The Cincinnati Bengals will travel to take on the Kansas City Chiefs in the preseason opener for each team this Thursday night. Both squads are coming off of playoff appearances last season, as well as early exits from the postseason.
Cincinnati’s offseason was defined by the losses of coordinators Mike Zimmer and Jay Gruden. Both men went on to accept head coaching jobs elsewhere, and their absence will no doubt be felt as the Bengals move on to a new chapter. But of course, Marvin Lewis is still there to steer the ship in what will be the start of his 12th season with the team (second longest-tenured in NFL behind Bill Belichick).
As for the Chiefs, they come into the preseason opener with a QB in a ‘prove it’ season. Alex Smith is out to show he’s due a huge raise, and the Chiefs will surely need him to help put up more points than he did a year ago.
Meanwhile, the Kansas City defense will be trying to redeem itself after stumbling down the stretch in 2013. A few players from last year’s defense won’t be back, most notably Pro Bowl CB Brandon Flowers. Some new faces will be getting extended playing time in the KC secondary this preaseason: Jerron McMillian, Husain Abdullah, Ron Parker, Marcus Cooper, Sean Smith and Chris Owens.
Bengals fans should be excited to get their first real glimpse at second-year TE Tyler Eifert, who’s a strong candidate to have a breakout season. The same can be said for RB Giovani Bernard. Rookie AJ McCarron will sit this game out to rest his shoulder, so look for Jason Campbell to get a good amount of reps under center.
Chase Daniel, Tyler Bray and rookie Aaron Murray could all see time at QB for Kansas City.
As always with the first preseason game, fans should expect the star players to be limited to a series or two. These warm up games are all about the young players trying to prove themselves. But either way, it’s just good to have football back.