANSAS CITY, Mo. — On Saturday, the Chiefs will have their last semi-unusual dress rehearsal. The team will welcome a maximum of 5,000 fans into Arrowhead Stadium for the team’s second open practice for season-ticket holders.

The Chiefs will use Saturday’s practice kind of how they operate during a normal exhibition game. With no preseason games amid the coronavirus pandemic, coach Andy Reid has felt that every repetition for his players in this year’s training camp has been precious. The Chiefs are a veteran team, and the coaches are likely to keep as many such players on their opening-night roster since the usual long shots on the 80-man roster, the undrafted free agents, haven’t been able to prove themselves in a game setting.

“We have to make decisions off of practice,” said Dave Toub, the Chiefs’ special-teams coordinator. “We meet every night as a (coaching) staff and we evaluate each guy and put grades on them. Everybody hears what each guy says, so we know where everybody stands.”

Since the Chiefs play in the NFL’s first game this season — as the league’s reigning champions — the team is expected to have its cutdown day to a 53-man roster a few days sooner than the league-mandated time of 3 p.m. CT on Sept. 5.

As we detailed in our updated roster projection on Aug. 13 (before the Chiefs’ padded practices), some players have had impressive performances in camp to elevate their odds of being on the active roster next month. On the flip side, some players have struggled in camp or haven’t made as big of an impact as they would’ve hoped.

Below are 14 players whose stock is either ascending or dipping for the Chiefs entering this weekend.

Ben Niemann, LB

“Sexy” is not the best word to describe Niemann’s play or abilities. But Niemann, a third-year veteran, does just about everything right. He’s a good tackler and a better blitzer than people realize, plays zone coverage pretty well, can be trusted on special teams and has shown to have the best hands among the linebackers in catching interceptions. Earlier in camp, Reid said the biggest improvement in Niemann was his increased strength.

“I’ve got to agree with Coach,” linebackers assistant Matt House said Thursday. “Strength and then also just the confidence. Last year, as he developed a bigger and bigger role, he grew more confident. This year, being in the second year doing similar things, his confidence has improved.”

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