KANSAS CITY—From an entertainment aspect, you couldn't have asked for a better first preseason game than the Kansas City Chiefs' 41-39 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. However, from an X's and O's standpoint, there were certainly things that need to be tightened up by the Chiefs by the time Week 1 rolls around. It needs to be said that everything said in this column should be taken with a grain of salt, as it can be tempting to overreact one way or the other to the preseason. I have the perspective where it isn't the end of the world if a particular team plays well in the four exhibition games, and just because a team went 4-0 in meaningless games doesn't mean it is going to win the Super Bowl. Although, the preseason can be a decent indicator for how teams are going to select opening-day lineups and player schemes, so here's what you need to know from Thursday night’s contest:
- De'Anthony Thomas: My goodness, welcome to the NFL young man. As I mentioned in Thursday's preview column (shameless self-promotion, of course), this guy is explosive and a threat to score every time he touches the ball. My jaw dropped on Thomas' first punt return after he spun off the first defender who made the initial hit, and the fourth-round draft choice of out Oregon let his wheels do the rest en route to an 80-yard touchdown that made Arrowhead Stadium come to life for the first time in the 2014 season. While Thomas played a little running back, I didn't seem him lineup much at wideout. It will be interesting to see how the Chiefs use him on offense this season, or if they limit him to punt returns only.
- Sean Smith: I don't think Smith took too kindly to being demoted to second string after his offseason incident, and Thursday night probably gave him his starting job back (at least for now). Smith had a pick-6 off of Jason Campbell, and a few nice pass breakups. Smith's rise could also be due to Ron Parker's fall, but more on that later.
- Travis Kelce: After witnessing Kelce's 69-yard touchdown scamper, this tight end doesn't move like a guy who's 260 pounds. In fact, he runs like he's a wide receiver. Kelce and Anthony Fasano should give Andy Reid the flexibility to run a lot of two tight-end sets to give Jamaal Charles more blockers, but both tight ends are versatile enough to where Reid could design schemes to throw a lot out of the package as well.
- Ron Parker: Aye yi aye. Poor Parker. He had, to put it nicely, a rough night in the secondary. AJ Green completely torched Parker on a 53-yard bomb from Andy Dalton on Cincinnati's first series, and later allowed a touchdown (while getting called for defensive holding in the process). Needless to say, he looked overmatched. To be fair, he didn't have any safety help as Eric Berry didn't play Thursday night, and who knows what his particular assignment was on the AJ Green play, but still, not a good look for a guy fighting for a starting cornerback gig.
- Chase Daniel's interception: There isn’t much to say about this one except it was a pretty putrid throw. Daniel overthrew his man by a wide margin, and the Bengals capitalized and returned the arrant pass for a touchdown. Daniel makes prime backup money to not make those throws. Fortunately for the Chiefs faithful however, he did bounce back to complete eight of his next 10 passes, including that bomb to Kelce for a touchdown.
- Pass protection schemes (at times): sure, left tackle Eric Fisher got blown up like fireworks on the Bengals strip-sack of Alex Smith on the second drive of the game, but Smith held on to that ball about two seconds longer than he should have. Same goes for the sack of Tyler Bray in the second half, the pocket collapsed and the line got blown up, but Bray should have had the awareness to get rid of the ball earlier. However, for such a young offensive line, the protection - while flawed at times - held up OK for preseason Game 1.